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The San Luis Obispo Wine Region

California is home to over 4,000 wineries and vineyards. Yet, when most people think of California wine, they only think of the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Clusters of wine regions exist throughout the state, each producing wine as unique as the area that grows it. San Luis Obispo is one of the smaller wine regions located along the central coast. If you were to drive down US 101 without a map, you might not even realize you were passing one of California’s hidden gems. Anyone who loves wine should take a trip to San Luis Obispo.

Unique Growing Conditions

Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, San Luis Obispo is divided into two wine growing valleys: the Edna Valley and the Arroyo Grande Valley. Both valleys have a unique east-to-west orientation, allowing a continuous supply of sea air to cool the region. This breeze creates a moderate, steady climate that extends the ripening process of the grapes, giving them a full, balanced flavor.

The soil in the area is also unlike any other part of California. It appears that San Luis Obispo is located where the Pacific Plate and the Continental Plate met over 17 million years ago. This collision pushed sandstone, shale, limestone, and marine fossils to the surface. Petrified oyster shells are still commonly found on farms. The proximity to volcanoes and past volcanic activity have also added to the complex composition of the soil.

Many vineyards in San Luis Obispo are classified as region 1, a category reserved for the coolest wine growing regions in the world. This combined with the rough soil creates growing conditions only known to this area. Wine produced from San Luis Obispo has a unique intensity and full-flavor. 

Traditions of Value

While production of wine may have increased in San Luis Obispo in the last 30 years, vineyards are far from new to the area. Winemaking dates back to the founding of the first mission in the 18th century. The community has stayed true to its roots through recent growth. There is still a sense of small-town friendliness and the majority of winerys are family-owned.

Almost every winery and vineyard in San Luis Obispo  has a Sustainability in Practice certificate. This goes beyond just organic farming practices. It also includes strict standards for habitat conservation, energy efficiency, pest management, water conservation, economic stability, and human resources. This commitment to caring for the environment and community is a cornerstone value of the area.

More Than Just Wine

While we recommend visiting every winery room and tasting room you can while in San Luis Obispo, there is also plenty more to explore. Even though the weather is considered cool by growing standards in the valley, in other parts of San Luis Obispo the weather is usually 70 and sunny. There are hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails as well as kayak rentals and tours. There are a variety of beaches. Some are perfect for relaxing, while others have sunbathing sea lions and coves ready to be explored.

Downtown San Luis Obispo is lined with locally owned shops and restaurants. In a bizarre, but fun rite of passage for visitors, you can stick a piece of chewed gum along the walls of Bubblegum Alley right in the heart of downtown. You can experience history by touring the Mission, take a trolley ride to the Point San Luis Lighthouse, or join in the nightlife of downtown. San Luis Obispo offers an eventful trip for everyone.

 

The Quick Access Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles map shows the best wineries in the area. Additional information including opening hours and tasting rooms is also included. All Global Graphics maps are easy-to-use and clearly labeled for straightforward navigating. 

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Tips for a Safe Solo Road Trip

Embarking on a solo road trip can be a fun and freeing experience. The majority of the United States is safe to travel alone. If you’re driving along interstates, there will be plenty of rest areas. Highway exits with restaurants and gas stations will be clearly marked. However, there are still unique challenges to driving alone and special precautions should be taken. Whether you’re traveling cross-country or to the next state, you want to ensure your solo road trip is safe.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Before any road trip, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle is running in good condition. You should always check your car’s fluids and tire pressure. For longer trips, or if you wouldn’t consider yourself car savvy, it is best to have a mechanic take a look.

You also want to make sure to pack an emergency kit in your vehicle. Recommend items include a flashlight, duct tape, a multi-head screwdriver, jumper cables, a tire gauge, fire extinguisher, road flares, a first aid kit, and a water bottle. Consider what else you might need to bring based on the length of your trip and any inclement weather you might encounter. Basic emergency kits can be bought from sites such as Amazon or Walmart.

In addition to an emergency kit, consider investing in a roadside assistance service such as AAA before you leave. If you do encounter car trouble you can’t fix yourself,  you don’t want to be stranded in an unknown area for hours. Roadside assistance ensures help will arrive promptly.

Leave Your Itinerary

While you of course need to remember to bring a copy of your itinerary, you also want to leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member. Map out and show them the route you intend to take. Let them know what time you plan on arriving to your destination or checking into a hotel.  Even if you are traveling to sight-see without a set schedule or destination, establish times you will call and check in. Minor emergencies can become much more severe when traveling alone. If your car were to break down in a location without cell service, you’d want some else to realize you need help. With a copy of your itinerary, your friend or family member could direct local assistance to find you. 

