Picture of the fountain in the Sunken Garden in Atascadero with the Historic City Hall in the background

13 Top Things to Do on a Weekend Getaway to Atascadero

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If you are looking for a weekend getaway to California’s Central Coast, Atascadero should be high on your list of towns to visit. Atascadero is located in California’s wine country. There are many wonderful things to do and see during a weekend getaway to Atascadero. Its location in the heart of wine country lends itself to having some incredible views of rolling hills full of vineyards. There are many hiking opportunities in the nearby mountains and a few lakes nearby. You will not regret making Atascadero one of your stops on a California Central Coast weekend getaway. Keep reading to learn about the many fun things to do in Atascadero.

Where is Atascadero

The town of Atascadero is halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, off Highway 101. Atascadero is about 5 miles south of Templeton, 14 miles south of Paso Robles, and about 17 miles or 26 minutes west of Morro Bay. Its location makes it a great place to stop and visit while going on a road trip to California’s Central Coast towns like Paso Robles and Templeton or while visiting California’s Central Coast Beach towns. Whichever type of road trip you take, you will find many fun things to do in Atascadero.  

Clock in Downtown Atascadero
Clock in downtown Atascadero

When is the Best Time to Visit Atascadero

Atascadero has great weather year-round so anytime is a good time to visit Atascadero. There are a few things you should keep in mind when planning your visit to Atascadero.  

During the spring, flowers begin to bloom, and the buds begin to break on the vineyards. It is a beautiful, picturesque time of the year in Central California. The weather is also milder than during the summer months.

Atascadero is inland and can be hot during the summertime. However, since Atascadero is only a 30-minute drive to nearby coastal towns, summer is the perfect time to visit. You can include a visit to the coast as part of your Atascadero weekend getaway to take a break from the summer heat.

During the fall, between late August and November, wine grapes are harvested in California’s Central Coast wine region. This is a great time to visit Atascadero, as many wineries host special events during harvest season.  

During the winter, the weather hovers in the low 60s but can dip lower than 60 degrees, so you should have a jacket handy. The vineyards are bare after the fall harvest and not as green as other months. However, it is still a great time to visit Atascadero as you can still explore the surrounding wineries. Also, there are many special events that take place during the holiday season, such as the Christmas market in the nearby town of Cambria

How Many Days Should You Stay in Atascadero

The number of days you should stay depends on what you would like to do on your weekend getaway to Atascadero. Atascadero is a mid-size small town, and there is lots to see and explore. There is even more to explore when you add the surrounding region to the mix. A three-day stay in Atascadero would be perfect. Atascadero has a slower pace than most large towns, and it is the perfect town to unwind, relax, go hiking, and enjoy the outdoors. Staying three days would allow you to see many things that Atascadero offers and parts of the surrounding wine country.  You can add a day if you would like to explore more of the surrounding region.  

The Best Way to Get to Atascadero 

The best way to get to Atascadero is by driving. You will have more flexibility and not have to worry about schedules if you rely on rideshare. It will make it easier to visit nearby towns and the surrounding wine country.  

Can You Get to Atascadero by Bus or Train

If you would like to visit Atascadero by bus or train, you can do that. However, the nearest stop for both the bus and the train is in Paso Robles. Paso Robles is about 14 miles from Atascadero. You would need to take a bus, taxi, or rideshare to get to Atascadero. It is more convenient to have a car so that you can explore Atascadero and the surrounding area. 

Are Uber and Lyft Available in Atascadero

Yes, both Uber and Lyft are available in Atascadero. Using Uber and Lyft is a convenient way to get around town. However, your cost will go up if you would like to use a rideshare program to explore the surrounding wine region. You can opt to take a tour of different wineries in the region. This is ideal as you would not have to worry about needing a designated driver since your tour guide would handle all the driving. 

Visit Downtown Atascadero

Downtown Atascadero has a charming, small-town, vibrant atmosphere. You will find downtown Atascadero’s historic streets lined with many shops, boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants to choose from. You can spend a leisurely day exploring the local art galleries, enjoying artisanal coffee, shopping, and exploring the various sites located in and around the town square, such as the Sunken Garden, historic City Hall, and the Farmers Market. There are many wonderful things to do in downtown Atascadero. 

Downtown Atascadero
Downtown Atascadero

Visit the Sunken Gardens Park in Atascadero

The Sunken Gardens Park is a large park located in the center of Atascadero at 5942 West Mall.  The park has a huge lawn area, several walkways, and a fountain in the center. Sunken Gardens is the perfect place to spend some time relaxing on your weekend getaway to Atascadero. The Sunken Gardens is a great place to take in the peaceful view of the park, or just enjoy a stroll along the many walkways in the park. Sunken Gardens Park is also where many Atascadero community events are held, such as the weekly Farmers Market.  

