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At 32 acres, the preserve is owned by the Morro Coast Audubon Society and includes hiking trails, interpretive signs, footbridges, and memorial benches. Local and migratory birds, as well as many other wildlife species, favor these saltwater marsh wetlands, the cypresses, pines and eucalyptus trees. This bayside forest offers views of Morro Rock in the distance, and even plays host to a congregation of migratory Monarch Butterflies. Locals and visitors visit Sweet Springs year-round, enjoying its peace and tranquility, abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, and rambling trails. The preserve is open from dawn to dusk, with parking at 660 Ramona Avenue in Los Osos Baywood Park. This ADA-accessible parking lot meets with a granite trail and raised boardwalk. Remember that this is a quiet and preserved natural space; avoid making a negative impact on the environment here. Keep noise to a minimum with quiet voices and activities, and pack out all litter. The Morro Coast Audubon Society prohibits pets, fires, smoking, bicycles, drones, collection of plants, boating, swimming, beach access and firearms at the preserve. The MCAS also strictly prohibits feeding, hunting, and harassing wildlife. By committing to learning more about the natural habitat here, you can participate in our Stewardship Travel for Good program.

Explore Los Osos & Baywood Park

https://youtu.be/NUbfvuuXv0E

History of the Preserve

The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is some of the most desirable property along Highway 1, facing the beautiful back bay of the Morro Bay National Estuary. From as far back as 500 AD, this land sustained the lives of indigenous Chumash people, as discovered through archeological artifacts found here. The abundance of the estuary and the safety it offered must have made this an especially beneficial place. European explorers arrived in the late 1700s with Spanish captain Gaspar de Portola, whose expedition traveled up the California coast in 1769. It was Portola whose sailors named the town Los Osos after the bears they observed here. Nearly 100 years later, Los Osos had been well established as a farming and ranching area. Developers filed a map with the County Recorder’s office that shows a subdivision where Sweet Springs Preserve stands now. The subdivision was never built, but another developer, Walter Refield, tried to do so in 1919. He bought 3000 lots near what’s now Baywood, and sold many of them for $10 each. It is very likely that Sweet Springs was part of that development. Another owner, Charles Ferrell, also owned 220 acres of Sweet Springs, and built the now-gone Duck Inn on the property in 1920. The trees that populate Sweet Springs Nature Preserve were planted by Richard Stuart Otto, yet another real estate developer who established Baywood Park. The land served several functions until the mid 1907s, including irrigation for potato farming, and hosting a mobile home park. But in 1975, the Morro Coast Audubon Society (MCAS) stepped in, asking the California Wildlife Conservation Board to preserve Sweet Springs. In the meantime, property holders the Morro Palisades Company applied for permits to build a hotel there. When the public resisted, the MPC eventually gave up on the hotel, donating 24 acres to the State Coastal Conservancy. This essentially established the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. The State Coastal Conservancy donated Sweet Springs to the Morro Coast Audubon Society, which opened the preserve to the public in 2002. MCAS acquired another 8 acres in 2008, which opened in 2017 as Sweet Springs East.
Sweet Springs Aerial View
Aerial views of The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve

Bird watching at Sweet Springs

Bird watching is a highlight of any visit to Sweet Springs. The preserve lies along the Pacific Flyway, a superhighway for at least one billion birds that migrate between Alaska and Patagonia. And while Sweet Springs sees more than its fair share of visiting birds, local species also abound. In total, since the 1990s, birders have recorded a total of 350 species of birds at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. Migratory waterfowl species seen here include blue-winged teal, brand, northern shovelers, long-billed curlews, black-bellied plovers, and sandpipers. Many species stop here for the safety the preserve provides for breeding. These include red-tailed hawks, California quail, great-horned owls, and white-crowned sparrows. For more information on visiting species, check the bird watching board next to Sweet Springs’ observation deck.
Sweet Springs Observation Deck
The observation deck is ideal for bird watching

Endangered species at Sweet Springs

As its name states, the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve seeks to protect the natural abundance and life of its 32 acres of open space. With that in mind, visitors to the preserve should plan to be hands-off with wildlife, and extremely mindful of their impact here. Habitat loss and invasive species have endangered several species at Sweet Springs, all of which the Morro Coast Audubon Society seeks to protect. These include, notably, the Morro shoulderband snail. Endemic to California’s Central Coast, this snail has been listed as a federal critically endangered species since 1994. The Morro Coast Audubon Society has made special efforts to rehabilitate the Morro shoulderband snail; check signs on the trail for more information. Other endangered species at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve include the Cooper’s Hawk, silvery legless lizard, and Morro blue butterfly. Check our Wildlife Viewing Tips for ways to enjoy your visit while respecting and preserving Sweet Springs’ wildlife.
Sweet Springs Nature Preserve Trail
Walk along the protected pathways of the preserve

Nearby Activities

Montana de Oro State Park

Once you’ve visited this 8,000-acre, sprawling state park, you’ll understand why people come back to it again and again. Hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride on miles of trails, across sandy dunes, over seaside cliffs and through eucalyptus forests. Surfing, kayaking, and picnic are also popular here. Don’t miss the historic Spooner House, which once sheltered cattle ranchers where the state park stands today.
Bluff hike at Montana De Oro State Park in Los Osos, CA
Scenic views of Montana de Oro State Park

Los Osos Oaks State Reserve

The oak trees that spread across this 90-acre coastal dune habitat date back as far as 800 years. Their limbs, branches, and trunks are gnarled, long, and expansive, offering a natural playground for visitors to enjoy. Three trails wind through the reserve, totaling 1.5 miles through this quiet, ancient oak forest.
Los Osos Oaks
The tree lined trails of the Los Osos Oaks State Reserve

Elfin Forest

The Elfin Forest stands on the northeast end of Los Osos Baywood Park, facing onto the Morro Bay National Estuary. The forest is so named after its tiny elfin oak trees, whose growth has been stunted from hundreds of years growing in the Los Osos dunes. Visitors enjoy a one-mile ADA-accessible boardwalk, with platforms for viewing the estuary’s abundant bird population.
Elfin Forest
Enjoy these Elfin Oaks at one of the many viewing areas around the forest

Kayaking the Estuary

Bring or rent a kayak and paddle your way across the Morro Bay National Estuary, a treasure of natural splendor in Los Osos Baywood Park. Your trip might take you to the sandspit beach where soft dunes roll for miles before tumbling into the Pacific Ocean. Or perhaps you’ll want to see otters around the bend toward Morro Bay, or paddle past the oyster farms that lie here. Terrific bird watching opportunities abound across the estuary, and the waters are calm enough for family fun.
Kayak Los Osos
Taking the kayaks out to explore the Estuary

#SweetSpringsNaturePreserve

[post_title] => The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sweet-springs-nature-preserve [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-09-14 12:43:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-09-14 20:43:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=134843 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 134434 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-08-12 16:34:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-13 00:34:52 [post_content] => Fun in the sun? Absolutely. When it comes to having a good time, Avila Beach parks offer the best possible conditions. The average temperature in this quaint beachfront town ranges between a comfortable 64 degrees F and 72 degrees F. The white sands of the beach are always close by, with attractions like surfing, swimming, fishing, barbecuing and sunbathing. Consider a park in Avila Beach as your base camp for family fun, or a secondary spot to play the day away. Have a swashbuckling adventure in a pretend pirate ship or play a pickup basketball game to the sound of rolling waves. Purchase provisions for an impromptu dinner at the Avila Beach Farmers’ Market, and picnic at the park. Very few seaside towns have such accessible, beautifully designed spaces open to the public, just steps from the sand. Keep the young and the young-at-heart entertained all day long, close to the Avila Beach Pier and Promenade.

Explore Avila Beach

https://youtu.be/Clo-wLOmOO4

Pirates Park on Avila Beach

Ahoy, matey! The Pirate Park in Avila Beach is the only pirate-themed park in the region, and a favorite with local kids and their grownups. Enjoy a play structure built for little rapscallions as well as a structure built for older ones. Kids can climb, crawl, swing, hang, shimmy and slide on these play structures to their hearts’ content. There’s also a pirate ship fort, complete with a crow’s nest and a bridge underneath. Sand surrounds these structures, making for a soft landing, while a comfy lawn surrounds the whole park. Bring lunch, dinner, a snack or ice cream to the picnic tables, or spread out a blanket on the grass. The park also includes a full-sized basketball court, restrooms, showers, and vending machines — all of this mere feet from the beach. For access to family-friendly marine creatures, check out the Central Coast Aquarium, located at the other end of the lawn. The Avila Beach Pier, and Promenade lie nearby, too, where you can indulge in ice cream, rent boogie boards, and shop.
Avila Beach Pirates Park
A day of play at Pirates Park in beautiful Avila Beach

#AvilaBeachParks

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Avila Beach consistently lands on anglers’ bucket lists for good reason: the fishing and the views are excellent here. For those without a watercraft, two piers invite anglers of all ages and abilities to drop a line. Rockfishing in this area is also particularly good, for those willing to reach the prime spots. Kayakers will appreciate the easy access to quiet waters where halibut, salmon, and even coastal steelhead migrate. (Coastal steelhead, however, are a protected species.) For those with their own fishing vessel, salmon, albacore, and long range rock cod can be found further out in the deep sea. And for those looking to charter a boat or take a fishing tour, local company Patriot Sportfishing offers expert guidance. (They also sell fishing licenses on Harford Pier.) In the meantime, enjoy the stunning scenery in and around San Luis Bay, with its historic piers and lighthouse, salty air and sunshine. All fishing opportunities lie close to the quaint seaside town of Avila Beach and all its charms, too.

Explore Avila Beach Fishing

https://youtu.be/Z_IkNyPhnwE

Pier fishing in Avila Beach

The small town of Avila Beach boasts three piers, each with its own rich history. Each is located in close proximity to food, shopping and playgrounds — everything a family could need to stay entertained all day. Remember that fishing off California piers does not require a license, making it possible for anyone to try their hand at the sport. Common catches here include surfperch and white croaker, though schools of queenfish and small leopard sharks can be found in some springtime months. For catching surfperch, expert anglers recommend baiting with bloodworms, pile worms, sand crabs, ghost shrimp, and fresh mussels. For catching white croakers, anchovies are the bait of choice. Be aware that San Luis Obispo Creek feeds into the ocean just north of the Avila Beach Pier, which has been known to support steelhead trout. These are a protected species and must be released if caught.

Avila Pier Photo Courtesy of @kevinmanning

Fishing Avila Pier & Fishing Port San Luis’ Harford Pier

These two piers support a thriving fishing community of locals and visitor anglers alike. Bait and tackle can be purchased on either/both piers; restrooms and dining are available close by to each as well. Look to the Harford Pier, built in 1871, for a more commercial or serious fishing environment, less crowded and less touristed. Common catches here include mackerel, perch, rockfish, sardines, and jacksmelt. Harford Pier stands in Port San Luis Harbor, offering a bait and tackle shop as well as public fish cleaning stations. Note also that the Harford Pier is one of only a handful of driveable piers in the U.S., and has fairly plentiful parking. The Avila Beach Pier sees many tourists in the high season, and is thus a little trickier to navigate; parking can be tough. The end of the Avila Pier is closed, but fishing inshore (on the first third of the pier) can yield barred and surf perch.

Fishing Cal Poly Pier

Located between the Harford Pier and the Avila Beach Pier lies the Cal Poly Pier, the university’s educational marine research facility. It was originally built in 1914 by the Pacific Coast Railway Company and was later leased by Union Oil, or Unocal. Connected to San Luis Obispo by a narrow gauge railway, it made Avila Beach the world’s largest shipping port for crude oil. When standard gauge rail lines became the norm, the Pacific Railway Pier lost productivity. Union Oil purchased the pier in 1941, and became a significant oil port for the U.S. Navy during World War II. It remained important in the oil industry until a storm took the pier down in 1983. Unocal rebuilt it — this time with steel and concrete — and gifted it to Cal Poly’s College of Science and Mathematics in 2001. As such, the pier is private and not available for fishing.