Establish Personal Limits

Not everyone has the same limits for driving extended periods of time. Some people can drive for 12 hours multiple days in a row with only minimal stops. Most of us can not. Decide what your limits are. If you can’t see well at night then find lodging before the sun sets.  If you need to stretch your legs every 3-4 hours, just plan accordingly. In rural parts of the United States places to stop may be far apart so you’ll want to begin searching in advance. Pack water, snacks, a car cell phone charger, or anything else you might need while driving in easy reach.

If you are travelling west, its advised to start your drive early in the day. If you’re driving east, getting a late start can be better. This is because driving into the sun can cause light to hit the windshield at angles that make it difficult for drivers to see.

Bring a Printed Map

Using a printed map allows you to see the big picture of the area you’re traveling through. Since driving alone can become monotonous or dull, it can help to map out a route with attractions or interesting views along the way.

Keeping a printed map in your vehicle can also keep you safe. While most people reply on a GPS or navigation from their smartphone these days, there are limitations to these devices. While they can give weather and traffic updates, they can also lead you in roundabout routes or to unsafe neighborhoods when followed blindly. Electronic navigation devices can also run out of battery or lose signal. In any sort of emergency you’ll want to have a printed map available to consult. You can easily guide yourself to a nearby city to seek help or simply back to your established route. 

If you’re going to be traveling in the United States, check out the maps available in our online store.

Did you miss last month’s blog post? Check out these Little-Known Facts about Los Angeles History.

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Little-Known Facts About Los Angeles History

Many historical facts about Los Angeles are well known. Any guidebook or tour will tell you that LA is the birthplace of Mickey Mouse, or that the Hollywood sign first read “HollywoodLand” as an advertisement for a real estate development. With so much interest in the modern Los Angeles, many pieces of history have been nearly forgotten. We’ve gathered some historical facts we bet even some Angelenos don’t know. 

Beverly Hills’ Lima Beans

The legendary Beverly Hills Hotel was built on a former Lima bean ranch. After being settled in 1828,  the region was used for growing Lima beans and cabbage. Hundreds of acres sprawled the land because of the access to water through the Benedict Canyon. In the 1900’s, the land was divided and a parcel sold to Margaret Anderson, owner of the successful Hollywood Hotel. She built a new location in Beverly Hills, beginning the migration of the rich and famous that transformed the area.

The Speed of Light

Mount Wilson, an observatory located just outside Los Angeles, has seen three astrophysics breakthroughs. The first was by George Ellery Hale in 1908.  He used a 60-inch mirror to improve his telescope and show for the first time that the sun was not the center of the universe. Then, in the 1920s, Edwin Hubble discovered that what scientists were calling “spiral nebulas” were actually other far-away galaxies. The third and most well-known achievement occurred when Albert Michelson measured the speed of light using two giant mirrors, one at the Mount Wilson observatory and one 22 miles away on the the side of Mount San Antonio. The experiment documented that light traveled at two ten-thousandths of a second.

The Original Iron Man

Before the Marvel superhero, there was a different Iron Man. His real name was Joseph Ardizzone, a mafia member who became the first Boss of the Los Angeles crime family. He supplied alcohol to Los Angeles throughout the prohibition, but was also responsible for organizing illegal gambling, serving as a loan shark, and dealing drugs. No one is quite sure why he was called Iron Man, but he had a reputation for killing at least thirty men. After several attempts on his life, Ardizzone went mysteriously missing. After seven years, he was declared dead. 

The Battle of Los Angeles

In 1942, the Battle of Los Angeles, also sometimes referred to as the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, took place. The incident lasted less than 24 hours, but a city-wide blackout was ordered. Shots were fired by the United States Air Force at what was believed to be a Japanese air barrage. It was later declared a false alarm, with the military blaming a weather balloon and “war nerves” that caused the military to panic and believe they saw more aircrafts. At the time, many newspapers speculated there was some sort of government cover-up. While no one was injured directly, some sources claim up to 30 victims from injuries caused by shock or car crashes. 

 

To find your way around Los Angeles without every getting lost, check out our LA Detailed Street Map  and our LA Freeway System & Major Streets Map.

Did you miss last week’s blog post? Click here to read why you should Visit Yosemite National Park This Spring.

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Visit Yosemite National Park This Spring

Yosemite National Park, established in 1890, boasts over 1,200 square feet of protected natural beauty in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Each year over four million people travel to view the legendary granite cliffs, sequoia groves, glaciers, waterfalls, and more. With so much to see, knowing the best times to visit can be tough, but choosing to visit in spring has many advantages.

Perfect Cascading Waterfalls

From April to late May Yosemite waterfalls experience peak flow. Refreshed from melted snow, the waterfalls are at their most gorgeous, creating the breathtaking sights of roaring water and misting clouds that visitors expect. Five of the falls, including the three-tiered Yosemite Falls cascade from well over a thousand feet. The abundance of water also creates new, unmarked streams and falls for visitors to explore and discover.

