Every August Atascadero celebrates summer with Hot El Camino Nights, a festival dedicated to cool cars, great food, and live music.
The first night kicked off Friday, August 16 with the largest cruise night in San Luis Obispo County, followed by a car show on Saturday, August 17, and dancing, live music, and food Saturday night.
This year was the 27th annual Hot El Camino Nights Cruise Nite event, which saw 400 locals showing off their cars as they cruised El Camino Real in Atascadero from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. on Friday.
Many of those cars also showed up for the 30th Annual Mid State Cruizers Car Show on Saturday, which was held at Atascadero Lake Park from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and again at the Dancing in the Streets event Saturday night from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Learn more about our adventures at Hot El Camino Nights below, and make sure to put the 2020 dates on your calendar for next year!
Cruise Nite | Mid-State Cruizers Car Show | Dancing in the Streets | Tips for Next Year | Contact Information
Cruise Nite is the kickoff event for Atascadero’s Hot El Camino Nights, and takes place Friday night over the weekend festivities. The event takes place in downtown Atascadero, with the cruise taking place between Traffic Way and Curbaril Streets.
This year there were at least 400 cars ranging from classically restored hotrods from the 1950’s and 1960’s to today’s sports cars, pickup trucks, and lowriders. We watched as the owners took pride showing off their cars to the spectators that lined the streets, and we cheered every time a special car, flashy lights, or funky horn drove by.
Getting a good view for the Cruise Nite was not difficult, but parking was more challenging (we also got there five minutes before the event started, so…). We ended up parking two blocks north of the Police Station in Atascadero, so it was a bit of a hike back and forth to the car. The walk was very easy though, and well lit at night, so overall it was not a problem given how late we were to the event.
Mid State Cruizers Car Show
On Saturday the Hot El Camino Nights festivities continued with the 30th Annual Mid State Cruizers Car Show. The car show allowed the community to see some of the great cars from Cruise Nite up close and personal, and a chance to talk to the owners about their pride and joy.
The car show took place at Atascadero Lake Park from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and visitors enjoyed live music and great food while wandering around looking at all the cars on display. We got to see everything from the classically restored cars from the 1950s and 1960s, rat rods, and custom pickup trucks, all with the beautiful view of Atascadero Lake behind them.
There is plenty of parking around Atascadero Lake Park making attending the event very easy. We got there close to 10:00 a.m. when it started, and the event was already packed, but we were able to park right away and within close walking distance to the car show.
Dancing in the Streets
Saturday the Hot El Camino Nights festivities wrapped up with the hottest party of the year: Dancing in the Streets.
Much of the downtown core from West Mall to Traffic Way was closed to make way for two live music stages, a VIP car show area, food and drink stands from local vendors, and a stage where some of our tiniest dancers performed.
The music, food, and drinks at Dancing in the Streets started at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and lasted until 10:00 p.m. that night. This year we ate at Hungry Mother Truck and Old San Luis BBQ, but there were a lot of other food options there too.
There were also beer, wine, and cocktails at the party, which was a great way to get people dancing. We checked in at the main booth to get our 21+ wristband, and then bought drink tickets to use at the individual stands. Atascadero also made the genius move to using plastic cups, but still had a great design to commemorate the weekend.
We had a pretty easy time parking for Dancing in the Streets, and found a spot on El Camino Real near Bru Coffeehouse, which was only about two blocks from the party. We did arrive closer to 5:00 p.m. though, and could see parking getting much more difficult as the night went on. Our advice would be to get there as close to 5:00 p.m. as possible and enjoy the whole night!
Tips for Next Year
1. Next Year’s Dates
The tentative 2020 dates are:
2. Cruise Nite
Cruise Nite is a lot like a parade where you sit on the sidewalk and watch the cars cruise around El Camino Real. The whole time is much more fun if you bring your own chairs or blanket. Also, there is no food or drink sold on the street, so definitely plan on bringing your own!
3. Mid State Cruizers Car Show
Many of the cars from Cruise Nite end up at the Mid State Cruizers Car Show, along with many other cool cars that couldn’t make the Friday night event. This is your one chance to talk to all of the car owners and see the cars up close, so definitely plan on attending if this is a big deal to you.
4. Plan for the “in between” times
If you are traveling to Atascadero for the Mid State Cruizers Car Show and Dancing in the Streets you’ll need to have a plan for the “in between” time. The car show ends at 3:00 p.m. and Dancing in the Streets doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m. giving you a big gap. Thankfully there is a lot of fun stuff to do in Atascadero and the surrounding cities. Check out our pages for Paso Robles and Morro Bay to get some ideas!
5. Dancing in the Streets
Don’t forget your drink wristband and tickets! The only way to get a beer, wine, or cocktail at Dancing in the Streets is with a 21+ wristband and drink tickets, so don’t forget to get in line early and grab yours before the line wraps around the block.
Also plan on bringing cash to the event. Several places take cards now, but not everyone does, and you don’t want to have to walk away from what you’re craving most because you didn’t bring cash.
Lastly don’t forget to check out the after parties! Bars like Dead Oak Brewing and Tent City often have specials or events after Dancing in the Streets, and visiting a neighborhood bar is a great way to keep the fun going after Dancing in the Streets ends.