A Road Trip to Paso Robles

Raise your hand if you’re going stir crazy sitting at home. I know I’ve been. With my last assignment for the website in February, I was thrilled when the newly opened Stables Inn of Downtown Paso Robles invited me for a stay. Given the strange times we’re in, of course, I had pros and cons to consider. Despite there certainly being some cons (hello, pandemic) I decided that I felt confident to head out of town safely for a few days. The results? Read on to discover the fun enjoyed while on my first road trip in seven months! 

Cruising Highway 101

Knowing the route well, I loved hitting the road early from LA. I cruised up the Central Coast through some of my most favorite places along Highways 101 and 1. Although pit stops certainly looked different (exhibits closed, social distancing enforced, etc) there was still plenty to enjoy. I grabbed lots of goodies to munch on along the way and enjoyed the ride. Several places are indeed open, just with restrictions in place.

I’ll be honest, wearing my mask is still my biggest nuisance. This was especially apparent in Solvang as I wanted to walk the main streets, yet dealt with very hot September temperatures. Stopping for my favorite bubble gum ice cream at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory helped a bit, though…..

The Stables Inn

After a few more pull-offs at old favorites like Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, I was ready to kick back and get settled at the Stables. Located in the center of Paso Robles on Spring Street, the boutique accommodations have recently reopened having once been a motor hotel. Its rustic accents and tree-lined veranda immediately drew me in.

Checking in was a breeze thanks to Lindsey Sparkman, the Inn’s General Manager. Lindsey went above and beyond to ensure I felt right at home. She offered me a bottle of local wine and gave me a detailed tour of the western-inspired grounds. Being the sister property of the nearby Hotel Cheval, Stables Inn offers its visitors an ideal stay at a modest price. Best part? You’re whistling distance to downtown and Wine Country. 

Enjoying my Suite

Since it was my first hotel stay in a pandemic world, I’ll admit: I was a little anxious. Despite bringing my pillow from home and plenty of sanitizer wipes, I had nothing to worry about. I was very pleased with the cleanliness of my king bed suite. The TV remote was cleverly wrapped and tied in a plastic baggy, and there were masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer available throughout the hotel.

Although the room was cozy, it boasted more of those Western vibes and felt very authentic. It brought to mind my stays at Carmel Valley’s Holman Ranch and Messina Hof in Texas. Since the space is small, it makes for all the more reason to enjoy the atmosphere outside of your door.

The Tack Room, attached to the front desk, offers an espresso machine, teas, waters, as well as tables and chairs to get work done. Each evening, enjoy a glass of wine on the veranda as you watch  the sunset. In the AM, enjoy coffee with a complimentary pastry from San Luis Obispo’s Edna’s Bakery.

As far as dining in town, Paso certainly isn’t lacking great cuisine. Downtown is a mere few blocks up from the hotel. If you need to make a big store run to Target or the supermarket, they’ve got you covered, too. I realized I needed some toiletries and it was just five minutes away by car.

Field of Light at Sensorio

As soon as plans were set to travel to Paso Robles, I knew I had to experience Sensorio. Easily one of the most talked-about exhibits in the USA this year, Sensorio is the brainchild of acclaimed visual artist, Bruce Munro. The walkthrough art installation is made up of over 58,800 stemmed spheres lit by fiber-optics. As the sun sets and the sky gets dark, the solar-powered lights illuminate the landscape in subtle blooms of morphing color that describe the undulating landscape. It’s one of the most “Insta-worthy” events I’ve been to, and something you truly need to see to believe. 

In these vulnerable times, I’ve been asked about the safety of attending Sensorio. While it’s an outdoor event with wide-open spaces, it attracts the crowds. Rest assured, I felt extremely safe as I enjoyed it. A minimal amount of attendees are allowed at a time, and I went through a checkpoint before being ok’d in. My temperature was checked, I was asked if I’ve had any Covid symptoms, and staff is everywhere ensuring masks are kept on.

As you walk through the exhibit, all paths are one way to reduce crowd congestion. If you don’t get to go a way you’d wanted, you can circle through as often as you’d like. I recommend after your first time through to peruse the food trucks and bars available at the entrance. There’s an array of options each night and live music on the weekends. 

I enjoyed VIP access but admit: I would have been fine with general admission. While VIP grants you upgraded viewing points and a private bar (drinks/food not included), I enjoyed my views throughout the experience all of the same. Exclusive tables and chairs are also available for VIP ticket holders but be prepared that they fill up quickly. 

Plan your #CARoadTrip to Paso Robles 

Travel Paso is doing all kinds of fun stuff to keep 2020 a bit….normal? Fun? Check out their website HERE to plan your own adventure (I didn’t even get into their wine country and downtown mecca of shops and eats). If you’re planning a road trip, make sure to use hashtag #CARoadTrip to highlight your fun along the way. Cheers! 

(*Disclosure: Special thanks to the Stables Inn and Travel Paso for making this getaway possible. All opinions are my own and it’s a fantastic place to visit.)

  1. Jen

    October 21, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Great travel recap! Stables Inn looks charming & I’ll add this to my list of places to stay. Sensorio looks amazing! Thanks for going into great detail about their safety protocols. It’s very reassuring to know the staff goes to great lengths.

    1. AlongComesMary

      October 27, 2020 at 10:49 am

      It was a great visit for sure!!:-)

  2. Bobbie Kitto

    October 21, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Loved your story. Have vacationed up in that area for years, but Paseo Robles never interested me until now. Looking forward to putting it on my must visit location soon.

    1. AlongComesMary

      October 27, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Thank you so much, Bobbie!!

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