12 Things to Do in Atascadero

Welcome to Atascadero, California, a hidden gem located on the beautiful Central Coast! With its small-town charm, breathtaking landscapes, and welcoming community, Atascadero invites visitors to experience the best of California’s laid-back lifestyle.

The Central Coast of California, including the nearby Paso Robles wine region, is known for its exceptional wines. In Atascadero, you can explore wine boutiques and tasting rooms where you can savor a range of local wines, including renowned varietals like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rhône blends.

Atascadero, with a population of approximately 30,000 residents, embodies the spirit of a close-knit community. The town’s history dates back to the early 20th century when it was founded as a planned community.

Today, Atascadero retains its small-town character while embracing modern amenities and a vibrant cultural scene. Let’s have a look together at the best 12 things to do in Atascadero, California:

Things to Do in Atascadero

1. Visit the Charles Paddock Zoo

Charles Paddock Zoo
Image source: atascaderonews.com

Picture yourself strolling through the charming pathways of Charles Paddock Zoo, hand in hand with your family.

Maybe the most beautiful part of the park is the botanical gardens within the zoo are a sight to behold. The lush greenery, vibrant blooms, and carefully landscaped pathways create a tranquil and enchanting atmosphere.

As you meander through the gardens, you’ll be surrounded by a symphony of colors and fragrances, offering a peaceful respite amidst the bustling zoo.

2. Explore the Atascadero Lake Park

The centerpiece of Atascadero Lake Park is the tranquil Atascadero Lake, a man-made lake that covers approximately 25 acres.

Spend time at the picturesque Atascadero Lake Park, offering walking paths, picnic areas, paddleboat rentals, and beautiful views of the lake. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic.

Atascadero Lake Park also offers recreational opportunities on the water and you can rent paddle boats and kayaks to explore the lake at your own pace and enjoy a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape.

3. Discover the Sunken Gardens

sunken gardens atascadero

Visit the historic Atascadero Sunken Gardens, a beautiful park filled with vibrant flowers, landscaped gardens, and a charming fountain. that date back to the 1910s.

It was designed by renowned landscape architect Walter Blackburn and features beautiful pathways, lush greenery, and vibrant flower beds.

While Sunken Gardens is a beautiful outdoor space, it’s important to note that pets may not be allowed in certain areas. Check the park’s regulations regarding pets to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.

4. Enjoy Wine Tasting

Fish Restaurant & Wine Bar

If you come to Atascadero, there is a perfect place to for wine tasting. I recommend the renowned Paso Robles wine region, which offers a multitude of wineries and tasting rooms.

Many wineries in this area are known for producing exceptional wines, particularly red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Rhône blends.

5. Go Hiking in the Santa Lucia Mountains

Santa Lucia Mountains

Spending a couple of hours in nature is always a great idea. Some people come here mainly for this hiking route.

Before your visit make sure you research the specific trails you plan to hike and understand their difficulty levels and current conditions. Some trails in the Santa Lucia Mountains can be challenging, with steep ascents, rocky terrain, or narrow paths.

6. Visit the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial

Freedom Veterans Memorial atascadero

Most of us had a grandparent or know a relative working in the Army, so this is the right opportunity to be grateful for the country we leave in. This memorial honors veterans from all branches of the military and features commemorative plaques, statues, and a reflecting pool.

The memorial features several life-size bronze statues that depict different branches of the military. These statues represent the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. They capture the spirit and dedication of those who have served, creating a poignant visual representation of the sacrifices made by our veterans.

Pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces by visiting the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial.

7. Explore the Historic City Hall

Atascadero Pavilion

If you want to enjoy some architectural splendor, the Historic City Hall is an impressive Spanish Colonial Revival-style building that dates back to 1918. Its elegant design features arched doorways, decorative tile work, and a prominent bell tower.

The building stands as a testament to the rich architectural heritage of the region and showcases the craftsmanship of the time.

8. Golf at Chalk Mountain Golf Course

People learning how to play golf

If you are looking for a new activity and never played golf before, you can start at Chalk Mountain Golf Course. This place is known for its picturesque location nestled amidst the natural beauty of the Central Coast.

As you play, you can enjoy both the panoramic views of rolling hills, oak trees, and the surrounding countryside and the excitement of learning a new sport. The course’s scenic backdrop adds to the overall enjoyment of your golfing experience.