Ideal Hiking Weather

With snow in the winter and high temperatures in the summer, spring is the best time for visiting Yosemite. While some trails don’t open until mid to late May, most of the 800 trails are open by April. Storms are occasional in spring, with mild weather that reaches an average of 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the valley. The sunny, warm weather and freshly opened trails make for ideal hiking conditions for any but the most extreme hikers.

Abundant Wildlife

New life begins its return to the Yosemite Valley in April. Over 1,450 types of flowers bloom in the area with monkey flowers, beardtongues, buttercups, poppies, and lupines as the first arriving each year. Dogwood trees are also among the first to bloom, creating skylines of white flowers. Even later blooming plants begin to sprout green leaves and turn barren valleys back to fields of color. Animals are also at their most active, making coyote, bighorn sheep, or fox sightings a greater possibility.

Less Crowds

Peak season at Yosemite National Park is from June through October, so visiting in spring is the best way to beat the crowds. If you’d really like to experience the beauty in solidarity, the Yosemite National Park website recommends visiting in the morning, mid-week in April. In addition to more spaces available for organized activities like guided tours, archery lessons, and astronomy walks, there will also be more open views and better photo opportunities. Visiting before the peak season can help you save money too! Every year visitors can enter for free during National Park week.

Check out our Yosemite Valley panoramic map to learn more!

Did you miss last month’s blog post? Check out these 6 Iconic Restaurants Along Route 66

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6 Iconic Restaurants Along Route U.S. 66

Route U.S. 66 was one of the first American highways and a major path for travelers migrating west for decades. While new interstates and freeways have made travel quicker and more efficient, they can’t replace the charm of Historic Route U.S. 66. Whether you’re planning a trip, or just feeling nostalgic, visiting these 6 restaurants will make anyone reminisce for the Mother Road.

Ariston Cafe, Litchfield, Illinois

The Ariston Cafe was founded by a Greek immigrant, Pete Adam, on Route 4, which later became part of U.S. 66. The cafe was moved to its current location in Litchfield in 1935, making it one of the oldest restaurants on Historic Route 66. The cafe serves a variety of dishes, but you can’t leave without trying the dessert! From cheesecake to baklava, every dish is baked fresh and flavorful, making Ariston Cafe famous among travelers.

Eisler Bros Old Rivertown Grocery Store, Riverton, Kansas

The interior of this route 66 store has barely changed since its doors opened in 1925. Much of the original decor remains and even one of the outhouses still stands (although most visitors use the indoor plumbing these days). The store sells groceries, produce, flowers, and gifts, including some handcrafted by local artists. Besides the historical aesthetic, this grocery store is well-known for its sandwiches, served fresh from the deli counter.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard Stand, Chippewa, Missouri

In 1941, Ted Drewes, Sr. opened this custard stand. Today, it is still in the hands of his son, Ted Drewes, Jr., who has been operating it for over eighty years. As automobile traffic increased along Route 66, Ted Drewes, Jr. expanded his custard stand from 5 windows to 12 –a number thought excessive at the time. Today, the business is still thriving and expanded to many other locations. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard Stand is best known for its hot fudge sundaes and Ted’s “concrete,” a malt or shake so thick that it is served to customers upside down.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Home to the free 72 oz steak, how could you pass up The Big Texan Steak Ranch? Of course, finishing the steak in one hour along with a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and roll is required for the meal to be free. The restaurant also boasts live music, a zipline, and a dance hall. Don’t forget your cameras either, between the historic cowboy billboard and a dinosaur statue, there are plenty of photo ops too.

Del’s Restaurant, Tucumari, New Mexico

Thanks to the neon cow that sits atop their famous sign, you’ll know when you’ve arrived at the right place. Open since 1956, Del’s Restaurant is still serving Mexican, American, and seafood dishes with over-the-top service. Known locally for their extensive salad bar, but better known to tourists for the Route 66 decor that covers the restaurant, Del’s Restaurant is great place to eat when passing through Tucuamari.

Bagdad Cafe, Newberry Springs, California

Originally called the “Sidewinder Cafe,” this Mojave Desert restaurant changed its name after starring as the location for the film “Bagdad Cafe.” Like the movie, it’s a quirky cafe in a quiet town where visitors from all over the world gather. Full of memorabilia and odd collections, the Bagdad Cafe is a can’t miss stop on Route 66. They serve diner food staples, including their well-known buffalo burger.

 

For more information including the best attractions and an easy to read map of the historic and current Route U.S. 66, check out our Route 66 map.