Even though Paso Robles has been regarded as California's hot “new” destination, Paso remains true to its roots and maverick nature. Healthful hot springs, bountiful crops and hard-working cowboys and cowgirls are not just a part of our heritage, but are also an integral part of our community today.
Since day one, Paso Robles has been known as a place to rejuvenate and relax. The native Salinan Indians called the region “the Springs,” and in the 1700s they enlightened Spain's Franciscan padres about the health benefits of the region's abundant thermal waters. The padres, in turn, planted the region's first vineyards and taught the Indians about cattle ranching, farming and winemaking. Indeed, the Mission-era fermentation vats can still be seen at nearby Mission San Miguel.
Town Founders (from left) Daniel Blackburn, James Blackburn and Drury James (uncle to the outlaw Jesse James)
The Bathhouse building still stands at the corner of 11th and Pine and now houses a popular candy shop.
By the mid 1800s, settlers of European descent joined the Native American, Mexican and Spanish residents in farming the region. Meanwhile, tourists came in greater numbers to enjoy “El Paso de Robles Hot and Cold Sulphur Springs and the Only Natural Mud Baths in the World,” which had been developed and advertised by prominent local land owners Daniel D. Blackburn and Drury James (the uncle of the outlaw Jesse James), who envisioned a planned spa community.
By the time the railroad arrived in the late 1880s, Blackburn and James had attracted investors to help establish the beginnings of a town with first-class amenities. They saw to the city’s incorporation in 1889; designed the town’s City Park (then fenced by a hedge of cacti); and, in 1891, built an extensive bathhouse over the sulphur spring as well as the three-story Hotel El Paso de Robles, which is today the Paso Robles Inn.
During this era, Paso Robles also grew to be called “Almond City” as it possessed the world's largest concentration of almond orchards, a title that would stick until the Central Valley gained access to plentiful irrigation.
The 1880s also welcomed the city's first commercial wineries. Andrew York established Ascension Winery at what is now York Mountain Winery. The Nerellis, Dusis, Martinellis, Busis, Vostis and Bianchis are just some of the other families that launched Paso Robles wineries in the early twentieth century.
Still more attention was drawn to the region in the 1920s when Ignacy Paderewski, the famous Polish statesman and concert pianist, purchased 2,000 acres and planted Petite Sirah and Zinfandel on his Rancho San Ignacio Vineyard in the Adelaide area west of Paso Robles. And, with his performances at the Paso Robles Inn, he became a fixture amid the inn's glittering scene, which entertained the likes of Jack Dempsey, President Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope, Clark Gable, and even the Pittsburgh Pirates during their spring training.
The city's population hovered at around 3,000 until the 1940s, when the development of the U.S. Army's nearby Camp Roberts infused new people and development into the area. The famed California Mid-State Fair began in 1946 and continues to be a vibrant part of the community.
Today, Paso Robles is a bustling city of 29,950 residents in the heart of a wine country with more than 200 wineries and more than 26,000 vineyard acres. Hot springs spa treatments are still available at the Paso Robles Inn and River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, and City Park remains the heart of our community.
Pioneer Day was established in 1931 and it still the largest community event of the year.
While Paso Robles is today brimming with new ideas, fresh flavors and progressive tastes, you can always count on us to keep it real.
Hot sulfur springs still flow through Paso Robles and are open to the public in three locations: River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Franklin Hot Springs and in select guest rooms at the Paso Robles Inn.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio spent the first night of their honeymoon at the Clifton motel on the south side of Paso Robles in 1954. They were married in San Francisco and were en route to Palm Springs. While no longer a motel, the building is still on the corner of 1st and Spring streets.
Drury James, the uncle of the outlaw Jesse James, was one of the city’s original architects who built the original Hotel El Paso de Robles. He also gave the town a two-block city park and envisioned a planned spa community, heavily publicizing the area as a hot springs tourist attraction.
Beginning in 1914 and for 25 years thereafter, the piano virtuoso and Polish statesman Ignacy Paderewski visited Paso Robles as a place of respite between his concert tours and other responsibilities. He purchased 2,000 acres and planted Petite Sirah and Zinfandel on his Rancho San Ignacio vineyard in the Adelaide area. With his performances at the Paso Robles Inn, he became a fixture amid a glittering scene, which entertained the likes of Jack Dempsey, President Theodore Roosevelt, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope and Clark Gable.
Once known as the “Almond City,” Paso Robles possessed the world’s largest concentration of almond orchards until the Central Valley gained access to plentiful irrigation.
As the health benefits of olive oil become more well-known, Paso Robles is becoming a mecca for all things olive-related. You can tour an olive processing facility and take your pick of a number of olive oil tasting rooms. And at We Olive's flagship store in downtwon Paso Robles, you can taste samples of dozens of local olive oils in one place.
The California Mid-State Fair draws more than 400,000 attendees annually to the Paso Robles Event Center. Known for showcasing big-name bands and artists such as Aerosmith, Tim McGraw, Rod Stewart, Alan Jackson and Fergie, the fair has been in existence since 1946.
From 1924 to 1934, the Pittsburgh Pirates were headquartered at Hotel El Paso de Robles during their spring training. The ballpark they used in downtown Paso Robles had been previously used by the Chicago White Sox.
The “Templeton Gap,” a notch in the coastal Santa Lucia mountain range, allows marine air to cascade inland and across the Paso Robles wine country—a cooling influence that fosters quality and complexity in the local wines. Temperature swings of 50 degrees within a 24-hour period are not uncommon during the late summer months.