The Holiday Experience
With elements like dazzling fireworks, winery costume balls, twinkling Christmas trees and candlelight caroling, holidays in Paso Robles feel extra charming and special. Foothills and vineyards set the backdrop for classic traditions here, and many celebrations feature world-class food and wine. You’ll also find iconic, small-town festivities like Pioneer Day, a long-standing October event with a parade and family-friendly activities.
Paso hosts several other annual events and festivals well worth a visit, even when it’s not the holiday season. Showcasing food, wine, art, history, music and more, these spirited community experiences spotlight introduce the hidden gems of this sunny stretch of central California.
Here’s your guide to holiday celebrations and traditions in Paso Robles.
Those who have served are honored at several Paso Robles Veterans Day commemorations. The Estrella Warbirds Museum welcomes veterans for free on November 11, and the venue sometimes serves free hamburgers or hot dogs for vets, as well. Military vehicles, memorabilia and restored planes take center stage at the museum, which also displays arms, amphibious vehicles and vintage radio equipment. At the Paso Robles District Cemetery, an avenue of flags and related displays set the scene for a ceremony with guest speakers, refreshments and a tribute flyover.
- Annual Downtown Lighting Ceremony — Paso Robles Christmas lights start sparkling in late November, when the annual downtown lighting ceremony takes place at Downtown City Park. Following greetings from city officials, featured guests like Mrs. Claus, the elves, and the Snow King and Queen mingle with attendees of all ages. The Grinch sometimes makes a special appearance, as well, and there’s candlelight caroling along with other musical performances.
- Annual Christmas Lights Parade — In early December, downtown Paso Robles hosts an annual Christmas parade. Expect floats, classic cars, featured guests and other surprises along the parade route, which starts at Spring and 10th St., travels north to 14th, turns right on Park, and continues to 12th. From there, the festivities turn left on 12th and loop around Downtown City Park. You’ll find the best parade views in the park. From there, you can also view the Christmas lights Paso Robles businesses display around the park perimeter.
- Annual Vine Street Victorian Showcase — For more than three decades, residents have decked out their homes during the Annual Vine Street Victorian Showcase. Stroll or cruise down this downtown avenue to see lights and garland adorning nearly every home, and look for live entertainment on various corners. While the specifics vary each year, past celebrations have featured carolers and appearances by guests like Santa and Mrs. Claus, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Snow Queen.
New Year’s Eve
The Paso Robles New Year’s Eve celebration brings festive residents to Downtown City Park. Enjoy a host of activities before the midnight countdown begins, including live bands and DJs providing musical entertainment throughout the evening. Marvel at fire dancers and special performers that swing by. Sample dishes and drinks served by local vendors. Chat with locals and visitors around a cozy, crackling bonfire set up in the park, as you get ready to ring in the year ahead.
Several California missions hold mass on Easter Sunday, and two missions are within a short, scenic drive of Paso Robles. Mission San Miguel, 10 miles north of downtown, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Established in 1797, it features original interior frescos by local Salinan artists and a lovely courtyard fountain. Masses take place in English and Spanish. Mission San Antonio de Padua is about 50 miles northeast of Paso, and well worth the drive. Padre Serra’s third church on the California mission trail moved to its current site in 1773, and its pretty, peaceful adobe buildings were built shortly after the 1906 earthquake.
Following morning mass, plan some treats for the whole family. Hop To It events bring the Easter Bunny to Downtown City Park, where little ones can say hello, snap photos and play in the spring sunshine. Several blocks south of the park, Twisted and Glazed smothers gourmet donuts in pastel frosting and sprinkles. Some downtown restaurants serve Easter brunch menus, as do many Paso-area wineries. Locals like Tooth & Nail Winery and the restaurant at Allegretto Vineyard Resort, in particular. Individual winery brunches require advanced reservations.
St. Patrick’s Day
Pappy McGregor's hosts a big St Patrick’s Day bash each year, and it all kicks off when the doors open at 6 a.m. Expect limited-edition holiday swag and unique treats like free Irish-themed donuts. The kitchen often cranks out discounted breakfast burritos, too, followed by a special menu served from 11 a.m. to midnight. Drinks flow and the party continues well after dark at this dog-friendly pub located across from Downtown City Park.
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, a great season for exploring Paso Robles. The Ravine Waterparktypically opens over Memorial Day weekend, kicking off that time of year when families zoom down towering slides and splash in tranquil pools. Downtown City Park is another popular summer playground, and the surrounding shops, tasting rooms, restaurants and bars roll out the red carpet for visitors. For more summer sunshine, plan a journey along the region’s well-established wine trails. Each offers a distinct, only-in-Paso tasting experience.
Whether you’re planning an action-packed family weekend or treating Dad to some quiet time, Paso promises plenty of fun Father’s Day options. Ten golf courses are within a 30-minute drive of downtown, so players can choose from classic fairway challenges, links-style landscapes, greens overlooking vineyards and short-course alternatives. Golf reservations are always recommended on Father’s Day weekend. Wineries also welcome dads, as do local breweries and distilleries. Visit Tin City to find several clustered in a convenient location. For more adventures, join players for a pickleball game at Centennial Park, feast on local steaks or barbecue, or grab a pint at a downtown sports bar.