Rock Fishing in Avila Beach

The most popular area for rock fishing in Avila Beach lies southeast of downtown, at Mallagh Landing. This rocky outcropping served as a natural pier for Native Americans living and fishing here long before European settlers arrived. (It also acted as a hidden port for smuggling booze during the Prohibition.) Multiple water caves also welcome anglers looking to rock fish. Access this area from Highway 101 by taking Avila Beach Drive to Cave Landing Road, about 1 mile inland from the beach. From the dirt parking lot at the end of Cave Landing Road, walk the Pirates Cove - Mallagh Landing trail. This will bring you about half a mile down to the rocks. Much of the terrain is very steep cliffs and rack faces leading down to the prime rockfishing area. Hiking shoes are a must here; exercise good judgement and be cautious. Also, be aware that Pirate’s Cove is a clothing-optional beach.

The rocky shoreline along Avila Beach

Kayak Fishing in Avila Beach

Kayak anglers, rejoice: launching your rig from Avila Beach is as easy as can be, for multiple reasons. For one, the surf and swell are almost always manageable, even for the least experienced kayaker to pass over. For another, Avila Beach provides several handy launching spots. For open-water kayaking, head to the main beach at the Avila Beach Pier, and push off directly from the sand. For access to a variety of kelp beds and caves, paddle south toward Mallagh Landing/Pirates Cove and Shell Beach. This is an easier launch point than attempting to do so from the Mallagh Landing-Pirates Cove beach. There, you’ll discover plenty of visible kelp beds and rock fishing close to the beach. (You may also find nude sunbathers, as this is a clothing-optional beach, remember.) Alternatively, the area north of Avila Beach around Port San Luis makes it easy to put in with ramps and boat launches. This zone is also much more accessible by car, where you can park mere feet from the water, untie your kayak, and paddle.

Kayak Fishing
Setting out for a day of kayak fishing

Deep Sea Fishing

Exploring the deepest areas off the Pacific coast is one of the great benefits of fishing Avila Beach. With the help of experienced anglers, it’s possible to catch the beautiful ling cod, rock cod, and salmon that populate these waters. Patriot Sportfishing has an office in Avila Beach on Harford Pier in Port San Luis. They specialize in rock cod fishing at up to 300 feet and offer trips from Avila Beach in half, three-quarter and full-day increments. Depending on how much time you have, these trips can travel locally in Avila and Shell Beach, or further away. Choices include boating to Point Sal in Santa Maria, Point Purisima in Lompoc and Point Buchon in Montana De Oro State Park. Choose from long-range rockcod, albacore, and salmon trips; sometimes Patriot Sportfishing includes crab and sand dabs trips, as well. Call to book a trip on one of their three vessels: The Patriot, The Flying Fish, or The Phenix. Call to book a trip, or visit the Patriot Sportfishing store for tackle, rods and reels, hats, apparel, and annual California sportfishing licenses. Patriot Sportfishing also offers whale watching and nature cruises, both as trips and as charters.

Reeling it in out at sea

Surf Fishing in Avila Beach

While Avila Beach is definitely a fishing town, finding successful surf fishing spots can be tough. Much of this is owing to the fact that Avila Beach sees a lot of activity from people swimming along its shoreline. These are typically conducive conditions for surf fishing. The surf here is also notoriously small — good for young swimmers and new surfers, but not so for those wanting to fish from shore. That being said, surf perch are occasionally available on the southernmost and northernmost parts of Avila’s shoreline. Head to the southern edge of Avila Beach, where less people are swimming, or to Olde Port Beach in Port San Luis. These are your best bet for finding that perch you’re wanting to take home. Local anglers recommend baiting with sand crabs, grubs, and/or gulp sandworms. And if you don’t catch anything to eat? Head to the Custom House, Ocean Grill, or Mersea’s for expertly-prepared seafood, no rod or reel required.

Surf Fishing Cayucos
Surf fishing the Avila Beach shore

#FishHwy1

[tide-table] [post_title] => Fishing Avila Beach [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fishing-avila-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-11 17:58:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-12 01:58:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=134422 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 134343 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-08-04 17:07:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-05 01:07:09 [post_content] => With sunshine, surf, sand, and salty air, Avila Beach feels a lot like a perfect, tucked-away paradise. Sweeten the deal — literally! — with delicious cuisine, and Avila Beach becomes downright irresistible. Fortunately for travelers of all tastes and budgets, Avila Beach offers some of the freshest dining around. Splurge on a multi-course candlelit dinner or enjoy a slice of pizza right on the beach as the sun goes down. Taste your way through several wine tasting rooms along Avila’s downtown corridor, or indulge in a cone of shaved ice. This is a town with several faces and several kinds of cuisine. If you hang around Port San Luis, you’ll see fishing boats hauling in fresh seafood, fishers fileting their catch, and seafood restaurants. In and around Avila Pier, you’ll see a variety of beachy eateries, wine bars, cafes and seafront dining. And in the Avila Valley, among the sycamore trees, rustic delicatessens and farm stands meet resort-style cuisine. It doesn’t take long to discover the many flavors of this beachfront paradise.

Discover Dining in Avila Beach

https://youtu.be/fuR_kPFjTSc

Custom House

This beloved restaurant was once the “Old” Custom House for the official Port of Entry for California at San Luis Bay. Built in 1927, the Custom House saw many ships come to port until it retired. In 1971, the facility became the Custom House Restaurant, featuring fresh seafood, steaks, and cocktails served in a beachfront setting. Today, it’s known as a premium spot to watch the waves while dining on fresh local fare. Try the Custom House’s famous Bloody Mary, considered the best in the area by many locals. Lunch items focus on pub fare like burgers, nachos, salads, and sandwiches. For dinner, try an appetizer or two before indulging in a Blackened Ribeye, Teriyaki Mahi-Mahi, Fettuccine Alfredo or classic fish and chips. Indulgent desserts await the end of every meal, or just come in for starters and a glass of local wine, beer, or cocktails. The Custom House offers indoor and outdoor seating on their seaside patio — and dogs are welcome outdoors.
Custom House Avila Beach
The Custom House patio sits along the Avila Beach Promenade

Blue Moon Over Avila

The vibe at Blue Moon Over Avila feels similar to the south of France seaside, like Cannes or Marseilles. Bistro chairs, an ocean view, and of course the food and wine make this a destination for lovers of Mediterranean style. The menu rotates with seasonal and signature specialties, as well as local and imported wine and beer selections. (In fact, Blue Moon is known for its extensive European and international wine list.) Indulge in baked brie, baguettes, escargot, Salade Nicoise, Croque Monsieur  or Steak Au Poivre for a classic French experience. Or try a more California approach with a Blue Moon Avocado Toast or Blue Moon Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Grain Bowl. For happy hour, Blue Moon serves bites and beverages through the afternoon; profiteroles, sorbet, and macarons make for a sweet ending. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert, as well as brunch on the weekend.
Blue Moon Over Avila at sunset

Mersea’s Restaurant

You can’t get much closer to the ocean than Mersea’s Restaurant on the pier. Located directly on historic Harford Pier, Mersea’s sources seafood caught moments ago for your lunch, snack, or dinner. Specialties include fish and chips, New England and Manhattan clam chowder, oysters on the halfshell and fish tacos. The full bar offers fresh classic cocktails and signature creations. Little foodies will appreciate the children’s menu with hot dogs, fish ‘n chips, chicken strips and grilled cheese. But the best part about Mersea’s really is its location: you can’t find a better perch from which to watch the port. Take a seat on the patio with a glass of local beer or wine, and watch otters and seals play in the surf. Check out the boats as they bob on their anchors, or as they come in and go from the harbor. You might even get lucky enough to watch whales feeding in the bay! Alternatively, sit inside and enjoy the bright beachy vibes of the high-ceiling interior.
Mersea's Avila Beach
Picture perfect views at Mersea's restaurant on the pier

Fat Cats Cafe

For over a quarter-century, hungry diners have made their way to Fat Cats at the base of Harford Pier in Port San Luis. This is a familiar place where kids can be kids and appetites can be satisfied — buckle up for big burgers and breakfast, especially. At its heart, Fat Cats Cafe is really a diner, with something for everybody. (This just happens to be a diner with a killer ocean view!) Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Fat Cats offers the classics. Pick up French Toast and Eggs Benedict for breakfast, clam chowder, Oyster Po’Boys, crab cakes, burgers, fish tacos and more for lunch. The restaurant provides a nice wine and beer list, as well as a kids’ menu for the littles. If you have a “fat cat” at home, make it a pilgrimage! Bring a photo of your rotund feline for the restaurant’s famous wall of big kitties.
Fat Cat's Avila Beach
Fish tacos at Fat Cat's Cafe

Avila Market Restaurant & Mercantile

Situated on Front Street facing the beach, the Avila Market has been an Avila Beach institution for a century. Today, it remains an anchor on the downtown promenade, with a long list of deli options for breakfast and lunch with over 30 beers on tap. Tuck into a beach platter of calamari, fish, corn wheels, sweet potato fries and shrimp, or a slice of avocado toast. Grab pork belly, fish, carnitas or ahi tacos covered in slaw, jalapeno crema, cilantro and cotija cheese. And definitely do not miss the famous Splash Cafe clam chowder, served by the bowl. Downstairs on the lower level, the Market also contains Kravabowl, an acai bowl and smoothie shop. Choose from a series of signature acai bowl creations, or build your own. Kravabowl also offers kombucha, cold brew coffee, coconut water, and yogurt and grain/seed bowls. (The downstairs mercantile also carries beachy necessities like sunscreen, beach blankets, and more.)

Ocean Grill

The view from Ocean Grill is a little higher than that of the rest of Front Street, making it an awesome spot to catch an Avila Beach sunset. The restaurant specializes in steak, pasta and flatbreads alongside a curated list of local wine and beer. Open for dinner daily and happy hour on the weekends, this is a special place to bring a special someone. For happy hour, enjoy draft beers and wines by the glass, as well as flatbread pizzas and simple green salads. At dinner, choose from a selection of farm-to-table, ranch-to-table and ocean-to-table starters, salads, flatbreads and mains. Popular menu items include woodfired flatbreads from the outdoor pizza oven, Pan-Seared Scallops and Pork Belly, and the Grilled Flank Steak with Chimmichuri. Ocean Grill also offers several gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian dishes, and notes them on the menu. Dine in the glass-paneled dining room or outdoors on the heated and sheltered patio, year-round.
Ocean Grill Avila Beach
The front row ocean views of Ocean Grill

Mission Pizza

Located in the old cafe at the back of Custom House, this eatery feeds hungry locals and visitors alike. Look for pizza, toasted subs, loaded salads, fish and chips and clam chowder at this casual counter restaurant. The folks at Mission Pizza turn out 16 signature gourmet pizzas piled high with toppings. Favorite orders include the Mexicali with chorizo and jalapenos, the meat-loaded Butcher’s Block, and the Kitchen Sink — with everything! Order your pizza and bring it straight to the beach, along with a Garden Salad. Or check out Mission Pizza’s selection of oven-baked subs, including the Po’Boy, Spicy Chicken Ranch, and Italian sub with all the fixings. Wings, loaded fries, chowder and shrimp and chips round out the menu, offering something for everyone, and fast. Stop by for a slice or hang out for the whole pie, dine in or take out, sit inside or outside. This is a restaurant that provides a lot of choices.

