Things to Do Outdoors in Paso
Sunny skies and scenic landscapes set the backdrop for unforgettable outdoor activities in Paso Robles. This stretch of California is a popular destination for people who love fresh air and adventure, whether that means strolling around Downtown City Park, exploring the region’s vineyards, splashing in local lakes or taking a bike tour.
When you’re ready to shake off some stress and make new memories, Paso is the place. Here’s your guide to Paso Robles outdoor activities for every interest and lifestyle.
- Water Fun
- Horseback Riding
- Spanish Missions
- Paso by Air
- Golfing in Paso
- Bike Tours
- Sensorio Paso
- More Experiences
Paso Robles has more than a dozen city parks and trails to explore, plus picturesque walking paths that wind along area lakes. Start your adventure with these standouts.
Salinas River Parkway Trail
Easily accessible from downtown Paso Robles, this 1.6-mile paved trail winds along the Salinas River. Pretty plants and plots of grass line the riverbed pathway, bringing a slice of nature to the city. It also links up with Larry Moore Park, which has playground equipment and picnic tables. The Salinas River Walk is a great option for families with strollers, individuals with wheelchairs, and travelers interested in a low-key outdoor experience.
Barney Schwartz Park Loop
Families love this 40-acre park that’s got something for everyone: two expansive playgrounds, baseball and softball diamonds, soccer fields, concession stands, picnic areas and a million-gallon lake stocked with fish. You can run remote control boats on the water, or simply watch splashing ducks and turtles. A paved, .8-mile loop circles the lake and runs throughout Barney Schwartz Park, which is located not far from another Paso Robles gem – Ravine Waterpark.
Lake Nacimiento Shoreline Trail
Lake Nacimiento is about 20 miles northwest of downtown Paso Robles. With winding waterways and tributaries, this dragon-shaped lake covers 5,000 surface acres and 165 shoreline miles. You’ll find lots of hiking routes, including the classic Lake Nacimiento Shoreline Trail. This 5.9-mile out-and-back is a moderately challenging trek that averages about 2.5 hours to complete, and it’s a quiet place for hiking, birdwatching and walking with on-leash pups.
Lake San Antonio Lake View Trail
About 35 northwest of Paso Robles is another favorite for lake lovers. Lake San Antonio is a great place for boating, birding, fishing and wildlife watching, with habitats that support elk, bobcats, deer and a bevy of birds. Plan about 2.25 hours to explore the 5.4-mile Lake San Antonio Lake View Trail, a loop where you might spot red-tailed hawks, grebes or bald eagles.
Ravine Water Park
Of all the outdoor activities Paso Robles has to offer, few are more beloved by families than Ravine Water Park. Open since 2007, this thrilling playground regularly updates its slides and rides so there’s always something exciting – whether you’re a first-time visitor or a season passholder. Expect a lazy river, spacious wave pool, splash pads for toddlers, and slides that promise serious speed and splash-filled fun for all. You can also rent cabanas or cool off with concessions from the Tiki Bar and Grill and food booths located around the park.
The Sidewinder is one of Ravine Waterpark’s newest rides, and it takes guests on a twisting, turning, high-speed journey through an enclosed tube. Up to four family members can race in separate lanes on the Quadzilla, a five-story slide that covers 300 fast-moving feet before ending in a pool. The Tadpool caters to little swimmers, with zero-depth entry and plenty of toddler-friendly play structures.
Head out to Lake Nacimiento for peaceful coves, pretty waterways and beachfront galore. This expansive, man-made lake on the Nacimiento River stays clean and warm year-round, with water temps ranging from about 72 to 80 degrees. The Lake Nacimiento Marina offers rental options ranging from paddleboards and kayaks to pleasure boats, water skis, and all the life vests and gear you’ll need for a day on the water.
Pontoons (also known as patio boats) are a great choice for groups. You’ll find half- and full-day pontoon rentals with boats that hold 8 to 12 people. Consider renting some fishing poles and casting for carp, bluegill or white bass. Or, simply schedule a serene floating picnic with friends and family.
Franklin Hot Springs
Trade the upscale spa day for a peaceful back-to-nature experience at Franklin Hot Springs. Workers discovered these springs in 1952, and a local farmer spent 10 years digging lakes and streams to channel the waters. Today, his family still runs the pools and surrounding wildlife reserve. There are no chemical additives here – just natural mineral water that flows from the ground at about 100.1ºF. Pools are rich with calcium, magnesium, potassium and other beneficial minerals.
Families looking for things to do outdoors in Paso Robles will enjoy this affordable, one-of-a-kind activity. A day pass includes access to the hot springs, along with swimming, boating, and license-free fishing options.
