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Our 5 favorite things to do in Atascadero

Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens and historic City Hall are among the highlights of a visit to the North County city.
Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens and historic City Hall are among the highlights of a visit to the North County city. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

1. Go stand-up paddleboarding at Atascadero Lake

Atascadero Lake, located just off Highway 41, is one of the city’s hidden gems. After this year’s heavy winter rains, the lake is full for the first time in seven years. That means it’s again teeming with wildlife and finally has enough water for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and other activities. So grab a board or a boat and enjoy a fun afternoon on the water.

2. Visit a tiger at the Charles Paddock Zoo

Atascadero is home to the Charles Paddock Zoo, the only one in the county. The zoo was established in 1955 and now has more than 100 animals on exhibit, including a Malayan tiger, a red panda and curious meerkats. Go make some new animal friends — tickets are only $7 for adults.

3. Watch a movie at the Galaxy Theatre in Atascadero

Atascadero’s Galaxy Theatre features a unique movie-going experience — stadium seating, wine and beer options and chairs that move to match the on-screen action. Plus, its unique Galaxy sign adds a touch of vintage flair to the surrounding neighborhood.

4. Relax in the Sunken Gardens

Pack a picnic or enjoy a stroll around the picturesque park at the center of Atascadero. E.G. Lewis, the city’s founder, modeled the space after “The Grand Basin” at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Today, it features a central fountain, ornate statues and views of Atascadero’s magnificent City Hall.

5. Take a tour of City Hall

Don’t miss a look inside Atascadero’s City Hall, the most beautiful municipal building in San Luis Obispo County. The structure was badly damaged in the 2003 San Simeon earthquake but was restored to its current glory over the course of a decade. Completed in 1918, its striking architecture features a rotunda and columns, and the bottom floor is home to a small museum with items from the city’s earliest days. To schedule an Atascadero Historical Society tour, email atascaderocolonymuseum@gmail.com or call 805-466-8341.

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