Mr. Rick’s

Since 1992, Mr. Rick’s has been a hotspot of live music, cocktails, and casual fare, just a few steps from the sand. The restaurant has 16 beers on tap, including those from local breweries Firestone-Walker, Figueroa Mountain, Liquid Gravity and SLO Brew. For wine drinkers, a selection of local and regional wines are available by the glass. The bar turns out classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule, Pink Mermaid, and Mai Tai to sip along with the Avila Beach sunset. The food is simple and flavorful, featuring a menu of 1/2-pound Angus beef burgers and other hot and cold sandwiches. Here, beachy snacks and entrees like fish and chips, clam chowder, shrimp cocktail and fish tacos meet nachos, wings, jalapeno poppers and salads. Wander by on any evening and you’re likely to hear a live band play or a DJ spinning tunes. Or come for brunch on Sunday and enjoy the sounds of local acoustic guitarists strumming while you dine.

Gardens of Avila Restaurant

This wine country restaurant presents seasonal, fresh cuisine in a serene resort setting. Located at the historic Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, Gardens of Avila lies tucked into a hillside sycamore grove. The lush, leafy trees set the tone for this sensuous dining experience, served daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sycamore Mineral Springs sources produce, herbs and edible flowers from the one-acre chef’s garden on site. These fresh ingredients drive the cuisine, depending on what’s available in the garden. Indulge in a breakfast of Banana Pecan Pancakes, an Acai Yogurt Bowl, Eggs Benedict or Chilaquiles with fresh coffee or tea. Lunch might include Calamari Tempura, a Gourmet Grilled Cheese, or Steak Frites with a glass of coconut water or kombucha. And for dinner, pair a glass of wine, beer or cocktail with Osso Buco, Butternut Squash Gnocchi, or the Seafood Salad. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are noted on the menu. Take a seat in the comfortable fireside dining room or on the outdoor terrace. And don’t miss the daily happy hour, as well as Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Gardens of Avila Restaurant
The beautiful grounds of the Gardens of Avila Restaurant

Woodstone Marketplace

This unique and popular eatery lies about halfway through the Bob Jones Bike Trail, making this a natural stopover. Sit inside or on the leafy patio with one of Woodstone’s breakfast or lunch specialties, gourmet coffee drinks, wine or beer. Start or end an early ride with an espresso drink and a hearty breakfast burrito, quiche, or bagel and lox. Lunchtime at Woodstone Marketplace means creative seasonal dishes, like the Chicken Chutney Wrap, made with mixed greens, mango chutney, avocado and toasted almonds on a sundried tomato tortilla. Hot and cold sandwiches include the Woodstone Turkey-Cranberry and Philly Cheesesteak, and salads like the Cashew Pear and Seared Ahi Salad are favorites. Herbal tea, espresso drinks, fresh-brewed iced tea, beer and wine round out the selection of beverages on offer. (Also note that Woodstone carries a large selection of local, California and imported wines in the bottle shop.) Tip: If you’re in the area and looking for a hearty takeout dinner, consider grabbing one of Woodstone’s weekday dinner specials. These might include baby back ribs and scampi with pilaf and veggies, Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles and a salad, or other homestyle classics.
Woodstone Market Place Avila Beach
Woodstone Marketplace is just steps from the Bob Jones Trail

Avila Valley Barn

The Avila Valley Barn does so many things well, and just one of them is food. Located on their property, the downhome Chicken Shack and Smokehouse supplies hungry visitors with barbecue, fried chicken, and all the fixings. Tri tip sandwiches, Nashville hot chicken, slaw, mac and cheese, smoked artichokes, salads and more will satisfy even the most discriminating palate. Pick up food for the whole family (including family meal deals) and sit at the rustic picnic tables around the farm. This is a terrific place for kids to dine with their grownups, as they can meander around the property between bites. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, be sure to check out the corn roastery, where you can pick up a cob of roasted corn for your stroll. And nobody who visits the Avila Valley Barn can leave without sampling something from their famous bakery, like pies, crumbles and other delights. Pick up an ice cream cone at the Sweet Shoppe, take a hay ride or pony ride, feed the goats, and pick out a pumpkin or apple to take home. Dining at the Avila Valley Barn offers more than just a meal.
Stopping for a bite at The Avila Valley Barn

Mulligan’s Bar & Grill

Sure, maybe you have golf on your mind when you head over to the Avila Beach Golf Resort, but Mulligan’s Bar & Grill is worth a visit all on its own. This is the place for fun, friendship, and flavor before or after a round of golf — or not! Enjoy the spectacular views available from Mulligan’s, which is situated right on the Avila Lagoon and overlooks the golf course. The restaurant is defined by its casual, comfortable dining, like burgers, tacos, salads and sandwiches. Head in before your tee time for breakfast (served all day), and stay for lunch before another round. Mulligan’s offers a lively happy hour, with drink specials and appetizers, as well as live music on Sunday afternoons. Play the course — or skip the golf — and head in for a drink, a bite, and a relaxing setting, complete with fire pits, outdoor heaters and lawn games.

Ice Cream & Coffee Shops in Avila Beach

Big Al’s at the Beach

Everyone loves this cute Avila Beach shop for tasty beachside treats. Family owned and operated, Big Al’s at the Beach serves classic seaside snacks like fruit smoothies and frappuccinos. But Big Al’s is best known as one of the best authentic Hawaiian shave ice shops on Highway 1. You won’t find crushed ice and basic syrups here (#itsnotasnowcone). This is real Hawaiian shave ice, made with delicate ice shavings, authentic flavors, a scoop of ice cream inside and sweet cream drizzle. The shop offers 25 different syrups, all made from cane sugar and flown in from Hawaii. Build your own shave ice or choose from the shop’s signature creations like Lava Flow or Almond Joy. Big Al’s also makes Thai Ice Tea, boba, and organic coffee and espresso drinks using Joebella Roasters. Come in for a pick-me-up in the middle of a long day of sun and fun, or for dessert in the evening.

Kraken Coffee Company

“Beach vibes and coffee” is the tagline for this hip, young coffeehouse — a phrase that sums it up nicely. Kraken Coffee Company sits on a corner overlooking the Avila Beach shoreline, with some outdoor seating to take advantage of the views. Indoor seating includes an upstairs loft with counter seating that looks down over the baristas, plus tables and chairs. Enjoy the style of this place, with its dark walls, massive octopus mural and obscure sea creature paintings. The menu features Kraken’s own-roasted coffee and espresso, house-baked pastries, Batch ice cream and kombucha. Locals rave about the quality of the cappuccinos, lattes, mochas and chai, as well as nitro cold brew and nitro iced tea. Bring the coffee experts in your life to Kraken Coffee Company; they will appreciate it.

Hula Hut

The Hula Hut has been an Avila Beach institution since 2007, offering “world-famous Hula Hut fudge,” ice cream, and casual dining. The ambiance is beachy and relaxed, with a vibe reminiscent of a Hawaiian coffee shop. The Hula Hut serves breakfast and lunch daily, plus coffee and Doc Burnstein’s ice cream for between meals and sweet endings. Favorite orders include Waffles, the Clam Chowder Bread Bowl, Chile Verde Burrito, Pork Tamales and Fish Tacos. The diversity of the Hula Hut doesn’t stop at its menu, though. Look for a thriving boutique section with souvenirs, jewelry, and art pieces to take a little bit of Avila home with you. Stay for a full meal or browse the boutique and grab coffee and chocolates or candy for a beach walk. But at the very least, pick up a hunk of Grandma Lizzie’s fudge, available in flavors like Orange Swirl and Vanilla Amaretto Almond. The shop provides indoor and outdoor seating that faces out toward Front Street and the Avila Beach shoreline.
Hula Hut Avila Beach
The Hula Hut in the heart of downtown Avila Beach

Beer & Wine Tasting in Avila Beach

PierFront Wine & Brew

Located right on the beach, PierFront offers a robust selection of local and international wines and beers in a laid-back, comfortable setting. This wine bar has something for everyone thanks to a lengthy wine and beer list that is always growing and changing. Expect to find three rotating taps, 30+ bottles of beer in a range of styles, plus ciders, hard root beer, and nonalcoholic beer. Wine lovers have even more choices at PierFront, where the cellar contains 90 wines of all different origins. Choose a bottle to share in PierFront’s cozy indoor “living room” or sit outside on the patio. PierFront also serves appetizers and chocolate pairings, and provides board games and, often, live music for visitors to enjoy. The menu changes rapidly to keep things interesting, and the owners and servers are knowledgeable and warm. They’ll even help you find a bottle of wine or beer to take back to your lodging, as well as the appropriate glasses and a chocolate treat.

The Libertine Brewing Company

The specialty at Libertine Brewing Company is wild ales or “sours.” If sours are your passion, you’ll be very content here, but even if they’re not, you’ll have other options, too. Libertine began ten years ago on the Morro Bay Embarcadero to cater to adventurous beer drinkers. They brew in an open-top tank called a coolship that allows wild, ambient yeast to ferment the beer, rather than commercial yeast. Much like wild yeast sourdough, Libertine beers are closely linked to the place they’re brewed by way of those native yeasts. Why not stop in for a pint or two to get to know Avila Beach a bit better? Enjoy a rotating set of 12 taps that highlight Libertine’s wild ales as well as their non-sour collaborative offerings. Want to explore? Order a flight. Want to commit? Take home a crowler. The addition of old school video games and vinyl on the turntable only sweetens the deal.

Alapay Cellars Tasting Room

Winemaker Scott Remmenga opened Alapay Cellars in 2001, and since then it has become the largest winery in Avila Beach. The winery’s name means “heavenly” in the language of the indigenous people who lived here first. The goal to make heavenly wine here has been fulfilled many times over, through the years. The winery sources fruit from Paso Robles to the Santa Ynez Valley and produces a variety of styles. From sparkling to white, red to dessert wine, Alapay offers a wealth of options to taste and to buy at the tasting room. Visit their spacious shop in Avila Beach to experience Alapay’s “wine tasting without attitude.” (The tasting room houses two large saltwater aquariums that are, alone, worth the price of a tasting!) Just a few steps from the beach, you can taste Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and more, possibly poured by Scott himself. Most tastings include two white wines, six reds, and two dessert wines. Tastings are complimentary with the purchase of wine.
Alapay Cellars wine tasting room

Avila Wine & Roasting

A few steps from the beach, this wine tasting bar stocks wines from the Central Coast, Northern California, Oregon, Washington and beyond. Whether you know your way around a wine list or wine is a totally new adventure, Avila Wine & Roasting has much to share. Visitors have the option to taste through a curated flight of favorite wines or wines that are showing particularly well. The expert staff can walk you through each of the wines, sharing information about its origins, style, and winemakers. Avila Wine & Roasting offers red, white, sparkling and dessert wines at a wide variety of price points. Come in, learn about a wine, then enjoy a glass of it on the stone patio facing out toward the beach. Or, if caffeine is more your speed at the moment, try Avila Wine & Roasting’s epicurean coffees, roasted locally specifically for them. Buy a cup or pick up a pound of beans as a delicious reminder of your time in Avila Beach.