Picture of the fountain in the Sunken Garden in Atascadero with the Historic City Hall in the background
Sunken Garden in Atascadero

Visit Atascadero’s Historic City Hall

Atascadero’s City Hall is a beautiful building and stands out as you visit the Sunken Gardens. The City Hall has a long history dating back to the early 1900s. The building was damaged during the 2003 San Simeon 6.5 magnitude earthquake. The damage from the earthquake was substantial and led to a ten-year closure while the building was repaired and retrofitted. The building opened again in 2013. Nowadays, you can tour the historic City Hall Building. The first floor is open to the public, and you can explore a couple of rooms available to the public. For a more in-depth tour of the historic City Hall recommend taking a docent-led tour.  Reservations are required as the docent-led tours are by appointment.  It is worth making a reservation for the tour as the docents are very knowledgeable about the history of the building and Atascadero. 

The historic City Hall is located in downtown Atascadero across from the Sunken Gardens at 6500 Palma Avenue. City Hall is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Part of the Historical Museum is located in City Hall.

Atascadero City Hall
Atascadero City Hall

Visit the Atascadero Colony Historical Museum

The Atascadero Historical Society has two museums available to visit during your visit to Atascadero. The first one is located within the Historical City Hall, and the second one is located at the Colony House in Centennial Plaza. Right next to the Colony House Museum you will find Centennial Bridge. The bridge is a walkway to a retail center across the creek.  The Colony House is located at 6600 Lewis Avenue and is open on Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. 

Atascadero Historical Museum
Colony House Historical Museum
Centennial Bridge at Centennial Plaza in Atascadero
Centennial Bridge

Have a Cup of Coffee at Malibu Brew

Malibu Brew is a great coffee shop across from Sunken Gardens Park in Atascadero. Malibu Brew was voted the best coffee house four years in a row. I had the medium roast gourmet coffee, which is the house brew. The coffee was delicious and flavorful. I usually order a brew because a regular brew sets the tone for many drinks offered in a coffee shop. The coffee at Malibu Brew was very good. Reya had the Mexican Mocha, which she describes as a hug in a cup. The Mexican Mocha is a rich, dark chocolate mocha infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. The cayenne was not overwhelming. The Mexican Mocha was absolutely delicious! If you would like a bite to eat, they also have pastries, burritos, and ice cream. They have two outdoor patios for you to enjoy your coffee. Malibu Brew is located at 5955 East Mall in Atascadero.

Reya having coffee at Malibu Brew in Atascadero
Reya having a cup of coffee at Malibu Brew

Visit the Atascadero Farmers Market

If you are seeking fresh and locally sourced produce, the Atascadero Farmers Market is the place to go. California’s Central Coast is a huge farming region, this is noticeable at the Atascadero Farmers Market, as you will find many fresh vegetables and fruits that are grown locally. You will also find honey, wine, olive oil,  and many other artisanal goods available for purchase. The Atascadero Farmers Market is held every Wednesday from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm near the beautiful Sunken Gardens.

Vegetables at the Atascadero Farmers Market
Vegetables at the Farmers Market

Visit the Lewis Avenue Bridge

The Lewis Avenue Bridge was built to connect Atascadero’s historic downtown to a nearby retail center. The Lewis Avenue Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans across the Atascadero Creek. The bridge makes for a nice walk from the downtown area to the retail center located on the other side of the bridge. One of the goals was to make the area more feasible accessible, revitalize the retail area, and bring more customers to its location. The Lewis Bridge is a very nice modern bridge and great to photograph.

Lewis Avenue Bridge in downtown Atascadero
Lewis Avenue Bridge in downtown Atascadero

Take a Day Trip to Atascadero Lake Park 

If you are a nature enthusiast, then you will enjoy spending time at Atascadero Lake Park. Atascadero Lake Park is a tranquil park with a large beautiful lake in the center of the park. This expansive park has many walking trails, picnic areas, and recreational activities for all members of the family. You can kayak or paddleboat on the lake or simply enjoy a peaceful stroll along the water’s edge. The trail around the water’s edge is approximately 1.3 miles and is perfect for everyone as it is an easy loop trail. The trail is dog-friendly, but dogs should be kept on a leash. 

There are also playgrounds for children, designated areas for barbecues and gatherings, and bathroom facilities. Concerts in the park are held during the summer, making a summer visit an even more enjoyable experience as you can picnic while listening to live music in the evening. 

Atascadero Lake Park is located at 9305 Pismo Avenue, and it is definitely worth spending a few hours visiting the park. 

The lake at Atascadero Lake Park
View of the lake at Atascadero Lake Park
Picture of the Atascadero Lake in Atascadero
Atascadero Lake Park

Visit Charles Paddock Zoo

Charles Paddock Zoo is the only zoo on California’s Central Coast. You will find many species from around the world at the zoo. There are many animals to see, ranging from flamingos to alligators to tigers. Visiting the zoo is a nice addition if you are spending the day at Atascadero Lake Park since the zoo is located on the grounds of the Park. Both the zoo and the lake park are a couple of fun things to do in Atascadero, especially if you have kids.  

