Recommended by Via – AAA Traveler’s Companion

Head to the Central Coast for merlot and the Mid-State Fair

By Christopher Hall

For years Paso Robles was a sleepy ranch town best known as a rest stop for motorists half-way between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. In 1954, two of the town’s most famous visitors, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, spent the first night of their honeymoon in Paso Robles’s Clifton Motel while en route from San Francisco to a lodge near Palm Springs.

These days, though, Paso Robles—or Paso, as the locals call it—is a destination unto itself. Located north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 101 and about 25 miles from the coast, it is the center of one of California’s fastest-growing wine regions. People now come to taste a slew of award-winning vintages and discover plenty of other pleasures, from antiquing and Western trail rides to a big country fair and bandstand concerts in a shaded park.

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