Central Coast Trailrides
A team led by the Hallett family operates Central Coast Trailrides, offering guided tours across Paso Robles wine country. At Cass Vineyard, the company's trail rides showcase panoramic views of dry creek beds, old-growth oak trees and hillsides covered with grapevines. Packages include credits for Cass Winery releases, and you can choose between routes that welcome novice riders (including children) or those more experienced on horseback.
Harris Stage Lines
Explore the region and experience late-1800s Paso Robles on an authentic horse-drawn vehicle. Harris Stage Lines welcomes guests to watch as crews hitch horses to the stagecoach, and then they depart on tours that travel through rural landscapes along the Salinas River. Don’t miss the livery stable, home to Belgian draft horses and other breeds, or the company’s collection of unique horse-drawn coaches.
Work Family Guest Ranch
The Work family brings Western heritage to life at this 12,000-acre cattle ranch established in the 1880s. Discover magnificent Cholame Hills landscapes on horseback, climbing grassy peaks and winding through oak woodlands about 20 miles northeast of Paso Robles. You can bring your own horse or pair with one of the Work Family Guest Ranch’s resident horses. Tours are open to guests as young as eight years old. For an extra-special experience, book the evening sunset ride that’s available from June through September.
Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio
Two sprawling lakes a stone's throw from Paso Robles promise great fishing opportunities for all skill levels. Lake Nacimiento is the only California lake stocked with white bass, a freshwater fish typically found in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. Plenty of other species also swim here and in the waters of nearby Lake San Antonio, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. Marinas at both reservoirs rent fishing gear, and each destination is surrounded by trails and shoreline recreation. During the busy summer travel season, consider during the week for a quieter experience.
The Lake at Barney Schwartz Park
The lake at Barney Schwartz Park is an ideal spot for family fishing trips, since it’s small and easy to access. The California Department of Wildlife stocks this million-gallon body of water with trout from January through April, and the surrounding 40-acre park has playground equipment, snack stands and picnic areas. If youngsters lose interest while waiting for a bite, there are cute ducks and turtles to watch. And, if they grow to love fishing, you can swing back by the park for the annual children's fishing derby.
Jim's Pro Bass Tackle
Jim's Pro Bass Tackle in Paso Robles is your one-stop shop for fishing gear. The friendly local store has an array of rods, reels, tackle (including a storied saltwater selection), frozen bait, live worms, boat accessories and other items. The team here is a great source for local fishing information, as well.
Two of California’s historic missions are an easy drive from Paso Robles, and each provides a unique look at the region’s heritage.
Mission San Miguel
Take Highway 101 about 10 miles north from downtown Paso Robles to reach Mission San Miguel. Set in the tiny community of San Miguel, it was the 16th of 21 missions founded in Alta California. Franciscan friars established the mission in 1797 with a temporary church, and the first blocks of the current adobe structure were laid in 1816. Artist Esteban Munras designed the interior frescos. Those untouched original paintings still grace the church’s interior.
Mission San Miguel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 2006, it earned National Historic Landmark designation from the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior. It was also named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 most endangered places. Today, Mission San Miguel maintains a regular schedule of masses in English and Spanish.
Mission San Antonio De Padua
Mission San Antonio de Padua is located about 50 miles north of Paso Robles, on 86 acres adjacent to Fort Hunter Liggett. Padre Junipero Serra established this mission in 1771, hanging bells on the branches of an oak tree to mark the site of the third church on California's mission trail. Mission San Antonio moved to its permanent site in 1773, and the adobe buildings were rebuilt after a 1906 earthquake.
The mission holds weekly mass and annual heritage events like garden gatherings, Mission Days and Las Posadas. Call ahead to schedule a docent-led tour of the grounds. A visit to Mission San Antonio pairs well with a trip to Lake San Antonio, too.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Float above treetops and vineyards while marveling at the sunrise, all from the basket of a hot air balloon. Balloons Over Paso offers seasonal flights from mid-April through mid-November (weather permitting), taking couples and small groups to the skies for the ultimate Paso Robles wine country experience. Tours include about one hour of flight time, the chance to watch crews inflate the balloon, and a champagne toast with breakfast treats back on the ground.
Helicopter Wine Tours
Soar above California's scenic central coast, snapping photos of vineyards, ranches and Pacific Ocean waves. Paso Air Tours takes groups of four to five passengers on spectacular helicopter tours, with packages that bundle sightseeing, wine tasting and personalized service. Options include the Wine & Waves tour, which travels above Hearst Castle and Morro Rock, a three-hour tasting experience that lands at two or three wineries, and custom tours tailored to your interests.
Hunter Ranch Golf Course
Golf is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Paso Robles, and Hunter Ranch Golf Course is star on the scene. Set on one of Paso’s highest points, this 18-hole championship course has commanding views of vineyards and hills. Native grasses, natural lakes and blue oak trees set a picturesque backdrop for play. Guests enjoy access to a 3-hole, par-3 practice course, along with chipping and putting greens, all-grass hitting stations and other amenities. An Australian outback-style clubhouse holds the pro shop and Hunter Ranch Bar & Grill. The 6,744-yard, par-72 course has a course rating of 72.7 and a slope rating of 138.
