BEST OF SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

CAL­I­FOR­NIA

Canadian Geographic - - DEPARTURES / CITIES & SIGHTS - —Harry Wilson

With San Fran­cisco beck­on­ing you north and Los An­ge­les tempt­ing you south, there might not seem a need to linger in San Luis Obispo County — but that’s ex­actly what vis­i­tors pass­ing through this de­light­fully low-key part of Cal­i­for­nia’s Cen­tral Coast should do. Here are five must-not-miss things to ex­pe­ri­ence while stretch­ing out your stay.

1 HIGH­WAY 1

Set your rental (best make it a con­vert­ible, by the way) to cruise con­trol and me­an­der the 163-kilo­me­tre Cal­i­for­nia High­way 1 Dis­cov­ery Route, which mostly hugs the coast­line and passes 10 key des­ti­na­tions in San Luis Obispo County, from the south­ern­most cliffs of Big Sur at Ragged Point ( LEFT) and the grandiose Hearst Cas­tle at San Simeon in the north to the winer­ies of the Ar­royo Grande Val­ley in the south. high­way1dis­cov­ery­route.com

2 WIN­NING WINES Paso Robles

By­pass Sonoma and Napa — where vine­yards and vis­i­tors can seem clus­tered as tightly as grapes on a vine — be­cause there’s more room to breathe in Paso, as the lo­cals call this small city and the 248,000 hectares of wine coun­try that sur­round it. With 200-plus winer­ies and more than 40 va­ri­etals (the re­gion is renowned for its Zin­fan­del and Cab Sauv), Paso should be on ev­ery oenophile’s list. pa­sowine.com

3 COASTAL COOL Morro Bay

The vibe on the Cen­tral Coast doesn’t get much more chilled out than it is here, whether you’re kayak­ing past the an­cient vol­canic plug that is Morro Rock or wan­der­ing among the shops, bars and restau­rants lin­ing the water­front. Don’t miss the ex­cel­lent wine se­lec­tion and char­cu­terie at Stax Wine Bar & Bistro, and the stand­out seafood (try the seared ahi tuna) at The Gal­ley. mor­robay.org

4 DUNE DES­TI­NA­TION Oceano

Good luck find­ing a more mes­mer­iz­ing ex­panse of sand in Cal­i­for­nia than the Oceano Dunes State Ve­hic­u­lar Re­cre­ation Area, the largest dune com­plex in the state. It’s fa­mous for be­ing the only Cal­i­for­nia state park where ve­hi­cles can be driven on the beach, but the real ad­ven­ture — hik­ing, horse­back rid­ing, dune bug­gy­ing and camp­ing — is found amid the ver­tig­i­nous wind-sculpted dunes. slo­cal.com/ex­plore/oceano

5 LA DOLCE VITA Al­le­gretto Vine­yard Re­sort, Paso Robles

The last place you’d ex­pect to find an idyl­lic Ital­ianate re­treat is in a res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood a stone’s throw from a ma­jor high­way, a col­lege and a strip mall, but the Al­le­gretto in­su­lates you from its pedes­trian sur­round­ings with stylish aplomb. The vine­yard, tast­ing room and 1,100-square-me­tre pi­azza help, as do the art-filled cor­ri­dors, olive or­chard and the north­ern Ital­ian-in­spired cui­sine at Cello. al­le­gret­tovine­yardresort.com

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