Peloton Cellars

Avila Beach wine tasting rooms have become one of the town’s greatest attractions in part thanks to producers like Peloton Cellars. A small brand with a very loyal following, Peloton brings top-notch food-friendly wines to the Central Coast. The winery began as a project between four cycling buddies who wanted to find locally-made wines that paired with simple to spectacular food. When they couldn’t find anything quite right, they decided to do it themselves, led by winemaker Bill Kesselring. The result is a winery, named after a pack of cyclists, that produces lean, elegant wines from cool climate Central Coast vineyards. Some of Peloton’s signature varietals include Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Come in to taste the fresh acidity of these wines, perfect for anything from hamburgers to osso buco, any night of the week. For a fee, taste through a selection of current releases, or order a glass of your favorite to sip alongside charcuterie and appetizer options. The cycling theme, the wine, and the beachfront location work together to make this a fun, relaxing and educational experience.
Pouring a glass at Peloton Cellars

Sinor-LaVallee Tasting Room

For years, Mike Sinor worked his way through most of the wineries on the Central Coast, both in the cellar and in the field. He fell in love with Pinot Noir, specifically from Burgundy, and even honeymooned in Burgundy with his new bride, Cheri LaVallee. Decades later, the two of them launched their own label, Sinor-LaVallee, purchasing Bassi Vineyard, which lies just 1.2 miles from the Avila Beach coastline. The effect of the ocean on their wines can’t be overstated, and is as much a player in each bottle as the grapes themselves. At the tasting room, look for elegant Pinot Noir, crisp Albarino, Chardonnay and Syrah. Taste the wines by themselves, or pair them with Sinor-LaVallee’s fresh oysters, available for purchase daily on a first come, first served basis. Sinor-LaVallee invites visitors to bring their oysters to the “Shuck Shack” behind the tasting room to slurp with a glass of wine. (You can even purchase an oyster knife and shucking gloves in the tasting room.)
Sinor-LaVallee Wine Avila Beach
Enjoying a tasting at Sinor-Lavallee

Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards

Tucked back from the coastline, Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards is a delightful hideaway on a backcountry road in the picturesque See Canyon. This part of Highway 1 might be best known for its apple production, but Kelsey See Canyon proves that winegrapes can thrive here, too. The winery property offers a cozy tasting room and spacious outdoor area that’s kid- and dog-friendly. Lay a picnic out on the lawn and grab a bottle or glass of your favorite Kelsey See Canyon wine to enjoy. (Often, the weather here is even sunnier and warmer than on the coast in Avila Beach proper.) Specialties include the estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as hard apple cider and even apple wine. Each wine and its label show a love for the ocean and beach culture. Don’t miss Kelsey See Canyon’s casual outdoor music events, or their 200+ peacocks on the property. You may even find a peacock feather!

#EatAvilaBeach

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At Cayucos Picnic Co. we work with you to make your picnic special. From a surprise proposal on the beach with added rose petals and photographer to a "just because" sunset picnic in your own backyard with cookies and milk! Make sure to check out our list of add-on's to take your picnic to the next level and if you don't see what you want, just let us know and we will do our best to make it happen!

When you book Cayucos Picnic Co. our picnic crew will set up your luxury picnic prior to your arrival then send you a location pin with directions to your exact picnic spot. We return after 1.5 hours to pack and clean everything up. All you need to do is arrive and enjoy the experience!

[post_title] => Cayucos Picnic Co. [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cayucos-picnic-co [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-03 12:11:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-03 20:11:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=134329 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 134229 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-07-22 14:34:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-07-22 22:34:55 [post_content] => Avila Beach feels like paradise, and not only for its white sand beaches and other natural wonders — it’s a shopper’s paradise as well. Though downtown Avila Beach comprises just a few square blocks near the Avila Pier, these contain a wide assortment of storefronts. Deep into the sycamore forest of the Avila Valley, a rural and rustic selection of shops delights customers of all ages and interests. These two areas make for diverse shopping opportunities, from designer swimwear and fine wine to pies and vintage-style toys. Best of all, every storefront in Avila Beach is privately and/or family owned. You won’t find any chain stores here — just boutique, mom-and-pop shops with unique products and excellent service. Near the pier, businesses especially cater to beach bums, offering a wide variety of sunglasses, sandals, and swim suits. Beach towels, goggles, umbrellas and sand toys can also be found easily here.

Shopping in Avila Beach

https://youtu.be/FQtWRW58EaI

Under the Sea Gallery

Love the beach, the water, and coastal living? Under the Sea Gallery features all things ocean for you and the sea creatures in your life. The gallery’s goal for customers is that they would “find what you love, love what you find.” The shop carries a wide variety of products to enhance your home, garden, and self-care routine. Choose from a selection of scented soaps and lotions like products from Finchberry and Mermaid Rock, a local soapmaker in Cayucos. Polished crystals shine throughout the gallery; some crystals are even inside the body products, as is the case with Essential Elements essential oils. Other products like sage smudges, Celtic Harmony candles, and The Naked Bee lip balms can be the perfect little treat to bring home. Under the Sea Gallery specializes in fantasy and fun, with specialty pool floaties, whimsical home goods, and items for the kids. They even carry clothing, sandals, and jewelry. Don’t miss the wide selection of garden art as well, featuring mermaids, pelicans, and more.
Under The Sea Gallery Avila Beach
The enchanting entrance to the Under the Sea Gallery

Hats Unlimited

This popular spot carries over 10,000 hats in a multitude of styles at its Avila Beach location. Started in 1994, Hats Unlimited is a family-owned business specializing in all different sorts of hats. Find cowboy hats, trendy hats, beanies and cold weather hats, fedoras and more. Hard-to-size head? Bring it down to Hats Unlimited, where experienced salespeople know how to take your measurements correctly. Men, women and children can get excited about bucket hats, newsboy styles, visors, outdoor hats, straw hats, baseball caps, and many other styles. This is especially helpful during a vacation to Avila Beach, where the sun and its reflection in the waves can cause sun damage. The shop even carries fancy Kentucky Derby hats and fascinators for your next fun, formal occasion. Pick up a new hat (or a few) with help from the people at Hats Unlimited, and leave with a brand new look.

Reimer’s Candies, Gifts & Ice Cream

Sun, sand, and surf have a way of making people crave ice cream and sweets, and the conditions in Avila Beach are no exception. Before, during or after a fun day at the beach, head to Reimer’s Candies, Gifts & Ice Cream to satisfy that sweet tooth. If you’re nervous about finding the shop, just follow your nose: the scent of freshly made waffle cones is a dead giveaway. Choose from an array of ice creams made right there at Reimer’s, with flavors like Salted Chocolate, Birthday Cake, and The California Turtle. The shop also offers candies, fudge and chocolates made the old fashioned way, with high quality ingredients and tried-and-true methods. Choose from over 80 varieties of chocolates as well as licorice, sours, peanut brittle, and chews. Cotton candy, lollipops and seasonal candies for Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and the winter holidays make the perfect treat for someone special. And don’t miss the games, toys, gifts and other items that make Reimer’s such a special spot on the coast.
Reimer's Candy Avila Beach
Reimer's delectable candy counter display

Bolt About Bikes

Everybody loves to ride a bike — especially along the sun-soaked coastline of Avila Beach. And Bolt About Bikes makes it easier than ever to enjoy a bike ride with their rentable e-bikes and scooters for the whole family. If you’ve never tried an e-bike before, you will be pleasantly surprised by its gentle assistance and smooth ride. Electric scooters make for a zippy, safe way to explore Avila Beach, from the seaside to the beautiful Bob Jones Trail. E-bikes for adults and kids, scooters, and bike trailers for carrying children can be rented by the day or by the hour. And if you love your experience on a Bolt About rental, you may even decide to buy one. Talk to your Bolt About sales person to explore purchasing e-bike and e-scooter brands like iZip, Bird, Segway, Bulls and Electric Bike Company. In the meantime, book your rental online or in the store; walk-ins are welcome but reservations ensure availability.

Footseas

The fun, brightly-painted shop on the downtown promenade in Avila Beach is none other than Footseas, an apparel outlet right on the beach. Footseas specializes in sandals for the whole family. Look for hundreds of flip flop varieties, with surf brands like O’Neill, Flojos, Reef, Scott Hawaii and Ocean Minded. Others include comfort-forward, stylish sandal brands Oka’b, Fit Flops, Switch Flops, and Bernardo. For chillier weather and winter days, Footseas even carries Aussie Dogs, flip flops made with Australian Sheepskin to warm your tootsies. Other styles of sandals and accessories can also be found here for men, women and children, as well as apparel. Treat yourself to a new outfit that’s comfortable, stylish and ready for the beach. Pick up jewelry, scarves, hats, tops and jeans by favorite brand Fresh Produce. Of course, no ensemble is complete without just the right handbag; Footseas has you covered there, too. Peruse their extensive purse selection to find yourself just the right finishing touch.
Footseas in downtown Avila Beach

The Sea Barn

Finding quality, durable and well-fitted swimwear can be a tough task, but The Sea Barn in Avila Beach makes it a real pleasure. The Sea Barn has spent decades outfitting men, women and children in expertly-made swimwear from the industry’s best brands. Whether you’re looking for a designer suit for your vacation, board shorts for your kids or  trunks for Dad, the Sea Barn can help. For women, the well-organized, clean boutique carries swimsuit brands like Becca, Roxy, De La Mar, Vix, Billabong, Speedo, and Point Conception. For men, year-round options include O’Neill, Quiksilver and Billabong. But swimwear isn’t the only perk of visiting The Sea Barn. Fill all your beachy needs with sandals from Cobian, Reef, Ocean Minded, O’Neill, Flojos, and Roxy. Towels, sand toys, floaties, beach chairs, sunscreen and more can be picked up for your day in the waves. The Sea Barn also offers an array of designer brand sunglasses like Maui Jim, Ray Ban, Spy, Hoven, Arnette, Von Zipper, and Kaenon. This sister store to Beachcomber Bill’s also rents bodyboards and wetsuits.
The Sea Barn Avila Beach
The Sea Barn's colorful storefront

Beachcomber Bill’s

In the early 1970s, a local craftsman began making flip flops with neoprene soles called Beachcomber Bills. The sandals became hugely popular and the brand was eventually sold, but the name remains on the building where they were made in Avila Beach. Today, the storefront carries everything a beach traveler needs. Pick from all the best souvenirs, like Avila Beach tees, sweatshirts, caps, picture frames, shot glasses, magnets, keychains, postcards and tote bags. Kids will love the assortment of fun trinkets to peruse, and parents will appreciate having access to much-needed beach gear. Pick up flip flops and sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen, googles, boogie boards and skimboards, beach towels, sand toys and buckets for sandcastles. The shop also features the brand Life is Good, which highlights good vibes and extreme comfort. Pop in for something specific or just come to browse. There’s always something at Beachcomber Bills to enhance your stay in Avila Beach.

Avila Wine and Roasting

Located at the corner of San Miguel Street and 1st Street, Avila Wine and Roasting is a well-stocked wine store and wine tasting bar. Whether you’re a wine expert, casual drinker or complete beginner, Avila Wine and Roasting offers a fun, educational experience. Stop in after a day at the beach to taste this shop’s selection of quality, small production wines from across the Central Coast. Avila Wine and Roasting also carries hard-to-find wines from across the west, like Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Taste through a flight or buy a glass or a bottle to enjoy on the stone laid patio, just steps from the seashore. Or take that bottle of red, white or dessert wine to go to give as a gift or bring to a party. The helpful, knowledgeable staff can help find the right style for you, at the right price point. And don’t miss wine-related merchandise and local artwork, as well as Avila Wine and Roasting’s proprietary coffee beans, roasted locally.

