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Venture out on This Classic L.A.-to-Paso Robles Road Trip

Venture out on This Classic L.A.-to-Paso Robles Road Trip

Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind Travel shares her favorite stops on this food-forward route along the Central Coast

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Posted 3 years agoby John Godfrey

Aida Mollenkamp loves travel, loves food, and loves exploring California by motor vehicle. In fact, the host of the Food Network's Ask Aida developed a love for road trips at an early age.

"I grew up in this huge family," Mollenkamp explained during her recent appearance on the California Now Podcast. "I have five siblings and my parents turned to road trips because it was a good way to wrangle everybody. We've done RVs. We've done vans. We've done Ford F-150s and just teeny little rental cars. I've done kind of every kind of road trip up and down the state. One of my favorite things to do when I have people visiting is to take them on one here in California."

California Now host Soterios Johnson asked Mollenkamp to share a turn-by-turn account of a favorite Golden State getaway and she opted for a jaunt that begins in Los Angeles, stops in Ventura for a spell, hits Santa Barbara, and continues on to Paso Robles.

You could make this trek in a day but Mollenkamp suggests slowing down and taking everything in.

"This is about a three-day, two-night trip," she told Johnson. "I have to say, a lot of people think that means weekends. I can encourage people, to the end of my days, to do this kind of a trip during the week if you have the ability because it really means you're going to get a little more attention from locals and from places that you visit, and there's just not going to be as much traffic."

Mollenkamp raved about Ventura during the interview, pointing out that the strawberries are fresh, the vibe is eco-friendly, and the shopping is great at Patagonia's headquarters. The oysters aren't too shabby either.

"If you are there on the weekend, then you absolutely must stop at the Jolly Oyster, which is a truck in San Buenaventura State Beach," she noted. "I'm talking oceanfront with the breeze going through your hair—and there's a little food truck. They are serving up Kumamotos and sea urchin. They have a beet mignonette. I don't know who came up with that idea, but it is genius. You can just go to one of the picnic tables, and hang out with your family."

She also encourages road trippers to engage in some wine tasting in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone: "Santa Barbara and Central Coast has some of the most amazing wines in the world," she said. "All you have to do is watch the movie Sideways to know what I'm talking about." The Valley Project, Mollenkamp notes, is a great place to sample a few different wineries and get a solid grounding in the local terroir.

She has lots more to say in the interview, including a recommendation on where to stay in Paso Robles and where to get some of best baked goods along the Central Coast. It's definitely worth a listen for anybody planning to be in Southern California anytime soon. 

"This is the kind of road trip that I do, no joke, once a year minimum," Mollenkamp added, "a lot of times in the spring and the fall because the wine is in a different place and the food is different during those times a year. This is a road trip that, once you do it, I'm pretty sure you're going to want to do like me, and just do it over and over again."

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