Paso Robles Golf Club
Paso Robles Golf Club is former private club that’s been renovated and reintroduced to the public. It has since become a premier golf destination in Paso. Palm trees, Bermuda grass and 14 water hazards make this a challenging course that’s as fun to explore as it is to play. In the clubhouse, Deeds Bar & Grill overlooks the 9th and 18th holes. The dynamic venue is a great place to grab breakfast, get dinner after a round, or meet up for beers and sports on several big-screen televisions. Overall, the updated par-70 course covers 6,157 yards, with a course rating of 70 and a slope rating of 120.
Other Paso Robles Golf Courses
With more than 286 sunny days a year and temperatures averaging around 76ºF, Paso Robles is a true golfer’s paradise. Ten courses are tucked within a 30-minute drive of downtown, and you’ll find options ranging from a six-hole player development course to challenging championship layouts surrounded by vineyards. Off the fairways, Paso’s resorts, restaurants, wineries and activities please every type of traveler.
See why the Today Show called Paso a top summer travel destination, and why Travel + Leisure named the community one of the 10 best places to retire in the United States. Plan an extended stay and book some tee times at the top golf courses in Paso Robles.
Paso Robles Bike Tour Co.
Paso Robles Bike Tour Co. turns the spotlight on downtown Paso Robles and the surrounding wine country. Your electric bike tour starts in downtown Paso, where you’ll learn about the region’s history and architecture at places like the Carnegie library, the Acorn Clock Tower, and the Victorian district. From there, travel to a local winery for sightseeing and tastings. After about an hour and a half of guided touring, you’re free to choose your own e-bike adventure until 5 p.m. The company suggests backroads routes and tasting rooms to sample, and the tour price includes use of a helmet, saddle bags and accessories.
VineCycle E-Bike Tours
Immerse yourself in the Paso Robles outdoors on a vineyard adventure with VineCycle E-Bike Tours. Cycling instructors lead the two-hour experiences that start with a trip through local vineyards. You’ll stop at a winery (the company’s JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery tour is especially popular) for tastings and talk about the property’s history, terroir and winemaking practices. Novice e-bike riders, take note: Tours start with a bike and helmet fitting, plus an overview of operations and safety, so you’ll be ready to enjoy a comfortable journey.
Art takes an exciting twist at Sensorio, where vast, solar-powered light installations by British artist Bruce Munro dance to music. Field of Light brings some 100,000 stemmed spheres to an expanse of gentle hills. Lit by fiber optics, these flower-like orbs transform the landscape with subtle, shifting, captivating color. Sensorio’s latest addition, Light Towers, honors more than 300 Paso Robles wineries with a unique walk-through experience. Approximately 17,000 wine bottles illuminated in various hues anchor the display, and they’re arranged in a maze of glowing, seven-foot towers that move with musical notes.
Sensorio is typically open Thursday through Saturday evenings, with extended hours from July through December 2023. Check the venue’s website for dates and details. An on-site Airstream bar sells local wine and beer, along with spirits and non-alcoholic options. Food trucks and culinary operators also dish up snacks, entrees and desserts on the exhibit grounds. Reserve the special terrace experience for private seating with elevated exhibit views, drink credits, and other amenities.
Scavenger Hunt Walking Tours
Families, couples, corporate groups and fun-loving travelers will find few better ways to explore than with Paso Robles Scavenger Hunt Walking Tours. Teams are challenged to solve 16 playful puzzles while discovering downtown highlights like the Paso Robles Clock tower and Acorn Building, the landmark Paso Robles Inn, Downtown City Park, and lots of murals and public art exhibits. The self-guided adventure typically takes 60 to 90 minutes and includes about a mile of walking. The experience is tailored to teams of two to six people.
Vina Robles Amphitheatre
Vina Robles Vineyards and Winery is home to exceptional wines and an exclusive outdoor entertainment venue. The Vina Robles Amphitheatre hosts top musical acts, comedians and other stars as part of an annual concert series that typically extends from April through November. This scenic locale offers VIP and general admission lawn seating in an intimate setting, with every seat located no more than 150 feet from the stage. Concessionaires serve up bistro bites, local beers, sangria and Vina Robles estate wines.
Zipline at Margarita Adventures
For an action-packed Paso Robles side trip, head south for the Margarita Adventures zipline tour. This exhilarating wine country activity is a family-friendly favorite unlike any other. You'll find six zipline options spanning more than 7,500 combined feet, from a 2,800-foot tandem-line adventure to an 1,800-foot glide above pinot noir vines. Over the course of about 2.5 hours, you'll soar above vineyards, valleys, oak stands and hilltops while learning about the local wine industry, wildlife and other area highlights.