Alapay Cellars

In 2001, winemaker Scott Remmenga opened Alapay Cellars, a winery that specializes in quality red, white and sparkling wine, aged in French oak barrels. Alapay, which means heavenly in the language of the Central Coast’s earliest inhabitants, produces wine from small lots in nearby vineyards. These premium locations span from the Santa Ynez Valley at the south to Paso Robles wine country at the north. Remmenga, a former graphic designer, once printed wine labels for winery clients throughout the region. Eventually, he became a winemaker himself, producing white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and reds like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Alapay draws about 5000 cases per year, the majority of which is sold through the Avila Beach tasting room. There, visitors can experience tasting flights for a fee, just a few steps away from the sand and surf. Scott and his wife Rebecca pride themselves on offering “wine tasting without the attitude” in their spacious, ocean-themed tasting room. Don’t miss the tasting room’s curated gift shop that offers locally made goods and branded apparel.
Wine Tasting at Alapay Cellars

Peloton Cellars

Given the presence of the picturesque Bob Jones Bike Trail and so many cycling opportunities in and around Avila Beach, a cycling-themed winery makes sense. This boutique producer specializes in lean, elegant wines — much like the bicycles featured on each bottles’ label. The French word “peloton” refers to a pack of cyclists in a race, and is a fitting name for a winery started by four longtime friends who love cycling. Whether it’s Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, Albarino or Cabernet Sauvignon, Peloton’s wines originate in cool climate Central Coast vineyards. The resulting wines maintain acids that make each bottle perfect for pairing with food. The tasting room, opened in 2010, offers tasting flights of these food-friendly wines, as well as wine by the glass. Enjoy the relaxed vibe, enjoy local wines, and hang with your very own “peloton” here in Avila Beach.
The charming entryway to Peloton Cellars

Central Coast Aquarium

While this “boutique aquarium” is reason enough to pay a visit to Avila Beach, its gift shop offers a wealth of fun buys, especially for budding marine biologists. After viewing the octopus and tiny jellyfish, and perhaps feeding (and touching!) the sharks, head to the gift shop. Here, you’ll find merchandise curated specifically for the Central Coast Aquarium experience that goes above and beyond. The helpful, knowledgeable staff can assist you in finding just the right gift for someone who loves undersea adventures. Choose ocean-themed stickers from an entire rack of fin, flipper and fish stickers. Check out the educational puzzles and ocean-centered games and books. Little ones will love stuffies like California sea otters, angel fish and turtles enough to open their own stuffy aquarium at home. Branded tote bags, magnets, umbrellas, toys and more complete the experience of a visit to this sweet spot on Avila Beach’s main drag.
Exploring the gift shop inside the Aquarium

Avila Valley Barn

Locals shop this rustic spot for everything from fresh produce and just-baked pies to children’s books and toys, kitchenware, cookbooks, and preserves. Located in the Avila Valley, near Sycamore Hot Springs and the Bob Jones Bike Trail, the Avila Valley Barn is an institution. Kids have come here to pet and feed the goats, take a hayride, and pick pumpkins for a generation. Open year-round, the Avila Valley Barn specializes in seasonal merchandise, including a wide variety of kitchen items and childrens’ toys. In addition to fresh peaches, apples, berries, cherries and other produce, the Barn offers a selection of dried fruits, nuts and snacks. These are extremely gift-able, along with vintage candies, fudge, chocolates and more in the “sweet shoppe.” Aprons, candles, soap, lotions, baking mixes and more make this a favorite stop for the whole family along Highway 1. Be sure to try the roasted corn, stare into the emu’s eyes, and take home a bundle of sunflowers.
Avila Valley Barn Shopping
Browsing through the Avila Valley Barn

Weekly Farmers Market

Note: this event is currently on hold until 2022 due to COVID precautions.

Some of the best shopping available in Avila Beach occurs on Friday nights on the Avila Beach promenade. In the warmer months, the Avila Beach Farmers’ Market gathers farmers, artisans, restaurants, and live music beneath the moon near the Avila Beach Pier. Enjoy a weekly street party, just a few feet from the warm white sand of the beach, complete with good food, good tunes, and good vibes. This is a favorite event worth planning your visit around. Pick up jewelry, artwork, soaps and lotions, olive oils and vinegars, knitted caps and more — all locally produced and sold at the Friday Farmers’ Market. This is also a great opportunity to pick up dinner from specialty food booths, or the makings of a picnic. Come early, tap your toes to live music, shop the market, and end with a picnic on the beach by the pier.

#ShopAvilaBeach

[post_title] => Shopping in Avila Beach [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => shopping-avila-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-07-22 14:34:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-07-22 22:34:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=134229 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 134204 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-07-21 15:50:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-07-21 23:50:43 [post_content] => Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley Parks are a family friendly destination with plenty of safe, fun opportunities for kids or pets to run, laugh and play. Spread a blanket in the grass, explore rugged terrain, partake in friendly fieldsports, or hit the playground for an afternoon of exploration. Whether you aim to get those wiggles out, want to enjoy a casual barbecue, or just take some time to appreciate a quiet slice of nature between stops, Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley Parks provide a scenic respite for everyone in the family to relax, recharge and have some fun. From rustic parks perfect for bird watching and picnicking to high-speed zip-lines, thrilling waterslides and enticing play structures, there's a family friendly park for every SLO County vacation.

Explore Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley

https://youtu.be/XWJRmtdJ0XA

Strother Park

Peaceful, yet full of opportunities to break a sweat, Strother Park is a great choice for active kids of all ages or anyone looking to stretch their legs in a gorgeous creekside setting. Located adjacent to Arroyo Grande Creek at 1550 Huasna Road, this tree-studded oasis features thoughtfully-designed play structures geared towards both preschoolers and elementary aged children, as well as horseshoe pits, frisbee golf course, soft ball field, grass volleyball court and basketball courts. Looking to celebrate a birthday or other special event? Take your pick between three barbecue areas available for reservation: two small areas hold up to 40 people each and a large barbecue area holds up to 100. Whether your group is large or small, chances are you'll all appreciate the sprawling green grass, majestic oak trees, and fresh air of this naturally enchanting hangout.
Downtown Arroyo Grande Village
Ready to play in Arroyo Grande

Elm Street Park

Let the kids and dogs play while you relax in a picture perfect locale. Located at 1221 Ash Street in Arroyo Grande, Elm Street Park is popular among locals and visitors alike thanks to a unique combination of amenities sure to delight the whole family. Enjoy the area's only off leash dog park, a vibrant community garden, playground for the kids and a barbecue area available for reservation. A favorite stop for happy dogs of all breeds, the adjoining Elm Street Dog Park encourages your best friend to ditch the leash and leap, wag, and roam with other friendly four-legged friends. Pet owners can expect double-gated entries for safety, plenty of grassy areas to sniff, doggie fountains replenished with freshwater and shaded bench areas perfect for kicking back while the pups play. Looking for more fun for the whole family? Look no further than Soto Sports Complex, which conveniently shares a parking area with Elm Street Park. Home to four tennis courts, four pickle ball courts and several fields perfect for fans of baseball, softball and soccer, you could easily spend a few hours running, kicking and swinging the afternoon away.

Rancho Grande Park

For a truly idyllic afternoon with the kids, Rancho Grande Park can't be beat. Located at 500 James Way in Arroyo Grande, this sheltered hilltop park offers up a sunny hideaway perfect for frolicking and making friends. Featuring two play structures for both preschool and elementary school ages, your child will love to explore Rancho Grande Playground's twisty slide, monkey bars and swings, all situated on a soft, sandy floor. Plus, kiddos can simultaneously race each other thanks to three slides lined up together, a fun treat for friendly competitors. For the sportier folks, find a basketball court, sandy volleyball court, baseball diamond and horseshoe pit ready to inspire a casual game or two. Luckily, lunch isn't far away: just fire up the grill at Rancho Grande Park's three group barbecue areas available for rent. Don't forget to check out this park's unique sundial, offering up a fun learning and photo opportunity for your little ones.

Centennial Park & Gazebo

Wonderment awaits at Centennial Park & Gazebo, one of Arroyo Grande's beloved historical stops and a true must-experience destination for the whole family. Located at 200 Olohan Alley—just a stone's throw from the quaint and walkable Village of Arroyo Grande—this small yet celebrated park is home to an ancient swinging footbridge that towers 40 feet above scenic Arroyo Grande Creek. First built in 1875, this safe, reconstructed 171-foot-long bridge quivers with each step, providing an adventurous trek for kiddos and grown-ups alike. Feeling peckish? You're in the right place. Explore a swath of family friendly restaurants, bakeries and boutiques all conveniently located in the nearby “village,” as the locals call it. There's so much to see and do, but before you go, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for roaming wild chickens known to nest in the nearby trees. A stop at Centennial Park & Gazebo is incomplete without saying hello to these surprisingly friendly feathered friends.
Swinging Bridge, Arroyo Grande
The historic Swinging Bridge downtown Arroyo Grande

Biddle Regional Park

The wilderness comes alive at Biddle Regional Park in Arroyo Grande, home to a stunning Sycamore-Cottonwood forest and vibrant green belt. Tucked away just five miles east of Arroyo Grande at 3500 Lopez Drive, visitors of this unique destination enjoy picnicking at the park's tree-shaded picnic tables. Here, the rustic, ranch-like appeal that blends perfectly into the surrounding natural landscape. Explore the terrain while keeping an eye out for countless native birds or get a move on with a variety of fun outdoor activities. With five group day use areas as well as volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a large grass area suitable for plenty of field sports, there's something to entice everyone in your family. Note: Of the 47 acres that the park occupies, about 22 acres are developed. This means that although kids are welcome to explore the surrounding terrain, they should stay on designated paths and maintain a healthy respect for poison oak and native wildlife.

Mustang Water Park

Splash into adventure at Mustang Waterpark, which boasts two 600-foot-long waterslides, a waterslide halfpipe, a kiddie pool and shaded cabanas to accommodate everyone in the family. Located at 6840 Lopez Drive in Arroyo Grande near Lopez Lake, this popular waterpark is nestled along Arroyo Grande's quiet, oak studded hillsides, giving you the best of a peaceful natural setting and non-stop family fun. In fact, you can camp at an array of nearby campsites and enjoy the park, effectively supercharging your summer vacation. After you've worked up an appetite, hit the waterslide snack bar, well stocked with everything from hot dogs and nachos to salads and snow-cones. Got a birthday party coming up? Mustang Waterpark goes all out to make your kiddo feel special with a reserved party area for up to ten guests. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year in SLO County, it's always the perfect time for a dip (plus, summer temperatures are known to soar from the 80s and 90s into the triple digits). Although located just ten miles east of Arroyo Grande, Mustang Waterpark is a world away from daily life. With water slides, camping and lake sports at your fingertips, you'll find countless ways to say “wow.”

