The town's name is derived from a Spanish word meaning "bog", and in the Chumash language it means "a place of much water". The town was founded in 1913 as a planned utopian colony by Edward Gardner Lewis, a magazine published who had founded the town of University City, Missouri. The centerpiece of the new town was an Italian Renaissance-style town hall, surrounded by the expansive Sunken Gardens.
Car is the easiest way to get to Atascadero.
- 1 Atascadero City Hall, 6500 Palma Ave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30AM-5PM. Construction of the city hall began in 1914 and was completed in 1918. The building sustained significant damage in a 6.6 magnitude earthquake in 2003, but reopened ten years later after extensive repairs and retrofitting. Today the building is again home to the local government, and to a museum maintained by the Atascadero Historical Society. Docent-led tours of this California Historical landmark are offered Wednesday noon-2PM & Friday 1-4PM, or by appointment. Free, donations accepted.
- 2 Charles Paddock Zoo, 9305 Pismo Avenue, ☏ . Open 7 days a week. April 1 – October 31: 10AM to 5PM, November 1 – March 31: 10AM to 4PM. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Charles Paddock Zoo is a community zoo located on five park-like acres within Atascadero Lake Park. It has been accredited since 1991 and is one of the smallest accredited zoos in America. Exhibits include over 100 animals and 45 species including birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Species of particular interest include a pair of red pandas, Malayan tiger, fossa, lemur, meerkat, wallaby, kinkajou, and sloth. Adults $7, children (3-11) $5, seniors (65+) $6, children 2 years and under free.
- 3 Sunken Gardens, 6505 El Camino Real. Conceived by the city's founder, the Sunken Gardens were inspired by the "Grand Basin" at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Statues, an impressive fountain, and walkways fill this park. Farmers markets and other events are held here, and during the summer movies are sometimes shown on an inflatable screen. While it's a pleasant place to visit, many homeless people hang out in the park.
- Atascadero Lake Park, 9305 Pismo Ave, ☏ . 6AM–10PM. The Atascadero Lake Park includes a well-maintained trail around the Atascadero Lake, a playground, paddleboat rentals, restrooms, picnic tables, and a volleyball court. There are many stone benches, and a few exercise stations along the trail. The trail runs along the edge of the lake, is wide enough to accommodate multiple people, and has plenty of trees that provide a nice amount of shade. You can enjoy a scenic view of the lake by driving or walking along Lake View Dr. Barbecue areas are available for reservation if you call.
- 1 Best Western Colony Inn, 3600 El Camino Real, ☏ , fax: . $75+.
- 2 Carlton Hotel, 6005 El Camino Real, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. This historic hotel was built in 1929, closed in 1987, and reopened after a $15-million renovation in 2003. Today it is the most expensive hotel in town. $100+.
- 3 Motel 6, 9400 El Camino Real, ☏ , fax: . $60+.
- Morro Bay - 17 miles southwest of Atascadero, this coastal town is best known for the massive 581-foot (177-m) volcanic rock that dominates its harbor, but is also a great spot to see marine mammals and is home to one of California's oldest fine art and craft shows.
- Paso Robles - Paso Robles is a historical resort town known for its hot springs that is 14 miles north of Atascadero. This city's major industry is wine production, with vineyards located throughout the surrounding area.
|Routes through Atascadero|
|Salinas ← Paso Robles ←||N S||→ Jct E → San Luis Obispo|
|Ends at ← Morro Bay ←||SW NE||→ Kettleman City → Fresno|