Whether you’re just visiting the area or a local resident looking for something fun to do in the Paso Robles area, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve lived in the area since 2000 and have explored so many wonderful areas of San Luis Obispo County. Now that I have kids of my own, I love exploring even more. But it can be difficult to think of family friendly things to do. I’m here to help!
I’ve visited other areas of California and have been fortunate enough to learn from the locals about the hidden gems and family friendly things to do (my husband is a social butterfly and asks all the good questions when we go out). So I thought I would repay the favor and let you in on some of my family’s favorite things to do in the area.
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The Atascadero Zoo (Charles Paddock Zoo)
The Charles Paddock Zoo is a short drive from Paso Robles, but worth the 10 minutes or so it will take you to get there. It’s a rather small zoo, but the small price reflects that. The biggest attraction at the zoo is the tiger. Many times, we’ve seen him lounging in the water, taking a little stroll around his enclosure and even chatting with the crowd as he seems to find enjoyment when talking to us (short tiger “meows”).
The zoo recently expanded the Red Panda area and they even have a party zone for hosting birthday parties and other group events. The park is kept very clean and you can tell that the animals are well-cared-for and quite content to live the life of leisure in a small town.
Flamingos. red pandas, giant tortoises, porcupines, meerkats, monkeys and so many other species can be seen at the zoo. It’s a great way to learn more about some of the animals we share the planet with. Learn more about the Charles Paddock Zoo on their website. https://charlespaddockzoo.org/
The Ravine Water Park
The Ravine Water Park is one of the best ways to beat the heat AND have a blast with your family! The park is open seasonally, usually starting late May through the first week of September. Along with several water slides, there is a wading pool for the little ones, a lazy river, a wave pool and even a mini golf course with a full 18 holes.
Cabanas can be rented for the day to guarantee shade and a spot to sit, but these are reserved quickly, so it’s best to plan ahead and reserve your cabana as soon as possible. No outside food or beverages are allowed and they really do stick to this, so don’t plan to sneak any in. You’ll get caught! However, the food prices inside the park are not outrageous, so planning to buy food while you’re there won’t break your budget completely.
As far as family fun in the Paso Robles area, this is one of the best! It’s hard to beat a water park in the summer! What’s more family friendly than that? For more information or to buy tickets, visit their website at https://ravinewaterpark.com/.
Avila Valley Barn
The Avila Valley Barn is another amazing, family friendly attraction on the Central Coast. It’s a little bit of a drive from Paso Robles, but is definitely a local favorite. Activities at the Avila Valley Barn vary depending on the time of year, but they always have the ice cream shop, fresh produce and fresh baked pies.
They also have a variety of farm animals for your family to feed. They sell bags of lettuce and other leafy greens that you can feed to the animals whenever you would like. Some of the animals come and go, but they always have goats, chickens and a pony or two. I’ve also seen pigs, turkeys, sheep, llamas, cows and the occasional rooster crowing on a hay bale.
Seasonal activities include apple picking, berry picking, pony rides, hay rides through the orchard, a pumpkin patch and other various fall attractions. They are open year round and your family will have fun here for several hours. To learn more about the Avila Valley Barn, visit their website at https://www.avilavalleybarn.com/.
Hearst Castle is officially open for tours again following a long shut-down due to Covid. Older kids (ages 10+) will appreciate Hearst Castle much more than little ones, but every age will appreciate the grandeur of the estate. Guided tours allow you to explore the property and see the amazing architecture and antique pieces that fill the mansion. There are four different tours to choose from, or you can take all four! The Neptune Pool is a must-see, especially if you’ve never seen a pool with real gold at the bottom!
On your drive to the castle, you’ll experience some of the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and you might just spot a herd of zebras along the roadside. William Hearst once kept his own herd of zebras on the property and the ones you see today are descendants from those zebras. They are always fun to spot on the drive up the coast.
To learn more about Hearst Castle or to buy tickets, visit https://hearstcastle.org/.