Vista Largo Adventurepark

With high-speed zip-lines positioned high above the hills and rugged adventure courses designed to test your strength, Vista Largo Adventurepark is a dynamic outdoor destination that combines action-packed family fun with the thrill of the great outdoors. Located at 6840 Lopez Drive in Arroyo Grande near Lake Lopez and lake sports and camping opportunities, this park is a must-stop destination for your next family outing. Take to the air with three high-flying zip-lines totaling 1,800-feet followed by a glass of local wine at the SipLine Bar, put your agility to the test as you fight your way through wobbly bridges, cargo net and tire bridge, or explore the park's four distinct courses depending on your skill level. With color coded courses tailored to your experience, you'll never worry about overdoing it: the yellow course is best for beginner-to-intermediate, green is best for intermediate, blue is best for advanced and black is best for those seeking the highest intensity challenge. Plus, friendly guides are there every step of the way to ensure you're maximizing and enjoying your journey. Ever wanted to jump from a towering cliff and land on your feet? The Adventurepark's Ledge Quick Jump allows thrill-seekers to free fall from a 45-foot-tall platform and land in perfect safety. Needless to say, this last obstacle isn't for the faint of heart.
Vista Lago Adventure Park
Cruising through the course at Vista Largo Adventurepark

Nearby Parks

Oceano Dunes State Park

An otherworldly dunescape awaits visitors of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, where endless bluffs roll onward toward the sea. Located at 100 Pier Ave. in Oceano, this is the only beach in California you can dive on, an exhilarating treat for all ages. Kick up some sand when you hop in an ATV or command your own vehicle along the surf. Follow up a day of heart-pumping fun with a family bonfire under the stars (leashed dogs welcome) or check out a range of casual, family friendly restaurants in nearby downtown Oceano. Also nearby, find Oso Flaco Lake, an enchanting beach stop that guides your family from forest and farmland to marsh to dunes, all while hundreds of species of birds soar overhead. Looking to ditch the daily grind? Pitch a tent at Oceano Park Campground and Lagoon, home to 22 campsites and a private pond for fishing.
Diving into the dunes in Oceano

The Pismo Preserve

Enjoy Pismo Beach as you’ve never seen it before--from the top of a hiking trail--when you make a trip to the stunning Pismo Preserve. At 880 acres of pure beauty, this pristine coastal hiking area offers up one of the most stunning and unique views in all of San Luis Obispo County. Located at 80 Mattie Road in Pismo Beach and open daily from dawn to dusk, enjoy over 11 miles of trail traversing serene oak woodlands and coastal ridgelines, including awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean stretching from the Irish Hills to Point Sal. Truly, there is no better place for a picnic or photo op than this! With trails suitable for equine enthusiasts, you can even ride horseback, if so inclined. With easier trails perfect for younger kids and more challenging terrain for teens and adults, you’ll experience your next family beach day in a whole new way. Tip: a secret camera positioned at one of the park’s many watering holes provides loads of fun when you log on to the preserve’s website. Deer, raccoons, mountain lions and even bears can be seen enjoying a bit of refreshment courtesy of the preserve’s natural spring water. Nearby in downtown Pismo Beach, find lots of family fun activities. Spend the day surfing, paddle boarding or exploring the Pismo Pier and boutique shops and restaurants. Kids will love the Monarch Butterfly Groves of Pismo Beach, a special sight to behold each winter. Watch in wonderment as nearly 230,00 Monarch Butterflies flutter in unison along the eucalyptus trees of Pismo State Beach.
Pismo Preserve Biking
Biking along the Pismo Preserve

#Hwy1Parks

[post_title] => Best Parks in Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => best-parks-in-arroyo-grande [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-07-21 15:54:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-07-21 23:54:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=134204 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 134168 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-07-19 09:57:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-07-19 17:57:20 [post_content] => Imagine a seaside community surrounded by a wealth of wildlife in its own habitat, and you’ve probably imagined a place like Avila Beach. The sound of waves crashing, birds singing, and seals barking is the soundtrack to any day spent here. All creatures great and small inhabit and travel through Avila Beach, from tiny hermit crabs to whales. Seeing some of these animals requires a little planning, while others are easily accessible any time and may even surprise you. Whether you’re adding species to your shorebird list, bringing your children to the tidepools, or swooning at the cuteness of sea otters, Avila Beach delivers. Just remember: this is their home. Particularly when it comes to tidepools, take care, as disturbing them is illegal. (For more ideas for how to tread lightly, see our Wildlife Viewing Tips.) Tidepools in Avila Beach are mostly in areas not easily accessible from shore, but kayaks can help. At low tide, bring your kayak or rent one to explore the harder-to-reach tidepools, as well as rock formations and caves. And if a more contained experience is more your speed, check out the Central Coast Aquarium, right downtown in Avila Beach. This boutique aquarium gives up-close access to jellyfish, small sharks, an octopus and more. Afterward, continue the adventure at the Pirate Park next door, the beach, and the pier.

Explore Tide Pools & Sea Life Along Highway 1

https://youtu.be/0wRtrnzwmFk[tide-table]

Pirate’s Cove Tide Pools

Tucked-away Pirate’s Cove was once the stomping grounds of Chumash Native Americans and, later, midnight moonshine smugglers. Today, it is the site of a clothing-optional beach — as well as an excellent variety of tidepools. (Consider these conditions before visiting, especially with children.) Anemones, crabs, sea stars and more can be found in the tide pools between the south shore of Avila Beach and Pirate’s Cove. Pirate’s Cove is also home to a number of interesting rock formations and caves. Many are not accessible from either Avila Beach or Pirate’s Cove, so you’ll need to get creative to see them. It’s possible to kayak from Avila Beach south to Pirate’s Cove, either with your own rig or a rental. Alternatively, hike down from the Pirate’s Cove parking lot (accessible from Cave Landing Road, just off Avila Beach Drive). Also, just slightly further south, in Shell Beach, there are huge expanses of tide pools accessible by stairs to the beach.
Tide Pool
Sea anemones and Sea Stars adorn the tide pools

Cal Poly Pier Tide Pools

The Cal Poly Pier was originally built in 1914 by the Pacific Coast Railway Company for shipping. In time, Unocal bought the pier and contributed to Avila Beach becoming the most active and productive crude oil shipping port in the world. Today, the pier no longer ships oil, having been gifted to local Cal Poly State University for marine research. The site is ideal for the study of marine life, though it is not open to the public. Fortunately, anyone wanting to observe tide pools in the vicinity can do so without being a Cal Poly student, staff or faculty. Find a small outcropping of active tide pools and interesting rock formations on the south side of the Cal Poly Pier. This can be accessed via the parking lot for the Cal Poly Pier. Keep an eye out for sea anemones, urchins, sea stars, crabs, mussels, and other tiny tidepool residents.
Tidepool children playing
Spend the day discovering sea life

Point San Luis Lighthouse Tide Pools

The picturesque Port San Luis Lighthouse lies tucked around a mountain, not visible from anywhere in Avila Beach. The fact that it is so unspoiled and untouched makes this area especially appealing for tide pool enthusiasts. Built in 1889 to help nearby ships navigate the shoreline, the Port San Luis Lighthouse lies on the northernmost edge of Avila Beach. The lighthouse stands above a small cove that includes many abundant tidepools, all of which are accessible by kayak only. Of course, it’s possible to visit the Port San Luis Lighthouse itself, but only via a docent-led tour. (The path to reach the lighthouse is called the Pecho Coast Trail, which travels over land owned by PG&E. But while private hiking is not permitted on the Pecho Coast Trail, kayaking to the cove is very much allowed. It’s also very quiet and rewarding: look for mussels, urchins, sea stars, hermit crabs, anemones, and more.
Port San Luis Lighthouse

Off-Shore Sea Life of Avila Beach

The world of Avila Beach sea life extends far beyond the border of its tidepools. Avila’s historic Harford Pier is an ideal spot for spotting California Sea Otters. These furry, precious marine mammals often hunt, dine, and care for their babies within full view of the pier. Harford Pier is also a popular lookout point for whale watching, as is the main pier in Avila Beach. Certain whale species travel through Avila Beach at different times throughout the year, and sometimes even make an extended pit stop in the bay here. Standing on one of these piers at the right time of year, you’re very likely to see a whale fin, tail, spout or even a breech. For more information and tips on how to identify the different species, look for the Whale Trail sign on the main Avila Beach Pier. And, thanks to its position along the Pacific Flyway, Avila Beach is also a terrific place for bird watching. Migratory species and year-round residents can be found throughout the area. This includes the sycamore groves that canopy over the Bob Jones Bike Trail, San Luis Creek Estuary, seaside rock formations, and open ocean. Bonus bird-watching: Don’t miss the opportunity to watch sea birds diving into bait balls near the Harford Pier.
Sea Otter
A Sea Otter and Crab sighting off-shore

#Hwy1SeaLife

[post_title] => Tide Pools and Sea Life of Avila Beach [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => tide-pools-and-sea-life-avila-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-07-19 09:57:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-07-19 17:57:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=134168 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133867 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-06-15 11:31:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-06-15 19:31:54 [post_content] => With their many miles of untouched coastline, beaches, forests — even a castle! — San Simeon and Ragged Point offer a wealth of spectacular family-friendly destinations. The parks here are wide-open for exploring and discovery. Ascend the “enchanted hilltop” of Hearst Castle to follow the footsteps of media magnate and billionaire William Randolph Hearst. Take a tour, and watch the IMAX documentary about his life and ambitions in building his mansion. And explore the state park named after him, Hearst San Simeon State Park, with fun, family-friendly outdoor activities aplenty. Pick up picnic provisions in Cambria or downtown San Simeon, and spend the day hiking, fishing, whale watching, visiting with the Great Northern Elephant Seal, and much more. Or there’s always the simple, perfect option to spend the day lazing on the nearby beach, collecting seashells and driftwood. Bring a good book, sunscreen, sand toys, a blanket and a hat, and you have the makings of a perfect day on Highway 1.

Explore San Simeon & Ragged Point Parks

https://youtu.be/865DlE46bUM

Hearst San Simeon State Park

Established in 1932, the Hearst San Simeon State Park comprises 3,409 acres between Cambria and San Simeon on the coast. It is one of the oldest state parks, boasting some of the most spellbinding scenery, from coastal promontories to Monterey Pine forests. Highway 1 cuts through the park, with Hearst Memorial State Beach serving as the westernmost boundary. Other beaches included in the park are Moonstone Beach in Cambria, and Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Beach north of San Simeon. Find a variety of activities here, for all ages, from camping and picnicking to hiking, fishing, whale watching and more. At the south end of the parking lot pull-out, find a Whale Trail sign detailing which whales migrate along the coast here. The state park contains two main camping areas, both of which lie near the Washburn Day-Use Area located directly off Highway 1. The San Simeon Creek Campground offers unique programs for kids: Junior Rangers (ages 7-12), Junior Cubs (ages 4-6) and Campfire. The Washburn Campgrounds is the more primitive and quiet of the Hearst San Simeon State Park camping options. A 3.3-mile trail travels through sections of the Washburn Campground and San Simeon Natural Preserve. A section of the path, the one-mile San Simeon Creek Trail, includes a wooden boardwalk and hard-packed dirt that is ADA-accessible.
Highway 1 aerial view near San Simeon
Aerial views of San Simeon just steps away from Highway 1

Hearst Castle State Park

Construction began on Hearst Castle just after World War I and continued through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. As the home of wealthy tycoon and heir William Randolph Hearst, its 115 rooms hosted celebrities, dignitaries, and public figures during that time. Today, this uniquely American landmark is property of the state of California, and serves as “a museum like no other.” Tour the mansion and its grounds, and marvel at the luxury and opulence of days gone by. Mr. Hearst chose this hilltop site to highlight the natural beauty of San Simeon, the Pacific Ocean, and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. Learn from experienced and interesting guides all about Mr. Hearst, his guests, his architect Julia Morgan, his art and antiquities, and his lifestyle. Tours are ADA accessible and interesting even for children. After your tour, check in at the Visitors Center where the IMAX theater shows a film about how Hearst built the estate. And don’t miss the gift shops, where souvenirs, books, DVDs, postcards, apparel, and other merchandise celebrating Hearst Castle are available.
Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA
Experience history at Hearst Castle

California Coastal National Monument

With 1,000 acres of islands, rocks and onshore areas along the California shore, this might be the most-seen national monument in the country. The California Coastal Monument protects a wide variety of birds and mammals, including the elephant seals that migrate to Piedras Blancas each year. One of the monument’s six onshore areas includes the Piedras Blancas Light Station, a working lighthouse with a long history of protecting vessels. Named for the white rocks that face the ocean there, Piedras Blancas stands on Highway 1 between San Simeon and Ragged Point. The Light Station, whose light still beams atop the tower, offers guided tours of the lighthouse and outbuildings. (The light station is only viewable with a tour guide.) Walk the easy half-mile scenic trail from Highway 1 out to the lighthouse; bring your binoculars to view wildlife from the point. Note that tours are available by reservation only.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seals San Simeon
Elephant seals line the beaches at the Piedras Blancas Rookery

#SanSimeonParks

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In a land of natural splendor, it’s no surprise that the public has access to breathtaking, fun, and fascinating parks. On this special stretch of Highway 1, the wild and the wonderful conspire to bring kids and their grownups closer to nature — and to each other. Here, you can hold moonstones in your hand, ride a tall slide right down onto the beach, and barbecue for a crowd. You can climb multiple playgrounds, shred on your skateboard, or hike to get a better view of the ocean. You can even peep thousands of butterflies, fight swashbuckling pirates, or pretend to be a billionaire in his hilltop estate. All of this — and more — is possible in our top 10 parks, and can be done as a family, experiencing together the beauty and bounty of coastal California. Best of all? These experiences won’t break the bank. So hop in the car, cue the road trip tunes, and head out to see these top 10 parks along Highway 1.

