With the holidays already upon us, it seems like life is speeding up faster than ever. With retailers, family, friends and businesses associates pinging us every minute on holiday preparations, it’s easy to get burned out.
San Luis Obispo County, an extraordinarily beautiful destination on California’s Central Coast, is the best cure for holiday hysteria. Surrounded by soul-stirring beaches and trails, charming fishing villages, hillsides painted with grapevines and forests, and artsy coastal and college towns, SLO County invites you – and your loved ones (if you’re still talking to them) to come over for some pure play.
If you need a last-minute escape with your soul mate, B.F.F. or loved one — SLO County’s accommodations have you covered. Book the “Holiday Remedy” at the rustically luxurious Apple Farm Inn , a stone’s throw from farmer’s markets and wine country. Starting at $239 plus tax, enjoy a one-night stay with two 55-minute Pomegranate and Jojoba Oil Massages, wine reception and a $50 dining credit at Apple Farm Restaurant, featuring home style food, fresh pastries, and pies. Get started on last-minute stocking stuffers or Hanukkah gifts with a $25 shopping credit at the gift shop, the largest retailer of gifts and housewares in San Luis Obispo, including signature food items such as farm-fresh apple butter and their famous homemade boysenberry spread (good Nov. 27-Jan. 3, restrictions may apply).
Looking for a room that expresses your unique personality? Check out the historically fabulous Madonna Inn, which boasts well over 100 themed rooms, such as American Beauty, Cayucos Queen, Country Gentleman, Golfer’s Room, Gypsy Rock, Lovebirds and Sugar & Spice. Their “Winter Family Escape” starts at $275 and includes a one-night stay for four, $50 voucher for breakfast at the Copper Cafe, and an assortment of festive candy canes. It also includes four tickets to go ice-skating at their rink, San Luis Obispo’s first ice skating rink open for 17 days at the Alex Madonna Expo Center (good Dec. 21 – Jan. 6 and subject to restrictions).
Looking to pamper yourself with a little coastal luxury? Check out the “Christmas Market” package at the Cambria Pines Lodge , starting at $179 for a two-night plus two commemorative Christmas Market mugs with one serving of Gluhwein (European hot spiced wine), $10 certificate for CPL’s food booth, buffet breakfast, two dinner entrees and a bottle of wine (good Nov. 24 – Dec. 23 and restrictions may apply). Check out other great coastal getaways at The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach and El Colibri Boutique Hotel & Spa on Moonstone Beach in Cambria.
Visit over the holidays and you’ll know why the region is known as the Happiest Place in America . From Turkey Trots and Very Merry Lighthouse Tours to Ugly Sweater Parties and holiday festivals, concerts and parades, San Luis Obispo County is truly the place for old-fashioned holiday cheer and quirky fun. Perhaps the most enchanting place is Hearst Castle, when you can step back into the 1930s and experience Christmas at the Castle like a guest of William Randolph Hearst, featuring elaborate decorations throughout the castle, with two majestic 18-foot Christmas trees holding court in the Assembly Room.
One of the most delicious things about SLO County is its abundance of farms, ranches and renowned wineries, giving diners a deep connection to the food. Savor mulled wine and other special offers such as Black Friday shopping at local wineries. Let them do the cooking and just show up for one of our SLO-food holiday pre-fixe dinners — from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Check out the detailed 2012 SLO County Holiday Guide on the SLO County Visitors and Conference Bureau website , where you can also find information on everything from outdoor recreation and agritourism, to wine country, local arts and heritage.