WanderrunwaychefUSA, LA, California

A Weekend Getaway from LA // 36 Hours in Central Coast

WanderrunwaychefUSA, LA, California
A Weekend Getaway from LA // 36 Hours in Central Coast

The Mr. + I celebrated our 6 year anniversary this past Saturday.

While we had grand plans to go somewhere like Hawaii or Japan, our schedules have been so hectic, we barely had time to plan even a weekend getaway, until it was almost too late. So, last week, we scrambled to plan a quick trip, not only so we could celebrate 6 years, but also because I’m pretty we were both on the verge of losing our minds from the current state of our schedules and if we didn't step away from work, even for just a bit, it would have been full on breakdown central here at RC HQ.

We had driven through the Central Coast area, stopping in Pismo Beach, on our way up to Big Sur earlier this year, and after hearing so much about it, as well as nearby San Luis Obispo and the wineries in the region, we decided it would be fun to explore the area. We felt like there would be enough to do without getting bored, but not so much that we would get overwhelmed and leave feeling like we had missed out on so much. Plus, it’s only about 2.5 hours away from where we live, making it a perfect weekend getaway from LA. Here’s what we did in 36 hours in Central Coast:


8:00am Wake-up, get ready + check out of our hotel

9:00am Pick up donuts + coffee from Surfside Donuts; head one block over to the beach to enjoy it // This place caught my eye on the gram (Of course!) not only because they serve Stumptown Coffee, but because of a drink they make, a Smoked Salted Caramel Latte.It did not disappoint. In fact, it has ruined almost all other future caramel lattes for me. And, true to their namesake, this place also happens to have some pretty insane donuts, with all kinds of crazy flavors.. We got the Wake n’ Bake, a caramel cream stuffed donut with a pipette of Stumptown cold brew, and despite the fact that I usually shy away from overly sweet things like this, it was pretty darn good. We also got their mini cranberry fritters (Yum!). Be prepared for a bit of a wait (the line was out the door when we arrived) and get there early (they were already sold out of many of their flavors when we got there, although they do seem to restock some of them throughout the morning).

9:30am Head over to Pacific Dunes Ranch for horseback riding // I have no words for this experience because it was just so darn amazing. It’s a little over an hour long trail ride that takes you through a magical forest, onto dune preserves that look like something straight out of the Sahara (Side note- Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was partially filmed here and both Rihanna and Nick Jonas have filmed things here, as well.) and then finally the beach. The ride is beautiful, the horses are amazing, our guide was incredible and it was only $60 a person. By far one of the best things we’ve done since moving to the West Coast.

11:30am Check out the Monarch Butterfly Preserve // Monarch butterflies flock to this park for the winter, so, from late October through February, if you stop by the preserve, you will see hundreds of thousands of butterflies. It also happens to be a massive preserve, with beach access and lots of pretty walking trails, so you could easily spend an afternoon here. It’s free to visit and you can just street park across from the entrance.

1:00pm Grab lunch at Central Coast Meat Market // This newer spot (They’ve only been open a little under a year.) is dishing out some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had, and at really reasonable prices, too. We got a 2 meat combo (that comes with 2 sides) and a drink, with tip, for under $18. And it was so much food, that we actually had enough for both lunch and dinner. We got the pulled pork, mac n’ cheese (OMG!), coleslaw and brisket. I don’t even like brisket and I couldn’t stop eating this one!

2:15pm Vintage shopping at Ruby Rose // They have a variety of used, vintage and antique clothing pieces and home goods. The store is well-curated and really fun to check out!

3:00pm Shopping in San Luis Obispo // There are so many cute stores in downtown SLO, especially home goods stores. We popped into several but my fave (where we ended up buying a few things) was a spot called Len Collective.

4:00pm Afternoon pick-me-up at Scout Coffee // We LOVED this spot. They have two locations (We went to the Garden St. one), they roast their own beans and they have some very unique and yummy lattes, flavors, homemade almond milk and syrups. We tried the butterscotch latte and a cappuccino with wilderness syrup (a house-made syrup with notes of maple, Douglas fir and citrus), and both were insanely good. This spot is definitely getting added to my list of all-time favorite coffee shops ever!

5:00pm Start to make our way home, stopping along PCH for the views and sunsets

8:00pm Home + already plotting our next adventure back to Central Coast

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10:00am Leave Santa Monica

11:15am Stop in Malibu to pick-up a breakfast burrito from Lily’s for the road // Get the Loaded Burrito. It’s packed with everything from chorizo to potatoes and is way more than enough for 2 people to share. (Pro Tip: Order at least 15 minutes ahead for pick-up to avoid the usual long wait times.)

2:15pm Arrive at Biddle Ranch Vineyard // This place is just stunning! Buy a bottle of wine (The sauvignon blanc is delicious!) and park yourself at one of their many outdoor seating areas amongst the olive tree groves to enjoy said bottle in the afternoon sun. FYI, they do sell cheese plates, but you can bring your own food (highly suggest this), you can call ahead to reserve a table, and they do offer tastings.

5:00pm Head over to Pismo Beach to check into our hotel // We booked a beachside property last minute using are forever-favorite, HotelTonight (use my code APONTICELLO for $25 off your first booking).

6:00pm Go for a sunset beach walk // Our hotel had a cliff walk with steps leading down to the beach, so it was super easy to take a sunset walk right after putting our bags in the room.

7:00pm Head out to pick up stuff for cheese + crackers by the fire pit // There’s a Trader Joe’s in Pismo Beach, so it was super easy to grab everything we needed for a proper cheese spread. Our selects: cinnamon dusted syrah cheese, proscuitto, dried pears, truffle salted marcana almonds, fig crisps. salted sesame carmels and a bottle of red.

8:00-10:15pm Post up by the fire pit, eat cheese, drink wine, listen to the waves