Discover Highway 1 Parks

https://youtu.be/Q6WMvxsx-GQ

1. Hearst Castle State Park

This historic mansion is a billionaire’s playground rather than a children’s playground, but it’s a playground kids can appreciate nonetheless. Situated high above the San Simeon coastline, Hearst Castle is the vision of 20th-century media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. This hill he called “La Cuesta Encantada” — The Enchanted Hill — for its spellbinding views and natural beauty. But it was also enchanted because it hosted Mr. Hearst’s celebrity friends, from famous actors and writers to political figures and dignitaries. Built in a European style he saw throughout his life’s travels, Hearst Castle was designed by famed California architect Julia Morgan. After he died in 1951, the entire estate — including its treasure trove of antiquities— became property of the state of California. Today, Hearst Castle welcomes 750,000 visitors to tour its buildings and grounds each year. Kids will be amazed to see the iconic Neptune Pool and indoor Roman Pool, made with real gold. They’ll delight in seeing where Mr. Hearst slept, walked, and ate, and to watch reels of celebrity visitors in his private theater. If that gets them really interested, consider viewing the IMAX film “Hearst Castle: Building The Dream” in the Hearst Castle Visitor’s Center. Admission is free with every tour of the estate.

Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA
The iconic Hearst Castle in San Simeon

2. Shamel Park on Moonstone Beach

With its special, rambling play structure, public swimming pool, and pretty gazebo, this Cambria park is already sensational. But the fact that it lies up against one of the most picturesque and interesting beaches in California makes it truly exceptional. With six acres of clean, well-maintained facilities, Shamel Park has something for everyone. Kids love the playing field, play structure and ADA-accessible heated swimming pool, and lovebirds like the wedding-friendly gazebo and oceanfront location. Horseshoe pits, day-use areas with barbecue facilities, and easy parking make this an appealing park for multiple reasons. And when you’re ready for something a little different? Walk down to Moonstone Beach and hunt for sea glass, driftwood, and the ocean-polished moonstones along the shore. This park also provides access to the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, a one-mile path that hugs the coastline and provides excellent views of the Pacific below. Pack a picnic and the kids’ swimsuits, and settle in for a full and fulfilling day at Shamel Park.

3. Cayucos Beach Playground at the Pier

How often do you see a really excellent playground right on the beach? There’s nothing else quite like the Cayucos Beach Playground at the Cayucos Pier. This play structure appeals to kids of all ages — even the ones who think they’re too old to play at the park. Think: plenty of climbing bars and footholds, bucket swings and big-kid swings, spring riders, and a tic-tac-toe board. There’s also a unique section of the playground with swinging monkey bars, lilypad jumps, and a set of rigid bongo drums to play. But the crown jewel on all of this wonderfulness is the steep, steep slide, shaped like an elephant’s trunk. For years, this slide has double-dared kids to take the plunge, and many have accepted the challenge. The playground is also great for when one sibling wants to surf or wade in the waves, and another just wants to climb and play. A restroom, outdoor shower and foot shower stand just feet away for convenience, as do restaurants, antique stores and sweets shops.

Cayucos playground
A moment of pure joy at the the Cayucos Beach Playground

4. Hardie Park in Downtown Cayucos

Named after a family of Scottish immigrants who settled here in Cayucos’s early days as a town, Hardie Park is another multi-faceted public space with a lot to offer. Just a few minutes’ walk from downtown Cayucos’s shopping and restaurants, the park straddles across the corner of Ash Avenue and B Street. On one side lies a well-maintained lawn, a covered day-use area and BBQ facilities. You’ll also find horseshoe pits, a play structure, and restrooms, making this the perfect spot to hold a celebration or gathering. The other side of the street boasts tennis courts plus a heated ADA-compliant swimming pool with a kiddie pool, showers, and restrooms. These facilities can be rented by the hour for celebrations like reunions and graduation parties — or just for fun. When the party ends, have everyone walk one block over to downtown Cayucos for adult beverages, a sweet treat, or just to watch the sun set.

Hardie Park Playground Cayucos
The play structure at Hardie Park in Cayucos

5. Pirates Park on Avila Beach

Ahoy, mateys! This parrrrrrk is arrrrrrguably the very best (and only!) pirate-themed park around, with a seaside view and plenty of room to play. A sandy bottom surface makes Pirates Park safe for little ones, while older kids get a kick out of trying to climb the crow’s nest. Big rocks form a bridge that’s fun to hide beneath for hide-and-seek, while the play structure offers slides, climbing walls, a spinning coil and two bucket swings. The park is surrounded by a rolling lawn where it's easy to lay down a blanket and see the kids play nearby. Restrooms, water fountains and soda vending machines can also be found here. Other amenities within view of the Pirate Park? First and foremost is Avila Beach itself, located just a few steps from the park, with its white sand, pier, and gentle waves. Also nearby are the Central Coast Aquarium, beach volleyball, basketball courts, picnic tables and barbecue facilities. Fun fact: parts of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy were filmed just south of Avila Beach at the Nipomo-Guadalupe Dunes.

Avila Beach Pirates Park
A pirates dream come true at this Avila Beach playground

6. Los Osos Community Park

This sprawling park feels like multiple parks in one, with plenty of room to roam — and kids will love every inch of it! Bring a quilt and snacks, and relax on the grass while the kids play on the two modern, challenging and fun play structures. Or, for older kids, walk a few feet over to the adjacent Los Osos Skate Park. This wonderful new 17,000-square-foot addition invites skateboarders and scooterers to explore its three bowls, transitions and street options. If Rover is on-leash, he can explore Los Osos Community Park, too. Grownups, take note of the two tennis courts and horseshoe pits available for games. Are you looking for a gathering site? Have a look at the Grizzly and Red Barn group picnic areas, which can accommodate 150 guests and are available to rent. And for history buffs, check out the one-room Sunny Side School House from 1875. It’s still possible to see inside the windows of this storied Los Osos landmark.

7. Pismo Preserve

What this park lacks in play structures it more than makes up for in wildlife viewing, mellow hikes and ocean views. One of the newest and most noteworthy parks on Highway 1, the Pismo Preserve affords visitors views of the Pacific that had not been available before. Rambling above Pismo Beach, the Pismo Preserve’s 880 acres include nearly a dozen miles of trail and ranch roads to explore. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders are welcome to take these trails over hills, through valleys, and to hilltops with a panoramic view. Walk through oak forests and wander across grassy glens where only cattle and ranchers once roamed. Folks who reach the highest heights may even be able to see Irish Hills to the north and Point Sal to the south. Insider tip: With its elevated position, this is one of the best spots from which to watch whales migrating off the coast. Check in with the Whale Trail to learn which whales are migrating during your visit and what to look for.

Hiking the hills of the Pismo Preserve

8. Monarch Butterfly Grove in Oceano

Many visitors can’t believe their eyes when they arrive at this protected natural Monarch Butterfly Grove. Are those leaves on the eucalyptus trees, or are they really clusters of butterfly wings? Yes, they’re wings: tens of thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies have been known to rest, mate, and warm themselves here each year. The Western Monarch follows a migratory path twice per year, much like migrating birds. As they travel to warm climates, they pause along the way in Oceano to warm their wings in the sun while hanging on eucalyptus branches. And at their peak here, the Monarchs comprise one of the largest populations of this species in the world. Come between October and February to see them in their natural habitat, and learn from knowledgeable docents about their life cycle. You can even use their high-powered telescopes to see the Monarchs up close as they cluster on the trees. So while this isn’t a traditional park with a play structure, it certainly is a magical place for the whole family to enjoy.

Monarch Butterfly sunning
Beautiful butterflies adorn the Eucalyptus leaves

9. Biddle Regional Park in Arroyo Grande

Looking for a quiet greenspace to get away to? This Arroyo Grande park lies far away from crowds, noise, screens or any other modern distractions. The setting feels like a secluded ranch, occupying 47 acres with sports fields, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, picnic tables and barbecue facilities. A creek channel provides a natural boundary for the park, with a network of cottonwood and sycamore trees and the wildlife they support. Locals love this park for its spaciousness, its remoteness, and its facilities for hosting both large and small gatherings. Biddle Park boasts five day-use areas, with plenty of restrooms and parking, but it’s also perfect for a family picnic and discovery time. Play on the play structure and explore the greenbelt around the park. Just beware of the prevalent poison oak here. Know what it looks like and be careful when wandering into brush. Bonus points: hit up Talley Winery & Vineyards across the road for wine tasting before or after your visit.

10. Nipomo Community Park

To play like the locals play in Nipomo, head to the Nipomo Community Park. This expansive green park has been the civic center of town life for many years. Everything from Oktoberfest to tee-ball games, picnics to pickleball have brought the locals together here. Take advantage of the rolling green turf: it really does beg for kids (and kids at heart) to run and roll down its gentle slopes. They’ll also enjoy the farm-themed play structure — one of the biggest and most impressive in the area. The park includes three day-use sites for groups, each of which has Santa Maria-Style barbecue pits/screens and seating for a crowd. Want to play softball, volleyball, soccer, football or horseshoes for a family reunion or team-building weekend? Find all the courts and sports fields you need within the 140 acres of Nipomo Community Park. And what about your furry, four-legged friends? They can come, too: set Fido and Rover free in the fenced dog area with other pups to sniff and chase.

Nipomo Regional Park
One of the numerous sports fields out at Nipomo Community Park

#Hwy1Parks

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Discover Fishing Along Highway 1

https://youtu.be/Z_IkNyPhnwE

Lopez Lake

General Info

Located 10 miles east of Arroyo Grande, this freshwater lake is formed by the Lopez Dam, built in 1969 on Arroyo Grande Creek. The lake totals 49,200-acre-feet; fluctuating water levels and capacity can be found through the San Luis Obispo County Public Works website. Common fish species here include crappie and red-ear sunfish. Anglers have been known to catch large catfish (exceeding 25 pounds) at dusk and dawn, year-round. But Lopez Lake is best known for the largemouth and smallmouth bass that swim its waters. To learn more about which species are planted, and when, visit the California Fish & Wildlife website. And while you’re at the Lopez Lake State Recreation Area, take advantage of the wildlife-viewing in the 4,200 acres of open space surrounding the lake. From the shorelines, anglers can see deer, bears, and wild pigs; be aware of this possibility, especially if you choose to hike in for shoreline fishing.
Fishing on Lopez Lake
Casting off on a calm and clear day

Where to Fish

It’s helpful to know some of the most popular fishing spots before embarking on your trip, but of course it’s also worthwhile to explore on your own. Should you want a guide, there are four common spots that shoreline anglers choose to visit. Note that while the shoreline around some of these areas can be reached on foot, this guide pertains only to fishing from a water vessel. The Lopez Canyon Arm is the southwestern bend of the lake, where waters reach 129 feet when the lake is at capacity. The Vasquez Creek Arm extends from the northwesternmost part of the lake and reaches depths of 90 feet. The Wittenberg Creek Arm forms the northeastern edge of the lake, and has depths of up to 46 feet. And the Arroyo Grande Creek Arm, which follows Hi Mountain Road along the southeastern border of the lake (near the park entrance) reaches depths of 45 feet.

