No Sleep Till Pismo
January 24, 2008 6:44 PM   Subscribe

[Romantic-Mini-Vacation-Filter]: We're off to the Central Californian Coast in a few weeks. What insanely romantic activities can you suggest?

    Next month, I will be spending a romantic weekend in Pismo Beach, CA, with my sweetheart/confidant.* The room is booked for two nights, and the following arrangements are already made:
    • Dinner at Steamers on Friday night (where we shared our first real date over 6 years ago)
    • Hearst Castle on Saturday afternoon (tickets are purchased)
    • Checking out the elephant seals while we’re out in San Simeon
    • Eating at the Apple Farm Inn at some point (their potato pancakes = crazy delicious)
    • The requisite “long walk on the beach”
    Aside from the aforementioned activities (and obviously the late-night hours, which are already spoken for [and during which we will be exceedingly busy]), I don't have much planned. Hence, a slew of questions:
    1. What local wineries can you personally recommend? What sets them apart from the others?
    2. Where might I be able to pick up picnic-type foods that would be good to eat either on the beach or elsewhere? For people familiar with LA, I am looking for something like the Village Gourmet on Hillhurst (adjacent to Alcove Café).
    3. Where are the best, most scenic picnic spots in the area?
    4. How does the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove compare to Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz? Is it worth the visit?
    5. What other super awesome and insanely romantic activities/places/things in the area might you know about?
    I gladly welcome any and all anecdotes and suggestions that the hivemind might have about the Pismo area. Help me turn this into a trip to rival our first rendezvous in Pismo so many years ago!

    * Fortunately, I will not be taking my car.
    posted by numinous to Travel & Transportation around California (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
    The San Simeon elephant seals stink. Many of them on the beach are dead from the exertion required to get there. It's not that romantic. In fact, it's downright nauseating.
    posted by infinitewindow at 7:35 PM on January 24, 2008

    Response by poster: Yes, I've visited the elephant seals before, and they do indeed stink. But I do find them rather fascinating, as does my sweetheart, and as it is something we both enjoy, I find that it lends itself to increasing the fun/romance of the entire trip.
    posted by numinous at 7:44 PM on January 24, 2008

    I LOVE the elephant seals and try to see them whenever I'm up that way. I don't recall too much stink. I saw them last month and a year ago...
    posted by k8t at 7:55 PM on January 24, 2008

    If you can get to Paso Robles, I recommend the following wineries/cellars:

    Peachy Canyon - Not a lot to see, but great wine and nice romantic picnic lunch area.
    Castoro Cellars (right next to Peachy Canyon) - beautiful grounds, and great wine.
    J. Lohr (way other side of PR from the first two, but worth it) - great wine!

    Eberle Winery
    - Excellent tour, and um, great wine.
    posted by tdischino at 8:16 PM on January 24, 2008

    Best answer: occhiblu and I loved the Tolosa and Talley wineries, and then there was that other one we liked, the one with the dog. Wolff, I think. Wolff is in the Edna Valley, in the flight path; you can sit outside and drink a little wine. And there's a dog. Tolosa is a slick operation that barrels and bottles a lot of the local wine for different vineyards; it's interesting to look at their warehouse, the tasting room is well designed, and their pinot is great. Talley is probably the best wine we had in the area; it's been served at the White House.

    The Cracked Crab restaurant is darn near my favorite thing anywhere. They will bring a bucket of different crabs to your table, steamed with corn on the cob, sausage, and potatoes; and just dump it on your table with a bunch of tools to help you eat it.

    A bunch of ladies tried to pick me up the other night in the Lido restaurant in the Dolphin Bay resort (great cocktails; great food; a little pricey.) These ladies assure me that the most romantic thing that can be done is to go to the Sycamore Springs, get a private tub for two nestled up in the hills, bring a bottle of wine, and no bathing suits.

    And by the looks of things, these ladies were no strangers to romance, let me tell you.
    posted by ikkyu2 at 8:36 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: Sycamore Mineral Springs in Avila.

    posted by X4ster at 8:51 PM on January 24, 2008

    Best answer: Ah, I live in SLO! One of my favorite restaurants is Guiseppe's in Pismo. It is so, so romantic with amazing Italian food (coming from someone who used to live in New York...). I would suggest on your way back from Hearst Castle, take a left at the blinking light outside of Cambria to Hwy. 46. It will lead you to some great wineries. I would stop at Grey Wolf, Adelaida, Summerwood, Four Vines, or here's a map. You will eventually meet up with the 101 to take you back to Pismo.
    If you want to stay in the Pismo - SLO area for wineries, I would suggest heading out to Edna Valley. It is a beautiful area with amazing views and great Pinot Noir.
    posted by thesiameseffect at 10:10 PM on January 24, 2008

    If you're going up the 101 to Cumbria/San Simeon, why not stop and walk the beaches in Cayucos? You can see Morro Rock on a clear day and there are some terrific tidal pools if you want to watch shore critters.
    posted by Grrlscout at 3:15 AM on January 25, 2008

    Montana de Oro in Los Osos is one of my favorite natural areas. Great romantic walk material. Also consider driving on Pismo Beach, but don't drive off the path!
    posted by rhizome at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2008

    Response by poster: Ooooh, those mineral springs are exactly what I was after. Thank you for the marvelous suggestion, ikkyu2 and X4ster. I will be reserving a tub there posthaste! Woooo Hoooo Romance!

    And thank you for that great map, thesiameseffect! I will print that ought and stealthily reference it, taking full credit when I find an undoubtedly spectacular winery, thus impressing my sweetheart to no end. (I always appreciate tips from locals, so thank you!)

    Unfortunately, we won't have the time to make it up to Big Sur (though it is a place that has truly captured my heart; I've spent many a day hiking and camping through those forrests!). I will keep those wonderful suggestions in mind, however, the next time I find myself up there.
    posted by numinous at 11:01 AM on January 25, 2008

    Response by poster: Ugh, I meant to type "print that out," not "ought." Clearly brain is preparing itself for the onslaught of good wine and hot tubbing . My apologies!
    posted by numinous at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2008

    I saw the elephant seals just two days ago, and they are all kinds of awesome. They smelled wonderful.

    video (self-link)
    posted by dhammond at 1:48 AM on January 26, 2008

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