The Best Museums To Visit In Paso Robles
July 9, 2019
Paso Robles is home not only to outstanding wineries, sprawling vineyards, delicious restaurants, and breathtaking views but also several interesting and well-known museums. Paso has a deep and proud history to be explored. Discover local heritage in and near Paso including the Pioneer Museum, Mission San Miguel, and the world-famous Hearst Castle.
In Paso Robles
The historic Carnegie Library is the official home of El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society and located in the heart of the Downtown Paso. Explore the collections of archived photographs, objects, papers of historical interest, and library materials related to the Paso Robles area and its citizens. The main floor of the Carnegie Library showcases the society’s collections through exhibits and displays which celebrate the area’s unique history. Docents are on duty to greet visitors, answer their questions and share their knowledge of the area. A gift shop is located on the main floor and features an interesting mix of vintage and new items, books on local history and children’s educational toys and books.
Local Tip: Statue Selfie! Snap a pic with famous resident Ignacy Jan Paderewski – virtuoso pianist, composer, international politician, local landowner, grower, and winemaker.
Estrella Warbirds Museum
The Estrella Warbird Museum is an aviation museum dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles, and memorabilia. “U.S. Picks Estrella For Base – 1200 Acre Tract To Be Site For Marine Corps Air Field”, so read a headline in the 27 August 1942, Paso Robles Press when the government negotiated proceedings to acquire 1,249 acres of land in the Estrella area, some six miles northeast of the city, for a planned US Army airfield. The museum is located at Paso Robles Municipal Airport and is named after Estrella Army Airfield. In 2009 the museum opened an automobile display featuring classic racing cars, The Woodland Auto Display.
Local Tip: Eagle Flight Simulator. This unique opportunity allows any pilot, or wanna-be pilot, to fly while sitting in the real cockpit of an F/A-18 “Hornet” naval fighter.
The Paso Robles Pioneer Museum is a wonderful collection of visual and written history. It shows life in our small California town during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum preserves and displays interesting cultural, agricultural, commercial, and other artifacts to educate and showcase what has made Paso Robles a destination throughout its history. A trip around the grounds takes you back in time. Walk past the jail and farm equipment to the one-room schoolhouse, discover items from local farmers and ranchers, mining carts, and more.
Local Tip: Pioneer Day! Experience Paso’s greatest celebration complete with a parade, bean feed, and party in the iconic downtown city park the second Saturday of October.
Children’s Museum at the Paso Robles Volunteer Firehouse
The Paso Robles Children’s Museum engages children in a joyful learn-through-play environment to inspire educational curiosity while honoring the heritage of our volunteer firefighters. Fun interactive exhibits include the giant oak tree, magnetic ball wall, grape stomp, Newton’s playhouse, theater dress-up, fire station, El Marcado market, firehouse pizza kitchen, toddler farm, toolbox piano, crafting, outside play area, and so much more for your little ones.
Local Tip: Grape Stomp. Have your kiddos jump in the big ball pit that simulates crushing grapes to make “juice,” paying homage to the many vineyards here in Paso Robles.
Near Paso Robles
Atascadero City Hall
Atascadero can trace its beginning to a Mexican land grant when in 1845 Governor Pio Pico granted Pedro Estrada almost 40,000 acres of the Asuncion Rancho, a good portion of which eventually made up part of the smaller 23,000-acre Atascadero Rancho. The Rancho came to be owned by J.H. Henry of San Jose after California became the 31st state of the Union. In 1913 publisher Edward Gardner Lewis left University City, Missouri and came west to begin what was to be a model community. He eventually recorded what was the largest single subdivision map in San Luis Obispo County. Using his printing presses still in Missouri, Lewis began to tell the world about his new community on the Central Coast of California. Discover the history of Atascadero by booking a special docent tour of the totally Historic City Hall Building.
Local Tip: Olive Oil. While in Atascadero take the short drive to The Groves on 41. Taste their award-winning olive oil and take a farm tour.
Camp Roberts Historical Museum
The Camp Roberts Historical Museum is the largest Army museum in California and is located on Camp Roberts just 12 miles north of Paso Robles. The Museum is the repository for the entire history of one of America’s largest and most historic Army. The Museum has many interesting exhibits in both of its exhibit buildings – the Main Museum and the Museum Annex and has historic vehicles, both tracked and wheeled, on display. The topics of its exhibits range from the early ranches and the Salinas Indians through World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, to present-day mobilizations to the Middle East.
Local Tip: FREE. Admission is always free to all!
Cambria’s history reflects the fascinating story of the American West. The village of Cambria took shape in the 1860s on the Santa Rosa Rancho of Don Julian Estrada. The Estrada adobe ranch is full of tales about the lives of cowboys, miners, merchants, and more. Tour the restored Guthrie-Bianchini House as Cambria’s museum of history, learn from exhibits and relax in the lush garden.
Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865 when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland. In 1919, William Randolph Hearst inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada – Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” By 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created Hearst Castle: 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways – all built to house Hearst’s specifications and to showcase his legendary art collection. Hearst Castle is a museum like no other, a must-visit!
Local Tip: Wine Tasting. Visit the coastal tasting room of Hearst Ranch Winery inside the Historic Sebastian’s Store, down the hill from Hearst Castle on the San Simeon Bay.
Old Mission San Miguel
Mission San Miguel Arcangel was founded on July 25, 1797, by Father Fermin Lasuen, Presidente of the California Missions Chain. It is a National Historic Landmark. Named for Saint Michael the Arcangel, it was the 16th mission founded in the 21-mission chain in Alta California. Mission San Miguel’s appearance is much the same as it was when founded. The inside of the mission has never been repainted. The pictures and the colors you see are the originals that were created and painted by Indian artisans under the direction of Esteban Munras. Today it is still a parish church.
Local Tip: Gardens & Graves. The mission garden is planted to many cacti and eucalyptus, and the cemetery is said to be the final resting place of many notable pioneers of our region, including Billy the Kid’s father.
The century-old inn and stage stop is located on the old mission trail between San Francisco and Los Angeles and is found 8 miles north of Paso Robles and adjacent to the San Miguel Mission. Preserved buildings, beautifully landscaped grounds, picnic sites, a gift shop, and restrooms are found at the adobe.
Local Tip: Pleasant Valley Wine Trail. Head east and wine taste through the San Miguel and Estrella Districts.
Templeton Historical Museum
The Horstman house, built in the 1920s by Albert Horstman, a prominent Templeton businessman, was donated to the Templeton Historical Museum Society and it serves as the museum where local memorabilia and photographs are displayed. Templeton’s original railroad warehouse (behind the house) contains a 1925 Model T in original condition, an antique carriage, and other large items.
Local Tip: 15c. Walk across the street to 15 Degrees C Wine Shop & Bar to grab a bite off the seasonal menu and relax on the patio, or at the bar. With an awesome wine, beer, and cider list this is a favorite hangout for winemakers and locals.