Explore the vineyards, farms and rolling hills bursting with vibrant colors this fall season in San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL), located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s Central Coast. From wildlife viewing to helping with the local harvest, visitors will enjoy an abundance of activities paired with delicious autumn events. Fall fun is in full effect in SLO CAL, where the sun—and fun—will be shining!
Become a harvesting connoisseur!
Whether picking the juiciest apples from orchard trees or gathering plump grapes from the vines of local wineries, guests will want to experience fall in SLO CAL. Avila Valley Barn, along with many other you-pick farms in SLO CAL, allows guests to spend their day picking apples to take home and enjoy. A day of apple picking is perfectly followed by dessert of the Barn’s delicious homemade pies, hot apple cider and fresh produce.
Or pack a picnic for the family and head to the See Canyon Fruit Ranch, where there’s an abundance of organic produce, local cider, honey and other fresh treats. For a more adult day of harvesting, guests can pick and crush grapes or bottle wine during Harvest Wine Weekend (Oct. 20-22) in Paso Robles Wine Country. Here, over 200 wineries are bustling with harvest-focused events and winemaker dinners. In SLO Wine Country, there are more behind-the-scenes vineyard activities at Harvest on the Coast (Nov. 3-6). This event features a grand tasting, a wine auction and special Surf’s Up Sunday to round out the weekend.
Take a cheese- or sausage-making class with FARMstead Ed, a ‘must do’ harvesting activity in SLO CAL. FARMstead Ed offers a variety of educational and hands-on experiences at local farms, ranches and ag-related venues.
Taste before you buy
In SLO CAL, wine tasting is found on every corner, with over 250 wineries vinifying 40 different grape varieties. While great wine is abundant in SLO CAL, it’s not the only thing to taste this fall. The Paso Robles climate creates one of the best regions to grow olives and press olive oil. The harvest takes begins in mid-October/November and tasting rooms around SLO CAL showcase these carefully pressed, high-quality oils. Visit The Groves on 41, where guests can take private tours and lounge in the outdoor beauty of country living, or stop by the Pasolivo tasting room and try their Tangerine Olive Oil, among other artisan goodies.
After tasting olive oils, satisfy your sweet tooth with locally grown honey! SLO CAL farms supply delectable and unique flavors of honey, like clover, orange blossom, pomegranate, avocado and more. The local honey is raw, natural and unfiltered which makes for some delicious sampling. Stop by the Golden Oak Honey Festival (Oct. 28) to try all of the flavors.
Finally, take in some aromatherapy with the soothing scents of the Harmony Lavender Farm, located in Atascadero. With products including Lavender Mint Tea, guests will be sure to enjoy a rejuvenating experience at this therapeutic garden.
Fall in love with nature
Nature is all around in SLO CAL you won't want to miss out on the area’s unique wildlife experiences. Covell’s California Clydesdales is home to Monterey Pines and, of course, majestic Clydesdale horses. As a nature conservation easement, the property showcases exquisite views of the ocean. A trip to this ranch is perfect for horse and nature lovers of all ages.
Just north from there on Highway 1, the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery offers six miles of shoreline covered in thousands of Elephant Seals with peak season from October to December.
An ocean view and the famous Morro Rock await in Morro Bay, where guests can take a trip on an autumn sunset cruise. Explore the beautiful coastline on a quaint boat ride perfect for viewing the sky’s color array, enchanting sea life and the serene bay.
Finally, marvel at thousands of black-and-orange Monarch butterflies as they make their fall migration to temperate Pismo Beach, one of California’s quintessential beach towns. This year’s epic butterfly season begins with the Monarch Grove Grand Opening Celebration (October), featuring family-friendly activities, interesting displays and close encounters with thousands of winged wonders.
Fall into the Halloween spirit
Get in the spirit of fall and celebrate Halloween this year in SLO CAL. The city of San Luis Obispo is famous for its local Thursday night Farmers Market, offering local food, fresh produce and the annual Great Pumpkin and Scarecrow Contest in the Mission Plaza.
Further north, scarecrows take over Cambria for the Cambria Scarecrow Festival (Oct. 1-31). This community-wide event features hundreds of scarecrows and has become one of the most unique festivals of hand-crafted folk art in the United States. Pumpkins fill the town of Pismo Beach in autumn, especially at Dinosaur Caves Park. Pumpkins in the Park (October 28) is a family-friendly event with a number of Halloween activities including pumpkin decorating, costume contests and bounce houses.