Harris Stage Lines (5995 N. River Rd., 805/237-1860, www.harrisstagelines.com) doesn’t offer the typical sedate trail rides. Instead of climbing up onto the back of a horse, you’ll get into a refurbished historic coach or wagon and go for a ride like they did in the 19th century.
Harris has a restored stagecoach, a chuck wagon, and even a couple of Hollywood-built Roman-style chariots. Call in advance to arrange the perfect outing for your party. If you’re really into the historic vehicle scene, you can even book a private driving lesson. Riding lessons are also available.
The craze for floating above vineyards in a balloon basket has made it as far as Paso Robles. This wine region sits in a pretty valley that’s perfect for a romantic ballooning jaunt. Let’s Go Ballooning! (4295 Union Rd., 805/458-1530, http://sloballoon.com, $189/person) can take you on a one-hour ride up over the Paso wine country any day of the week. You’ll meet early at the Rio Seco Winery and spend 2–3 hours with your pilot, preparing and learning about how to ride safely.
Several minutes’ drive from downtown Paso, the River Oaks Hot Springs & Spa (800 Clubhouse Dr., Paso Robles, 805/238-4600, www.riveroakshotsprings.com, Sun.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 9 a.m.–10 p.m., $12–16/hour) sits on country club land over one of the local sulfur-heavy mineral springs. You’ll smell the sulfur even as you drive up and walk from the parking lot to the spacious lobby. An attendant will show you the facilities and guide you to your room.
A popular and reasonably priced option here is an hour of relaxation and healing in one of the outdoor or indoor-open-air hot tubs. You can use the faucets to set your own perfect temperature, and gaze out into the thick gardens that screen the spas from the adjacent golf course. For a more thoroughly relaxing experience, pick a massage or facial treatment to go with your hot tub (or alone, if you don’t care for sulfur water).
Check the website for package specials (many of which include wine served in the privacy of your hot tub room) and aesthetic treatment options.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition