Templeton California – Wine country cow town with charm

A gazebo sits in the middle of a park.

Templeton, California – A Highway 101 town in Central California

Templeton California, beside the Salinas River, is a small town that is usually ignored by travelers through the area. Speeding along Highway 101, the temptation is to make your next destination, be that Paso Robles or Solvang or ?

But getting off the main highway and taking the old road can have rewards, and this little town is charming and has some noteworthy places to visit.

Templeton Park

One of the most charming features of Templeton California is the park which is found in the heart of town.

Picnic tables, gazebo, play area for the kids and restrooms are all here along with plenty of mature shade trees. The park is also home to the largest farmer’s market in San Luis Obispo County on Saturday mornings (0900-1230) with wonderful produce and offerings.

Templeton California Quick Facts:

  • Location: Between Atascadero and Paso Robles along Highway 101.
  • Town Center: GPS coordinates: 35.5490, -120.7056 (Fifth and Main)
  • Founded: 1886 as the southern terminus of the Southern Pacific RR (until 1889); unincorporated
  • County: San Luis Obispo
  • Population: 7700
  • Elevation: 770
  • Area Code: 805
  • Zip Code: 93465

Name Sake: Named after Charles Crocker’s grandson Templeton; the original intent was to name the town “Crocker”, but he declined. Crocker was a major investor in the Southern Pacific Railroad and one of the “Big Four” along with Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington and Mark Hopkins.

Gazebo in Templeton Park

Ranchers, farmers and just plain folk with a few chickens or other animals from several counties all seem to end up in Templeton at some time or another. The reason for that is found in the biggest building in town – Templeton Feed and Grain.

This business blends and packages all sorts of animal feed. As you’re passing through on your vacation or road trip, you probably won’t need anything from there, but you’ll better understand why Main Street is bustling most weekdays.

Templeton Feed building

Templeton feed bag


Things to do in Templeton California


Old Highway 101 through Templeton

Main Street was, at one time, part of Highway 101 back when highways used to pass through towns instead of around them. There are a few places where you can see some of the original 1930’s roadbed. Here is a site which is a great compilation of photos and information about the old road. This link brings you to the main page on Templeton, but if you’re interested, be sure to check out all the other sections. Lots of good things here!

Templeton Historical Society Museum – 309 Main Street

Templeton Historical Society sign

Templeton Historical Society house

Old Templeton RR depot

Templeton depot sign

Bethel Lutheran Church – 295 Old County Road

Bethel Lutheran Templeton

Built in 1891, Bethel is one of the oldest Lutheran churches in California.

Another unusual aspect is the brick construction – masonry buildings don’t do very well in earthquake country so they are rarely seen in California. That this church is standing attests to the craftsmanship of its builders.

Food in Templeton California

McPhee's in Templeton

There aren’t many restaurants in Templeton, but the ones that are here are good to very good.

Heading the list is McPhee’s Grill at 416 S. Main (website). Great dining anytime. Great local wines. My only disappointment with this place is that they used to have the best Sunday brunch anywhere. Alas, no more.

Just a couple doors west is A. J. Spurs at 508 S. Main. Unashamed cowboy cuisine – steak, beans, soup and salsa. Be hungry if you show up here.

Lunch can be a problem if you’re on the road. Many of us end up a national chains because of the uniformity. You know it’s not great, but you know what you’ll get.

Sam’s Deli is hidden behind Templeton Spirits at 567 S. Main. Just pull in the parking lot and it’s behind the liquor store. Cozy, friendly and Sam makes the best sandwiches in the area.

Across the freeway in the newer section of Templeton and in the midst of medical offices is Chulo’s Cantina at 335 Posada Ln. No website, but their phone is (805) 434-3044. Open for breakfast, lunch and supper. Not many tourists find this one. It’s a local favorite. Very good Mexican fare.

If you are passing through you might want to stop in at Nature’s Touch Nursery and Harvest. It’s a sort of “farmer’s market grocery”. All the food is locally sourced, usually by small producers in the area. They are now serving soups and salads, so if you’re wanting to stay healthy, even on the road, stop here. 225 S. Main Street.

Finally, across Highway 101 at the southern end of town is Pier 46 Seafood. Located on Rossi Rd. in the Trader Joe’s center off Vineyard Road this is our favorite place for fresh seafood in the area. In addition to selling beautiful fish right off the boat, they make mean fish tacos and many other items and have a few tables inside and out. This is really popular with locals so lunchtime is very busy, but a moderate wait is well worth it and you can take your lunch back to Templeton Park. 805/434-1950.

Not bad for a little, bitty town, right?

Wine Tasting in Templeton California

Clavo Cellars is at 315 S. Main St. in the heart of town. (website)

That’s your choice right in town, BUT if you head south on Main St. and then right on Vineyard across the freeway, you’ll be in the heart of wine country. Vineyard (the name rather says it all) crosses Highway 46 west of Paso Robles. Many wineries either way on the 46. If you cross the 46 and continue on Vineyard there are still more tasting rooms. You could spend a week and still not visit them all. But that gives you an excuse to visit here again, right?

Templeton Dog Park

Vineyard Dog Park in Templeton

If you’re traveling with you dog, knowing where the dog parks are is a very good thing. One of the newest and nicest ones in the area is found at 1856 Vineyard Drive west of Highway 101. Big and little dog areas for off-leash fun.

Vineyard Dog Park in Templeton

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