The zoo is located at 9100 Morro Road towards the south end of Atascadero Lake Park. The zoo is open 7 days but closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm during the winter season and 10:00 am and 5:00 pm during the rest of the year. 

Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero
Entrance to Charles Paddock Zoo
Pictures of pink flamingos at the Paddock Zoo at the Atascadero Lake
Pink flamingos at the Paddock Zoo

Visit the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial

The Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial is a beautiful memorial that honors the service of all veterans who have served in our nation’s military. There is a special emphasis on veterans from San Luis Obispo. The Memorial is located on the north end of Atascadero Park on the corner of Highway 41 and Portola Road.

Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial is Atascadero
Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial in Atascadero

Enjoy a Few Hikes During Your Weekend Getaway to Atascadero

If you are looking to go hiking in Atascadero during your visit, there are a few trails you should consider. 

Hike the Oak Woodland Loop Trail

The Oak Woodland Loop trail is located in the Three Bridges Oak Preserve. You will find the trailhead at 9930 Carmelita Avenue, with parking off Highway 41. The Oak Woodland Loop trail is a 3.5-mile loop and is considered a moderate hike. It takes a little under two hours to complete this trail. The trail is well maintained and clearly marked. It has a nice incline and lots of shade throughout the trail. The trail is dog-friendly; however, you should keep your dog on a leash. 

Hike the Jim Green Trail in Atascadero

The Jim Green hiking trail is a 1.7-mile easy loop trail that goes through Helilman Regional Park. The trail is located at 7895 Cortez Avenue, off Curbaril Avenue. There is a small parking lot right before the trail begins. The trailhead begins toward the end of Cortez Avenue and starts from the parking lot area.

The Jim Green hiking trail goes along a fence right across from the train tracks, which run parallel to the trail path. The trail is a dirt path and not paved. As you make your way through the trail, you will come to a fork in the hiking path. You can proceed on either path, as the trail will loop around. Regardless of the path you take, you will return to the same place. There is a little bit of elevation as you make your way along the trail. However, the elevation gain is not much, and the trail remains easy throughout the hike. You will also have some nice shade and a view of a golf course as you make your way along the trail. The hiking trail can be completed in under an hour. The trail is dog-friendly; however, you should have your dog on a leash.

Hike the Stadium Park Trails

Stadium Park is located near downtown Atascadero, off Highway 41. There are four different trails available to hike at Stadium Park, making this a great place to do some hiking in Atascadero. When you reach the summit, you will have a beautiful view of downtown Atascadero. Stadium Park really is a gem in Atascadero. It’s not too far from Templeton and a great place to spend some time outdoors. It is one of the top things to do while visiting Atascadero, as you can go on four hikes and have a wonderful day enjoying the outdoors. 

Stadium Park Sign
Stadium Park in Atascadero
RoseBee and Reya Hiking at Stadium Park
Rosby and Reya Hiking at Stadium Park

Hike the Pine Mountain Loop Trail

Pine Mountain Loop is a 1.7-mile loop trail that is considered a moderate hike and can be completed in under 1 hour. Part of the trail is steep and can be slippery if there has been rain. You will have many beautiful views along the trail, especially when you reach the top. The trail is dog-friendly; however, you should have your dog on a leash. 

Hike the Blue Oak Trail, ALPS Trail, and the Marj Mackey Trail

These four trails connect to each other to make a 2.0-mile loop trail. It is a moderate trail and will take a little over an hour to complete. Part of the trail, along the switchbacks, is steep and can be slippery. You will have great views as you make your way along the trails. 

Beginning of ALPS Trail at Stadium Park in Atascadero
Start of the ALPS Trail
Switchbacks at the ALPS hiking trail
Switchbacks at the ALPS hiking trail

Visit Lake Nacimiento

Lake Nacimiento is not exactly in Atascadero or Templeton, but it is worth mentioning. If you are looking for other things to do near Templeton or are wondering where you can venture off to during your visit to Atascadero, then it might be worth going on a short road trip to nearby Lake Nacimiento. The lake is 18 miles long and is a great place to go boating, water skiing, and fishing. There are camping facilities available and many hiking trails to enjoy. There are also lodging accommodations available if you decide to spend the night at the lake.

Visit Carrizo Plain National Monument 

Carrizo Plain National Monument is further out than Lake Nacimiento. It is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from Atascadero. Carrizo Plain National Monument is worth mentioning because of the wildflowers that bloom in March and April. The hills of the plain fill with wildflowers, creating a beautiful blanket of color. If you are in the area during March or April, a drive to Carrizo Plain National Monument is worth considering. 

Is a Weekend Getaway to Atascadero Worth It

There are many wonderful things to see and things to do in Atascadero. The incredible small-town charm of the downtown area, the historic buildings, and the beautiful outdoor hikes are just some of the fun things to do in Atascadero. When you include the surrounding wine country and the many wineries you can visit, there is no doubt that you will have the perfect visit to the California Central Coast and the best weekend getaway to Atascadero. So, Yes! A weekend getaway to Atascadero is worth it!

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