The Paso Robles 4th of July Celebration at Barney Schwartz Park is among the city’s most treasured annual traditions. Kicking off in the afternoon, the festivities include an extensive Family Fun Zone with all-ages activities, plus food trucks and live music by several area bands. Local radio stations often broadcast from the patriotic party, and the daytime celebration leads up to grand finale fireworks around 9 p.m. Special amenities include RV parking options for guests and a VIP pavilion for local sponsors. Looking for something more low key? Plan a weekend camping trip at Lake Nacimiento or Lake San Antonio, each a short drive from Paso.
Paso Robles is known for diverse live music venues that include warehouse patios, downtown clubs and expansive amphitheaters surrounded by vineyards. Many local wineries host live performances over the sun-splashed Labor Day weekend, so you can enjoy music paired with wines, food truck treats and unforgettable views.
- Paso Robles Pioneer Day — Locals launched Paso Robles Pioneer Day in 1931, and this mainstay held the second Saturday of each October has become one of the best, most beloved community experiences in town. Organizers established the city-wide party to connect neighbors and thank locals for supporting local shops. Today, that sentiment continues with a free bean feed, a grand parade and plenty of family-friendly activities. If you’re a clean-shaven individual, help support Pioneer Day events by purchasing a "Smooth Puss" badge for just $1. The tradition dates to the event’s early days, when a "hoosegow" jail cart picked up clean-shaven men caught watching the parade without a badge. Once in the wagon, offenders were hauled to Downtown City Park and dunked in a horse trough.
- Pine Street Saloon — Pioneer Day festivities are especially lively at the Pine Street Saloon, a watering hole housed in one of downtown Paso’s oldest buildings. Parade participants often ride their horses right into the bar, where they might be greeted by costumed cowboys or dancers outfitted in feathers, fishnets and sparkly dresses. It’s a spirited scene, and a great place to meet locals over a pint or two.
BarrelHouse Brewing hosts playful Oktoberfest festivities in its outdoor amphitheater late each September. The team fills steins with fresh fest beer, of course, and you’ll find lively music, hearty snacks, games and free entrance for kids when they accompany a ticketed adult. Optional festival ticket packages include upgrades for larger glass, ceramic and traditional boot steins.
- Nightmare from Main St. — Historic downtown Paso Robles has plenty of reported ghosts and haunted sites, and that makes Halloween an ideal time to explore. For an even scarier experience, plan a Nightmare from Main St. visit. This supremely spooky haunted house has set up in various Paso locations for more than a dozen years, and the optional total darkness tour promises a truly terrifying time. Past reviewers have rated it one of California's scariest haunted houses and "hands down one of the most frightening haunts we have ever seen."
- Safe & Fun Downtown Halloween — The Paso Robles Halloween schedule also features trick-or-treating in the downtown neighborhood. Paso merchants welcome little ghosts and goblins from 3 to 6 p.m. on October 31, when many retailers hand out goodies to children in costume. Watch for witches who join in on the celebration, too, and offer to take photos with families enjoying the festivities.
- Halloween Party at Pine Street Saloon — Pine Street Saloon occupies one of the oldest structures in downtown Paso Robles, and it's a building known for spooky noises and suspicious activity. The Discovery+ show "Ghost Adventures" did an episode here. So did the Travel Channel's "Dead Files." The saloon gets into the spirit with a Halloween party, a popular annual favorite featuring a costume contest and live music.
- Tooth & Nail Events — Tooth & Nail Winery's stone castle feels more like a haunted mansion around Halloween, when the team hosts several seasonal events. Witches and warlocks look forward to the annual Haunted House of Wine, a spirited costume ball for ages 21 and up. There's music and dancing throughout the evening, plus a costume contest and food and wine for purchase. Tooth & Nail also hosts a Murder Mystery Dinner that draws a well-dressed crowd clad in Venetian masks, formal gowns, capes, sequins and more. The killer evening includes a three-course, pre-set meal paired with wines and a playful side of crime – including immersive activities and opportunities to solve a puzzling mystery.
- Wineries of 46 East Taste or Treat Halloween Poker Run — As many as 16 producers from the 46 East Wine Trail team up for the Taste or Treat Halloween Poker Run. After receiving a passport and commemorative wine glass, you'll stroll to various stations to taste wine paired with Halloween candy. Each stop also distributes playing cards to build your best poker hand, and there are prizes for cards as well as costumes. Expect live music and free light snacks, plus food truck fare available for purchase.
- 46 West Hallowine Block Party — About 20 brands from the 46 West Wine Trail host the festive Harvest Heroes and Villains Block Party at Barton Family Estate. A DJ spins tunes under the full moon, as partygoers sample wines and snack on dishes sold by local vendors. The evening event also features prizes for the best-dressed heroes and villains.
Thanksgiving Dining Experiences
Paso Robles Thanksgiving celebrations range from winery festivities to dining experiences at some of the city’s treasured restaurants. The Steakhouse at the Paso Robles Inn puts a flavorful spin on Thanksgiving lunch and dinner, with options like sage-rubbed turkey breast, pumpkin ravioli, eggplant parmesan and slow-roast prime rib. Friendsgiving at Cass Winery takes place before the holiday. Guests gather around the table to enjoy a chef-prepared Thanksgiving feast with wine pairings and sparkling conversation. Plenty of other Paso Robles venues welcome diners for Thanksgiving, too. See the full list of what’s open.