The small-town charms of Arroyo Grande
The sleepy Central Coast town of Arroyo Grande, population 17,000, is the ideal place to shut out the mayhem of city life for a few days. There’s not much to do except relax, drink wine, read your book and take sunset strolls.
The bed. House of Another Tyme Bed & Breakfast (227 Le Point St.;  489-6313; rooms for two, $120) is a remodeled Victorian home that dates to 1916 and contains three guest rooms. The B&B is run by husband-and-wife Jack Tiedemann and Judy Zwarg. Judy cooks a tasty breakfast quiche accompanied by bacon, hot homemade muffins and coffee. Jack writes and has penned a book about the house’s friendly ghost the couple calls “Hannah.” We never saw the ghost on our visit in March, but we were happy that the rooms were quiet and without TVs, and that the inn was walking distance of the town’s main street.
The meal. Although you might be tempted to start and end your dining experience with homemade ice cream from Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab (the Peanut Butter Cup Delight is divine), do yourself a favor and stop for dinner — or appetizers — at Gather Wine Bar (122 E. Branch St.;  474-4771; no single item over $20, except bottles of wine). Genial owner Kari Ziegler is happy to ply you with tastes of small-batch wines such as Liquid Farm Rose of Mourvedre and Sea Shell Cellars Blend. Asparagus-mushroom flatbread, creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and charcuterie will fill you up.
The find. The Santa Manuela Schoolhouse (127 Short St.;  489-8282 free) was built in 1901 and is the last remaining one-room schoolhouse in San Luis Obispo County. Stepping into it is like stepping back in time. Squat wooden desks with ink wells, original slate boards, antiquated books and lunch pails, and a genuine dunce cap will leave you filled with wonder at the way things were.
The lesson learned. Don’t jump up and down on the town’s famous 171-foot swinging bridge, which was built in 1875 over the Arroyo Grande Creek and is the only bridge of its kind in the state. You’ll want to bounce around on it because it’s goofy good fun, but that swinging feeling makes you queasy.
The tab. If you don’t count gas for the 350-mile round trip, we spent about $420, including $120 a night (for two nights) at House of Another Tyme, and $45 at Gather Wine Bar.
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