As winter turns to spring, it’s the perfect season to escape to the cheery welcome of the Central Coast. Oceanfront suites with fireplaces, wine country bed and breakfasts and natural beauty offer a cozy respite.
Snuggle into the Cheshire Cat Inn, two 19th century Queen Ann-style homes and a modern coach house, offering 18 luxurious rooms in the heart of downtown. Or the contemporary grace of the 23-room Lavender Inn by the Sea, two blocks from the beach. Enjoy the charm of wine tasting — at the cozy Conway Family Wines Deep Sea Tasting Room on Stearns Wharf, with sweeping views of the ocean and city, and in the historic Presidio Neighborhood by a candle-lit fireplace at Jamie Slone Wines.
Enjoy an old-school breakfast at Sambo’s on the waterfront. For dinner, indulge in shepherd’s pie and a pint of beer at Dragan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant or the barbecue redux at the new Wildwood Kitchen. It’s barbecue “done right,” say the locals. Peruse art work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. For extra “coz,” take in a live performance at the historic newly renovated Lobero Theatre. santabarbaraca.com
Discover the laid-back charm of Pismo Beach, where 20 miles of sand invites dreamy sunset or sunrise walks. It’s also fun to rent bicycles or surreys from Wheel Fun Rentals. At Oceano Dunes at Pismo State Beach it’s legal to drive your car onto the sand.
The Splash Café is the spot for clam chowder. Savor it inside the beach-shack-style eatery or at a picnic table on the pier. Hearty Italian fare is wonderful at Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana — think beef steak sandwiches with house-roasted beef and baked veal cutlets. Let the wines of nearby San Luis Obispo wine country come to you at the Tastes of the Valleys wine shop.
Consider the Inn at the Cove at Pismo Beach. Set in a secluded ocean cove 1.6 miles from town, with over-water balconies and in-room spa services. Or at the Valentina Suites, in the heart of town, two blocks from the beach. classiccalifornia.com
Make an artisan getaway into the Paso Robles wine country. Relax among the vines at La Bellasera Hotel & Suites, with in-room fireplaces and spa tubs, wine-tasting and a full service spa. Or cozy just six minutes from Paso’s main square at Refugio, a two-suite guesthouse, owned and run by actor Casey Biggs and cookbook author Brigit Binns. Polish your culinary skills at Binns’ in-house cooking classes or a Farmstead Ed class at a local farm. Take an art class at Studios on the Park, a venue unique to the West Coast.
Enjoy modern comfort foods like butternut squash enchiladas at Villa Creek restaurant bar. And Sonoma duck leg cassoulet at Artisan. Stroll through downtown. Must-sees include the General Store, We Olive and Di Raimondo’s Cheese Shop. Go wine-tasting at Paso’s incredible wineries including Tooth and Nail, Shale Oak, Grey Wolf, Broken Earth, Red Soles and Eberle. travelpaso.com
Sea otter sightings are practically guaranteed on walks around the harbor. Watch the sun set behind iconic Morro Rock from your waterfront room at the Anderson Inn. Its eight guest rooms feature fire places, soaking tubs and balconies. Or choose the graceful comforts of the newly renovated Inn at Morro Bay overlooking the ocean and surrounded by 4,000 acres of woodlands.
Try old school Coquilles St. Jacque in the cottage-like Bayside Café, classic fish and chips at the Dutchman’s Seafood House and a killer cheddar cheese, Ortega chili, cremini mushroom and sausage omelet at Frankie and Lola’s Front Street Café. Or pack a picnic to enjoy on Morro Bay beach. Explore the harbor on kayaks from the Kayak Shack or an electric boat from Lost Isle Adventure Tours. Take an afternoon hike up Black Mountain and marvel at the sea and coast. morrobay.org
Commune with history in this picturesque coastal town. The Olallieberry Inn dates to 1865 with nine guestrooms in the main house and three in the adjoining cottage. Gardens, a three-course breakfast and evening wine and hors d’oeuvres add to the coziness. Or update to the 1880s at the Squibb House. This Victorian has five guestrooms filled with handmade furniture, much of it crafted at the circa 1880s Custom Furniture Shop next door. Both are a short walk to downtown.
For food, Linn’s of Cambria is the go-to, serving classic pot pies and soups along with haute cuisine and fine wines. For dessert, the Olallieberry pie is a must.
– Barbara Beckley, Tribune Content Solutions Writer