Old Edna Townsite
Plan Your Reunion in 2017
By Cheryl Crabtree
Planning a family gathering for multiple generations isn’t as easy as it used to be. In the old days, grandparents, their children, the grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins often lived within easy traveling distance to the family hub, often a farm or home with plenty of room for everyone. But today’s extended families more typically live in different parts of the nation and world. It’s a challenge to find a convenient and affordable destination for everyone, with enough activities to please all ages, plus a suitable venue for events.
Word is getting out that California’s Central Coast, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is a fantastic place for multigenerational families to get together. The region’s centrality is a key draw for reunion planners—travelers can fly directly into San Luis Obispo Airport, or into San Francisco, San Jose, or Los Angeles, and either drive or ride Amtrak trains to San Luis Obispo County.
A popular venue that has witnessed a steady uptick in reunion bookings is the historic Old Edna town site in the scenic Edna Valley wine region just south of the city of San Luis Obispo. The tiny town of Edna dates back to the 1880s and once was a busy settlement with a stagecoach stop, hotel, blacksmith shop, saloons, a mercantile, community hall, schoolhouse, and several farmhouses. A post office and railroad arrived around 1900.
Pattea Torrance and her husband bought the Old Edna property in 2000 and have been restoring the buildings and grooming the grounds ever since. Pattea calls herself the “Mayor” of Old Edna and today welcomes guests to stay in the original farmhouses and socialize in the various adjacent buildings.
“We’re getting more and more families who come here because there’s something for everyone,” says Torrance. “Plus, it takes only 10 or 15 minutes to drive to the beaches, including Avila Beach and Pismo Beach, and to Cal Poly and the city of San Luis Obispo. You can taste wine right here on the property and more than 20 different tasting rooms are minutes away.” Torrance adds that her active and adventurous reunion guests like to cycle and hike along the many nearby trails, and visit the Oso Flaco Lake wildlife preserve and rent ATVs in Oceano Dunes state park just down the road.
Families planning large reunions often take advantage of the nearby vacation rentals, hotels, motels and B&B’s while gathering at a single central location. Two popular locations nearby include The Vineyard House at Biddle Ranch and Greengate Ranch and Vineyard. Old Edna itself offers many options for reunioners of all ages to connect. “Grandparents like to hang out in rocking chairs on the porch, while kids like to pet and feed the goats and collect eggs from the chicken coop,” says Torrance. She adds that grown-ups can uncork recently acquired vintages and sip craft beer in a private cellar while “kids can run amok and be in nature” nearby. Visitors of all ages like to pick fresh fruit and nuts straight from the trees and play bocce on the courts.
Torrance is expecting repeat visitors and many more reunions this season and in the coming years. She has lost the elder generation of her own family, and therefore derives much enjoyment witnessing the smiling faces of her guests when they convene at Old Edna. “There’s something magical about this townsite, and I love to see people happy here—it means the world to me.”