The Central Coast has so many things to offer. As a Cal Poly graduate, local business owner and Central Coast resident, I believe that the only thing as great as living here is visiting! From wine tasting to mountain biking, cowboys to surfers, there is something here for everyone and all ages.
My husband, who I met at Cal Poly and has participated with me in Wildflower since we were sophomores, is the Supervising Park Ranger for the City of San Luis Obispo. SLO has 12 different open spaces, 3600 acres of land open to the public with trails, which are roughly 48 miles long. These trails are great for hiking or mountain biking and are mild to straight up hill. Some have spectacular views at the end and some offer fun bridges or obstacles to ride over.
As a sommelier and veteran of the local wine business for over 12 years, I can attest to some amazing wineries in the area. Not only is the wine incredible, but the facilities, views and tours are also amazing. Diverse in its microclimates, the Central Coast produces everything from cool climate white wines like Sauvignon Blanc to big, warm weather wines like Zinfandel. There are currently over 200 wineries to choose from when going on a wine tasting excursion, and even the most ambitious taster can only hit up 3 to 5 in a day.
Not into wine because it affects your training? Other tasting experiences include cheese, nuts, and olive oils. The Central Coast is home to a few different goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheese producers. Rinconada, Alcea Rosea, and Central Coast Creamery to name a few. Negretti Dairy makes sheep’s milk ice cream even! There are over a dozen olive oil producers and a few have tasting rooms where you can sample their products like Olea Farms. Walnuts and almonds grow well and Limerock Orchards makes many products including oil, pesto, and brittle!
Food and restaurants are among the freshest and highest quality. Stock up for your trip at Nature’s Touch farm stand in Templeton. They are a local grocery store offering the highest quality fuel your body needs to compete. They also supply a lot of local restaurants with seasonal local produce. A few of my favorite restaurants include: Il Cortile, Villa Creek, Artisan, and Novo.
The beach and rugged coastline offer a nice getaway. The long, sandy beaches of Cayucos and Morro Bay look like Southern California with amazing weather and surfers, but the wildlife replaces the hoards of people and seems secluded. Continue north and the rugged coastline turns to Big Sur just after the elephant seals and Hearst Castle. You can just drive and enjoy the view, stop to hike to a waterfall or pamper yourself with hot springs and massage.
Any way you do it, the Central Coast is not just a great place to race and live; it’s got a lot of fun activities to offer.
Ali Rush Carscaden is a professional sommelier and the owner of 15c Wine Shop in Templeton, CA. She will be setting up a wine lounge in the festival area during Wildflower, featuring wine tasting, glass and bottle purchases of some of the best Central Coast wines. Check out all the details here!