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Overview

Once part of a vast cattle ranch and a major stop on the Overland Stage Route, "Pass of the Oaks," about 30 miles inland from Morro Bay, is set amid a classic Mediterranean environment of oak chaparral. In 1857, a health resort was built atop a therapeutic mineral spring, drawing many notables through the next century. The settlement actually sprung to life in 1887, when the Pacific railroad arrived. Alas, the springs no longer function, but the resort is now The Paso Robles Inn & Gardens. Vine Street is lined with pretty late-19th-century buildings, many of them now occupied by restaurants and art galleries. Today, Paso Robles is fast ...

Once part of a vast cattle ranch and a major stop on the Overland Stage Route, "Pass of the Oaks," about 30 miles inland from Morro Bay, is set amid a classic Mediterranean environment of oak chaparral. In 1857, a health resort was built atop a therapeutic mineral spring, drawing many notables through the next century. The settlement actually sprung to life in 1887, when the Pacific railroad arrived. Alas, the springs no longer function, but the resort is now The Paso Robles Inn & Gardens. Vine Street is lined with pretty late-19th-century buildings, many of them now occupied by restaurants and art galleries. Today, Paso Robles is fast evolving as a major new wine-growing region and is surrounded by horse ranches, almond orchards, olive groves, and vineyards. Agriculture dominates this relatively sleepy town, which bursts to life in March and May for wine festivals and in August for the California Mid-State Fair, featuring top entertainment. The local out-of-town recreation spot is Lake Nacimiento, set in a picturesque valley. Movie idol James Dean famously died 24 miles east of town on September 30, 1955, when he crashed his Porsche 550 Spider; the James Dean Monument marks the spot.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer and autumn. Winters can be cool and damp.