Committed to providing fresh pours, the winetenders of Gather Wine Bar uncork only 25 to 35 of their carefully curated central-coast wines each week. Knowledgeable staff can recommend a bottle for customers to pair with charcuterie plates, flatbread pizzas, and gourmet pub snacks such as bacon-wrapped dates. Alternatively, themed wine flights can provide a cross section of a single varietal or eclectic tastes from an array of vines. Live music acts and singles events create an upbeat atmosphere on many nights, and catered parties can gather small groups around a fire pit or feed 100 or more people with unlimited appetizers from the bar.
The beer craftsmen at Pismo Brewing Company slake thirst with a rotating array of six craft beers brewed in-house. In the tasting room, which is open seven days a week, bartenders pour pints of Pismo pale ale and the toasty, caramel-tinged Roadster red ale, complemented by a smattering of pub fare. Root beer is also available to fertilize the tubers of underage youngsters. The brewery's selection of logo-emblazoned T-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts displays affinity for craft brews and implicit disdain for lesser beverages, such as horse tears. Occasionally on Friday nights, the bass rumblings from live musical performances send ripples through pints of cool brews.
To spotlight wines for casual drinkers and sommeliers alike, the crew of The Workshop Urban Wine Collective opened up a tasting room showcasing a range of blends and vintages. Their establishment is modeled after urban wineries that have existed in American for over 150 years. Head up to the bar or settle in one one of the plush, red couches to sip samples of the house varietal, Vijelante, alongside the wares of the collective's winemaking members. The house wine is available for take-away in growlers, so visitors can have something to drink at home, on a picnic, or a family celebration.
Though Ardy Conway and her staff of certified trainers at Ardy's Pilates Studio work primarily with three apparatus—the Reformer, the Cadillac, and the chair—they are well equipped to weave more than 500 Pilates exercises into their custom workouts. Ardy draws on more than 20 years of experience as she and her team tailor private and semiprivate sessions to individual goals, such as relieving joint pain or improving at golf. The instructors also host group Reformer classes, which max out at six students to keep classes personal and allow competitive sextuplets to remain at the same fitness level.
At Monarch Dunes Golf Club, the links-style golf of coastal Britannia stretches out in the hills of California wine country. Amid windswept dunes and eucalyptus trees sweep coastal views speckled with amber hillsides and big blue skies. And this is just how architects Damian Pascuzzo and PGA Tour Pro Steve Pate wanted it. But they also wanted something beyond beautiful vistas. They wanted a unique 30-hole arena that tested the mettle of golfers.
On the 6,810-yard, par-71 Old Course, players unleash the full potential of their swings on the open expanses of the longer front nine before dialing back for close control on the back nine—a shorter tract made formidable by water hazards on all but two holes. Though the two halves have their own distinct flavors, both begin with mid-length par-4s. These are the course's two most difficult holes, so savvy golfers should spend extra time before the round and at the turn to give their driver an encouraging massage.
While the Old Course is a grassy homage to golf's most sacred traditions, Monarch Dunes' Challenge Course charts a much more unorthodox path—and not just in its unconventional 12-hole layout. While some par-3 courses are known as "pitch-and-putts" for their short holes, The Challenge—named among the Top 10 Par-3 Courses by Golf.com—will have some reaching for a driver or three-wood on holes 5 and 12, which measure 242 and 202 yards respectively. Golfers can expect to finish the round in two hours or less, freeing up plenty of time to relax at the Butterfly Grille or shop for flame decals to glue onto their golf bag.
Course at a Glance: The Old Course
Course at a Glance: The Challenge
At Blacklake Golf Resort, players can choose any combination of challenges from three distinct nine-hole courses, each representing a unique feature of playing golf within the varied landscape of the Central Coast. Sea breezes drift up from the valley to the Canyons course's elevated tee boxes. The Oaks course ventures away from the clubhouse to wind through a forest of towering oak trees, its undulating grass and smooth walkways shaded by the abundant branches of those mighty oaks. To begin the Lakes course, a short, 143-yard hole heralds the inviting nature of the compact layout and wide fairways, all before a monstrous 573-yard par 5 finishes the round.
Open from dawn to dusk, Blacklake Golf Resort also features practice facilities, including a 275-yard driving range and two putting, chipping, and pitching greens on which to improve your techniques. During lessons, the staff (http://blacklake.com/staff/) of PGA professionals works to improve players' fundamentals without sacrificing the fun, relaxing nature of the sport.
Course at a Glance:
* Three nine-hole courses (par 36, 36, and 35)
* Total yardages from the back tees: 3,276, 3,125, and 2,909
* Three sets of tees per hole