9. Attend an Event at the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake

The pavilion on the Lake hosts a wide range of events throughout the year. These can include concerts, live performances, festivals, community gatherings, weddings, and more.

If you have some free time before or after the event, explore the surrounding area. Atascadero Lake Park, which houses the pavilion, offers recreational activities such as walking trails, picnic spots, and a playground. You can also visit nearby shops, restaurants, or attractions within the city.

Check the event calendar to see what’s happening during your visit and to purchase tickets if required.

10. Taste Local Cuisine

carlton hotel atascadero
Image source: opentable.com

Many restaurants in Atascadero focus on using locally sourced ingredients in their menus, offering farm-to-table dining experiences. This approach ensures that you can savor the freshest flavors, support local farmers and enjoy dishes that highlight the region’s culinary diversity.

One restaurant I recommend is The Carlton Hotel Restaurant and Bar is located in the historic Carlton Hotel building in downtown Atascadero. They pride themselves on creating a farm-to-table dining experience, featuring dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients.

You should not miss this one during your visit or you are going to regret it.

11. Shop at the Historic Downtown

Historic Downtown Atascadero is home to a variety of local boutiques and shops offering a unique selection of products. You’ll find a range of options, including clothing boutiques, gift shops, home decor stores, antique shops, and more.

These establishments often have a distinct character and showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of local artisans and entrepreneurs.

12. Attend the Atascadero Farmers’ Market

People talking at the farmers market

The Atascadero Farmers’ Market takes place in the heart of downtown Atascadero. The market typically operates once a week, offering an opportunity to explore and enjoy local produce, crafts, and entertainment.

So, if you’re visiting on a Wednesday, don’t miss the Atascadero Farmers’ Market from 3 PM to 5 PM.

Experience the vibrant atmosphere, sample local produce, and discover handmade crafts, artisanal products, and live entertainment.

Address: Sunken Gardens, Atascadero, CA 93422, United States

Best things to do in Atascadero with kids

If you are planning a family trip, the good new is that in Atascadero there are activities suitable for children too. So, here’s a list of the top 5 best things to do in Atascadero, California, with your kids:

  1. Charles Paddock Zoo: The Charles Paddock Zoo is a family-friendly attraction that offers a range of animal exhibits, educational programs, and interactive experiences. Kids can observe various animals from around the world and learn about conservation efforts.
  2. Atascadero Lake Park: This park features a picturesque lake where families can enjoy paddle boating and fishing. There are playgrounds, picnic areas, and walking paths, making it a great spot for a leisurely family outing.
  3. Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial: This outdoor memorial honors veterans and provides a space for reflection and education. It includes statues, plaques, and exhibits that can help children learn about the sacrifices of servicemen and women.
  4. Sunken Gardens: Located in the heart of downtown Atascadero, Sunken Gardens is a lovely park with a historic City Hall building as its backdrop. The gardens offer open spaces for children to play, and the area often hosts community events and concerts.
  5. Children’s Museum at the Paso Robles Volunteer Firehouse: While not directly in Atascadero, this nearby children’s museum is worth a visit. It’s an interactive space where kids can learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts through hands-on exhibits and activities.

Best time to visit Atascadero

The best time to visit Atascadero, California, is generally during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is mild and pleasant. Here’s more information about these periods:

Spring (March to May): Spring is considered one of the best times to visit Atascadero. The temperatures are comfortable, ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit (18-24°C). The hills and landscapes are often lush and green after the winter rains, making it a picturesque time to explore outdoor attractions and participate in outdoor activities.

Fall (September to November): Fall is another great time to visit Atascadero. The weather starts to cool down, making it enjoyable for outdoor adventures and exploring the city’s attractions. Temperatures during this time also range from the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit (18-24°C), creating a comfortable atmosphere for sightseeing and outdoor events.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Atascadero California known for?

Atascadero, California, is known for its historic charm, the Charles Paddock Zoo, proximity to Central Coast wineries, and its community-focused events and festivals.

Does Atascadero have a downtown?

Yes, Atascadero does have a downtown area.

Is Atascadero a city or town?

Atascadero is a city located in San Luis Obispo County, California.

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