About three and a half hours north of West Hollywood, you’ll discover SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County, California), SLOCAL.com. It has been called “the best of California wrapped in 80-plus miles of coastline.”
Imagine loads of pristine, scenic beaches, endless sunny days, rolling hills, vineyards and unique small towns. Offering a multitude of diverse, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, SLO CAL is also a mecca for foodies, wine lovers, cyclists, adventurers and families seeking laid-back pleasures.
The wine-and-dine scene encompasses 300 wineries, breweries and distilleries. On the SLO CAL Sustainable Wine Trail, with its 50-plus wineries, you’ll discover LEED-certified tasting rooms and the world’s first regenerative organic-certified vineyard at Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.
On the SLO CAL Distillery Trail, many distilleries—such as RE:FIND Distillery in Paso Robles—use recycled grape juice to create spirits such as vodka, gin and whiskey.
As for the food? You’re in for a treat. Farm-to-table restaurants, freshly-caught seafood, farmers’ markets and culinary events ensure vacations in SLO CAL are scrumptious.
Michelin honours abound here. In Paso Robles, The Restaurant at JUSTIN has earned both a Michelin star and a green star for sustainability. Six Test Kitchen has been awarded a Michelin star, while Les Petites Canailles, In Bloom and The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar have earned Michelin mentions. In San Luis Obispo, Nate’s on Marsh and Ox + Anchor have earned Michelin mentions and in Arroyo Grande, Ember has also earned a mention.
George and his family enjoyed the wealth of hospitality. Their first stop was at Vespera Resort on Pismo Beach, vesperapismobeach.com. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Vespera is a stylish enclave designed for relaxation. The setting is gorgeous and the activities are enticing— from horseback riding, surfing and sea kayaking to hiking and cycling.
The seafood is another big draw. The Coyles dined in delicious style at the Oyster Loft, oysterloft.com, just a short walk from the beachfront resort. This chic venue serves regional seafood impeccably prepared in a kitchen helmed by Chef Jared Hurst.
The next morning, breakfast was at the Lido Restaurant at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, thedolphinbay.com/lido. It’s notable for its sweeping ocean views and California coastal cuisine.
Later, the family sat down to lunch at Blue Moon Over Avila, bluemoonoveravila.com, a seaside French bistro with specialities such as French Onion Soup Lyonnaise and Croque Monsieur.
The highlight of the day, though, was a visit to Avila Beach to go surfing with Van Curaza Surf School, vancurazasurfschool.com. “Wow wow wow,” George enthuses. “We learned to surf with Van himself.” A former professional surfer, owner Van Curaza was recently featured in an award-winning Netflix documentary called Resurface.
In addition to the surfing school, he has founded Operation Surf, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth, wounded military men and women and individuals in need through surfing. For the Ottawans, surfing with Van was a thrill. “Amazing day!”
Next stop? Wine country. The Coyles headed to SLO CAL’s Allegretto Vineyard Resort, allegrettovineyardresort.com at Paso Robles. Though it’s just 40 minutes from Pismo Beach, George says, “This resort feels like you’re in a European countryside on a vineyard. It’s a terrific spot for families, with tons of amenities.”
Lunch at Niner Wines Estates , ninerwine.com, was another memorable treat. This lush enclave offers tasting flights and a menu sourced from local farms and its own chef’s garden.
The grand finale for the Coyles’ SLO CAL experience was a visit to Light at Sensorio, sensoriopaso.com, an immersive walk-through outdoor exhibit by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. “This is definitely a must-see attraction,” notes George. “It’s quite unique and fun for families.”