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It’s a balmy summer evening at Atascadero Lake Park and the local band is playing the blues while this closely-knit community wines, dines and dances barefoot together under the shady oaks. The sun slowly sets, the moon begins to rise and its reflection magically illuminates the entire lakeside area.

Also popular for day use, children’s playgrounds, picnic and outdoor barbecue facilities and an indoor pavilion all encourage celebratory gatherings. Popular community-based events including the Atascadero Wine Festival held each June and the holiday boutique and tree lighting ceremonies continuously keep community members intermingled throughout the year.

Next door proudly stands the Charles Paddock Zoo…the only zoo on the Central Coast. Home to a wide variety of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, it exhibits over 100 animals on five park-like acres while strongly focusing its educational efforts on promoting wildlife conservation to children and adults alike. Rich in history, downtown Atascadero proudly honors its heritage each October with the Colony Days Parade. One of downtown’s most impressive buildings is its historic City Hall Rotunda Building, located in the Sunken Gardens Public Park, and designated a California Historical Landmark. Downtown Atascadero’s impressive Carlton Hotel is also of historic significance, built in 1929 and restored in 2005.

Golf facilities, numerous award-winning wineries, hiking and open space trails are in abundant supply on Atascadero’s rustic outskirts.

Don't blink or you will miss the one and only exit to charming Santa Margarita off highway 101 just North of The Grade. Meandering roads cut through grassy meadows and then craggy mountains in this rugged but lovely area. The Santa Margarita Auction Barn is a must stop if you are looking for special vintage furniture and the likes. Check their website for hours and auctions at The privately owned Santa Margarita Ranch with a land mass of over 14000 acres wraps proudly around a large portion of the tiny village. The Pacific Coast Railroad Company operates a train and private tracks at The Santa Margarita Ranch. The train operates for special events. Margarita Adventures - zip lining is a newer attraction at SMR that has both the locals and tourists excited. Imagine streaming from platform to platform above this pristine ranch! For a small town Santa Margarita has great eats! And if that’s not enough you can relax, fish, or boat at the Santa Margarita lake East of town.