Historic Administration Building, Atascadero

Classical architecture - Historic siteTaking the DAY 1 spotlight of our #CentralCoastTopNineWonders (kiddo edition) is … Atascadero’s Historic City Hall!

Built in 1918, this impressive 65,000-square-foot structure is a surprising find in small-town Atascadero California.

It’s built next to the large grassy lawn called the Sunken Gardens and is home several historical artifacts including 100-year-old mermaid water fountains and a famous statue from the 1904 World’s Fair.

Smile - FaceAt the front of City Hall, you’ll find some free historical exhibits from the Atascadero Historical Society.

The kids spent all of five minutes looking at the two-room museum exhibits. But it was still a nice quiet (ish) moment to reflect on local history (and an excuse to get the kids to whisper). Then we went to the lobby to look up at the pretty ceiling, snap a few pics and head outside.

Back at the Sunken Gardens (which isn’t very garden-y, btw), the kids ran around on the grass. Near the center of the lawn, you’ll find a large fountain to toss coins into. Be prepared to keep your kids from falling into it 😂.

If your kids are older, there are free docent-led tours by appointment: (805) 466-8341.


I feel odd quoting myself here 😂, but in a 2010 edition of The Tribune, I wrote that the building has a rich history that’s served as a …

* College dorm for three different private schools – one of which housed baseball legend Jackie Robinson!

* Basement shooting range for the Sheriff’s Office.

* Public library in the top rotunda, with book stacks on the surrounding mezzanine and reading desks below

* Motion picture company for film classes

* Home to the Bank of Atascadero, Chamber of Commerce offices, and a post office

* Veterans Memorial Building in the 1970s

For my part, until about 2015, I covered late-night city council meetings in the top rotunda, taking the single elevator all the way up!

For nine days in January, I’m posting my #CentralCoastTopNineWonders series of kid-friendly attractions in San Luis Obispo County.

This is Day 1. You can search for the other Days here.

About Tonya Strickland

Tonya Strickland is a journalist and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. A former newspaper reporter, Tonya shares unfiltered #momlife content about places to go with kids. Her family moved from California's Central Coast to Washington state in August 2020. Their adventures now continue in the Pacific Northwest.

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