A California Road Trip: Pit Stops from LA to Paso Robles

A california road trip down Route 101

Dive into the essential guide for maximizing your journey from the vibrant city of Los Angeles to picturesque Paso Robles. Roaming along California’s sun-soaked highways promises a distinctive adventure complete with varied landscapes, hidden treasures, and, of course, the delight of pit stops.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time road tripper, this all-encompassing manual is crafted to elevate your experience by spotlighting must-see attractions, delectable eateries, and awe-inspiring viewpoints. Fasten your seatbelts as we navigate through the ideal pit stops, transforming your California road trip into an indelible exploration of the Golden State.

View of San Joaquin Valley, the quickest route from LA to Paso Robles

What is the quickest route from LA to Paso Robles?

If you’re looking for the fastest route to travel to Paso Robles by car, you can go over the grapevine to Interstate 5 and exit at State Route 46. From LAX this is about 220 miles and the drive will take you typically between 3.5 – 5.5 hours, depending on traffic. It’s a relatively easy, though slightly boring drive. 

Also, in the winter or rainy months, you’ll want to check for road closures or other issues on the Grapevine (this is the portion of I-5 between Santa Clarita and the San Joaquin Valley over Tejon Pass, formerly known as “The Ridge Route”). 

It is an important corridor in California, however the route can be quite treacherous in winter due to both rain and snow. Mudslides, rockfalls, and ice can all have an impact on your trip, so be sure to check current road conditions before setting off on your trip.

Is there a scenic drive from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo?

Absolutely! The scenic drive from LA to San Luis Obispo is the perfect California road trip and it will take you only about 15-30 minutes longer to get to Paso Robles. On your drive from Los Angeles to Paso Robles via US Route 101 you’ll pass some of the most beautiful places to visit in California.

Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach, a must stop on your way from LA to Paso Robles

Where to stop on the drive from LA to Paso Robles?

  • Santa Barbara
  • Solvang
  • Los Olivos
  • Los Alamos
  • Pismo Beach


Santa Barbara

Just north of Ventura you’ll drive right along the beaches and the Pacific Ocean and we highly recommend making a pit stop in Santa Barbara. Often dubbed as The American Riviera, Santa Barbara was the first city in the US to adopt a city ordinance to establish mandatory municipal architectural control.  After an earthquake in 1925 much of downtown was destroyed or heavily damaged and was rebuilt in Spanish Colonial style.

Santa Barbara is a great city to park your car and explore by foot. The Funk Zone is a vibrant area to visit for food, drinks and people-watching. 

Grab a bite to eat at The Lark, coffee at Dart Coffee Co, beer at Validation Ale, bubbles or wine at Riverbench Vineyard or cocktails at Test Pilot, to name a few. This industrial area, once the birthplace of The Lockheed Corporation, is now one of the hippest parts of town.

Stroll up State Street (now car free) to enjoy browsing the shops, restaurants, architecture and more then visit the presidio in Santa Barbara, which contains the second oldest surviving building in California, El Cuartel. 

Afterwards make your way to the Santa Barbara Superior Court and take the elevator to the top of the clock tower for sweeping views of the city, the ocean and the surrounding mountains. Descend down the ornate stairs and pop into the Mural Room to view depictions of Santa Barbara’s rich past and roots in Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, and immigrant cultures.

The village of Solvang, a California road trip stop


A must visit on your California road trip is Solvang, a traditional Danish village known for Aebleskiver pastries and the old-world architecture. From Santa Barbara, you could either go over the mountain and take State Route 154 and see lake Cachuma or follow US Route 101 along the coast, both are beautiful.

Once there, stroll through downtown, take photos of windmills, enjoy some boutique shopping, enjoy a pastry or, visit the Old Mission Santa Ines. You may even recognize some locations from the movie Sideways. 

Los Olivos 

Near Solvang, Los Olivos is a cute little wine town in Santa Barbara wine country that has great restaurants and tasting rooms, such as Carhartt Family Wines

Los Alamos

A little over an hour from Paso Robles is Los Alamos, a funky Old West heritage town founded in 1876. There’s really only one street, Bell Street, which is where you will find all of the antique shops, restaurants and wine tasting rooms. 

We recommend checking out Full of Life Flatbread, Bell’s, Pico Los Alamos or Bob’s Well Bread., depending on what you’re in the mood for. 

Pismo Beach

If you need a break just 45 minutes from Paso Robles, a beautiful spot on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean is Ventana Grill. A great place for lunch or dinner, you can enjoy a delicious Margarita while watching the pelicans and whales in the distance. This is a great spot for sunset.

Amtrak in California

How to get from LA to Paso Robles without a car?

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train  operates direct daily train service from the Amtrak Union Station in Los Angeles (LAX) to the Paso Robles Amtrak station (PRB).. The beautiful journey takes about 6.5 hours and you’ll have amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and even go through Vandenberg Space Force Base where they launch rockets for SpaceX. 

If you fly into LAX and you don’t want to deal with LA Traffic in a rental car, you can take the FlyAway bus from LAX to Union Station, which takes about 30-60 minutes. 

Wine tasting with Toast Tours in Paso Robles

How do I spend a day in Paso Robles?

Paso Robles is one of the top wine tourism destinations in California and a must for wine lovers, boasting over 200 wineries. The best way to spend a day in Paso Robles is by having an expert wine country concierge from Toast Tours plan the perfect custom wine country itinerary for you. 

Each tour is private and can be customized based on your specific preferences and interests, and our team can offer recommendations on where to stay, the best restaurants and more!

On the day of your private wine tour, a knowledgeable guide will pick you up in the morning and take you on an effortless and joy-filled journey through Paso Robles, giving you a better understanding of our terroir and make you feel more connected with our beautiful wine country. Let us know how we can help!

Wrap up your California road trip with a heart full of memories and a camera roll overflowing with stunning scenery. This journey from LA to Paso Robles is more than just a drive; it’s a chance to savor the Golden State’s charm, indulge in culinary delights, and explore hidden gems. So, buckle up, put the playlist on shuffle, and hit the road for an unforgettable California road trip adventure.


Private Wine Tasting Tour Paso Robles

Private Wine Tour

As a boutique tour company with years of experience, we use our knowledge and expertise to create custom tours for your group. We guarantee that we will take the hassle out of planning to give you the best wine tasting experience in Paso Robles.




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