Tournaments

Bass tournaments are very popular at Lopez Lake, attracting anglers from near and far to join in the competition. Check out the American Bass Association Pacific Coast Region, which holds regular Bass Derbys here. In prior years, the tournament has taken place in early March, with prize winners catching bass at 9+ pounds. Paso Robles shop Jim’s Pro Bass Tackle has held tournaments at Lopez Lake, as has San Luis Obispo’s Tackle Warehouse. And the Friends of Lopez Lake even hold an annual Kids’ Fishing Derby for little anglers. This longest panfish competition takes place in March, with one tournament for kids ages 5-10 years old and another for ages 11-15. For more information on other bass and fish tournaments, research open competitions through the California State Fish & Wildlife website. Every year, new interest grows, and new tournaments and competitions take place here.
Fisherman on Lopez Lake Arroyo Grande
Reeling in the fun on the open water

Marina

The Lopez Lake Marina is located 0.6 miles from the Lopez Lake Campground entrance, on the southeast end of the lake. The marina is well-stocked with live and frozen bait, plus fishing licenses for those without one. (All anglers 16 years and older require a fishing license on Lopez Lake.) The Marina also rents a variety of boats including five-passenger, crestliner, patio boat, deluxe, tiki, P5, pontoon, valco, slide boat and fishing boat options. (If rustic is more your speed, the marina also rents canoes.) Some include restrooms and barbecues, and some charge a fee for pets. All are available for up to 8 hours and require a deposit. The marina offers many other amenities, including camping supplies, WiFi, boat batteries, gas, and branded merchandise like t-shirts, hats, and hoodies. Check out the marina restaurant, the Fishtales Bar & Grill, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and includes a full bar. Chow down on a heart breakfast, tasty lunch, or satisfying dinner, alongside a glass of beer, wine, or a cocktail. And if you come with kids — or you are a big kid, yourself — settle in at the arcade with air hockey, ping pong, darts, foosball and more. The bar also has two flatscreen TVs with satellite, plus a jukebox.

Chartering

Should you want an experienced guide, fully-licensed local captains like Jonathan Davis are available to show you the ropes on Lopez Lake. Captain Jonny has guided tours since he was 19 years old, and is great with anglers of all ages and experience. As a local native, Jonny grew up fishing on Lopez Lake and other Central Coast lakes. He guides locally from September until May on one of his two vessels: the Phoenix 921 Pro XP and a family-friendly pontoon boat for 6 guests. He recommends the 21-foot 6-inch Phoenix 921 Pro XP for serious anglers, as it boasts cutting edge technology and electronics. For any Lopez Lake chartered visit, he asks that anglers older than 16 years have a fishing license, as well as any food and drink you like to have with you. He provides top-quality fishing rods and tackle, plus lures, bait, and a cooler with ice.
Fishing Boat Lopez Lake
Taking a tour out on Lopez Lake

Arroyo Grande Creek Watershed

Arroyo Grande’s local watershed is fed by the Lopez Dam below Lake Lopez. In fact, the headwaters of this watershed lie high in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, where the spring combines with rainwater to form the Arroyo Grande Creek. This creek flows 9 miles from the Lopez Dam to the ocean, passing through agricultural land and the quaint Village of Arroyo Grande. Prior to construction of Lopez Dam in 1969, steelhead trout could be found in the Arroyo Grande Creek, spending up to three years hiding, feeding on insects, and growing. Eventually, juveniles began their migration to the Pacific Ocean, adapting to saltwater as they traveled. Counts totaled between 500 and 5,000 fish during steelhead runs in the Arroyo Grande Creek and its tributary, Lopez Canyon Creek. As of 1997, however, they are a threatened species and fishing for them in this area is strictly prohibited, and incurs significant fines.

More freshwater fishing along Highway 1

Lopez Lake is just one of Highway 1’s best spots for freshwater fishing. Steelhead trout can be found at William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach in San Simeon, where San Simeon Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. Visit in the fall, when steelhead make their way west to be flushed into the Pacific with winter’s rain. (Just remember that California law designates steelhead trout as catch-and-release.) Whale Rock Reservoir, located in the hills above Cayucos, is another popular spot, stocked with striped bass and large-mouth bass. The reservoir is only open for bass season, typically from April through mid-November, and all fishing is done from shore: no vessels allowed. And along Highway 1 to the south, freshwater fishing can be had in the Oceano Lagoon and Oso Flaco Lake in Nipomo. Just steps from the beautiful Oceano Dunes, the Oceano Lagoon has the same serene and natural beauty. Come in the spring and find common species like bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass. And at Oso Flaco Lake, plan to hike out on the quiet, ADA-accessible boardwalk to fish for white perch, largemouth bass, and flathead grey mullet.
Oso Flaco Lake Bridge
A peaceful spot out at Oso Flaco Lake
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#FishHwy1

[post_title] => Fishing Arroyo Grande [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fishing-lopez-lake [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-06-07 17:19:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-06-08 01:19:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=133784 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133629 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-05-24 13:02:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-05-24 21:02:13 [post_content] =>

Explore Fishing in San Simeon & Ragged Point

https://youtu.be/Z_IkNyPhnwE

Fishing San Simeon

With dramatic coastline, mild weather and rugged scenery, San Simeon and Ragged Point offer a beautiful backdrop for your fishing trip. Look for a wide variety of fishing opportunities here, including pier fishing, rock fishing, surf fishing, deep sea fishing and kayak fishing. Yet for all the variety this stretch of coastline has to offer, it remains one of the least crowded locations on Highway 1. It’s easy to find yourself the only angler for miles of coastline, whether on the pier, on the beach, or in a kayak. Depending on where you choose to fish, expect to pull in a number of different species. Expect to pull in barred surfperch, rockfish, and lingcod, among others. Plan to pick up bait and tackle at San Simeon Liquors on Pico Avenue in San Simeon. And get ready for success: this can be a wildly abundant area for anglers who know where to look.
San Simeon Fishing Pier
All smiles while fishing in San Simeon

Pier Fishing San Simeon

The beauty of fishing on public piers here is the ease of access, as fishing licenses are not required. Bring out your gear, and plan for an easygoing day in this magical setting, within view of Hearst Castle. The San Simeon Pier has a rich history in this former whaling town, and remains a popular place for pier fishing. At 850 feet long and 12 feet wide, it’s a small pier over shallow water and a sandy bottom. Kelp grows in and around the pilings, which sustains a number of species in the water beneath the pier. The pier’s position in a protected cove also keeps surf to a minimum along this stretch of shoreline. Year-round, you might reel in barred surfperch, white croaker, and calico surfperch. The peak season, however, is generally late spring to fall. Many locals recommend live sand crabs as bait for barred surfperch and calico surfperch. Otherwise, go with bloodworms, mussels, clams and ghost shrimps on your hook.
Fishing San Simeon Pier
Sunny skies and blue waters make for a perfect day of pier fishing

Rock Fishing San Simeon

Like most rock fishing spots along Highway 1, San Simeon boasts scenic terrain that makes for a beautiful day of fishing. Boccacio, rock cod, and cabezon have been caught in these waters using sand dabs (which can be caught from the San Simeon Pier). One reliable area lies at the end of San Simeon Cove Trail, through a eucalyptus forest to the water’s edge. Another area, the Vista Point south of Piedras Blancas lies directly accessible just off Highway 1 about 4 miles north. And while Point Sierra Nevada Beach is known more for its excellent surf fishing, the point offers a variety of rock outcroppings, too. Travel Highway 1 driving north from Piedras Blancas for 4.5 miles. Park on the west shoulder of the highway, and head southwest, toward Point Sierra Nevada. Continue along the trail to the beach, following it all the way down to the rocky point.
San Simeon Coastline
Cast off along the San Simeon coastline

Surf Fishing San Simeon & Ragged Point

San Simeon and Ragged Point offer a wide array of locations and conditions for surf fishing. But one quality remains the same in each of these: the scenery is unmatched. Check out William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, where San Simeon Creek enters the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the best locations for fishing the steelhead trout that pass through from their freshwater phase to their saltwater phase. (Steelhead, much like their salmon cousins, are born in freshwater, then spend years in the ocean’s saltwater. Eventually, they swim upstream in freshwater to return to their birthplace for spawning.) This generally happens in fall, as steelhead pass through hoping to be flushed out to sea by heavy winter rains. Adult steelhead can reach 2 feet in length, but don’t expect to put any fish on the grill. By California regulations, fishing for steelhead is strictly catch-and-release. Other great surf fishing points include Pico Creek at the north side of the town of San Simeon. Find beach access via the Pico Avenue parking lot cul-de-sac, which gives access to significant coastline adjacent to the hotels in town. At San Simeon Cove, find calm waters and minimal wind along the beach both north and south of the San Simeon Pier. The Point Sierra Nevada southern trailhead gives access to quiet, uncrowded Arroyo De Laguna Beach, accessible from a small turnout off Highway 1. Further north, surf fish Arroyo Del Corral Beach, reachable from the old Piedras Blancas Motel site. (Just be careful, as the beach can sometimes be covered in elephant seals!) Also near Piedras Blancas, the Boucher trailhead offers access to the beach just north of the lighthouse — another often overlooked spot. And just south of Ragged Point, San Carpoforo Creek meets the Pacific where steelhead trout pass through to the ocean. Once again, this happens only in years with substantial rain; watch for steelhead to flow through during a very wet fall and early winter.
Surf Fishing Cayucos
Surf Fishing San Simeon

Deep Sea Fishing San Simeon & Ragged Point

If you have your own watercraft, you’ll definitely want to explore options for deep sea fishing off the shore of San SImeon and Ragged Point. Look for Calico Bass, Lobster, Halibut, White Seabass, Pacific Barracuda, Rainbow Trout, Steelhead and Yellowfin Tuna. The best place to launch for San Simeon deep sea fishing is via the Morro Bay public boat ramp at the south end of the Embarcadero. Launching from here is free, but note that parking a vessel or vehicle is not. Even if you don’t own a boat, thanks to the services of two sportfishing outfits, you can experience deep sea fishing here, too. Charter a boat or book a fishing tour at Virg’s Landing or Patriot Sportfishing, based out of Morro Bay. These businesses have been deep sea fishing along the California coast for many years, and have all the local knowledge you’ll need. They also sell fishing licenses, tackle, and bait. Look for tours that offer rockcod, albacore, and salmon fishing when in season.
Getting ready to reel it in on the open water

Kayak fishing San Simeon and Ragged Point

Thanks to the low surf and calm waters of San Simeon Cove, this area provides a comfortable place for kayak fishing. It's also a simple and easy launch site, with the sand just steps away from the parking lot. Arroyo Laguna Beach is often recognized for its favorable kiteboarding and windsurfing conditions, but it’s equally popular with kayak anglers. Big lingcod and vermillion rockfish rule the waters here, and the beach is an easy, sandy launch. Again, though, be aware that these beaches are the migratory home of elephant seals at times throughout the year. The beach is actually closed from mid-December through the end of April, while elephant seals visit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go in the water: all water activities are still allowed so long as you don’t disturb the seals. To get to Arroyo Laguna Beach, find parking just north of Oak Knoll Creek in a little pullover on the west side of Highway 1.
Kayak Fishing
Launching out for a day of kayak fishing
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#FishHwy1

[post_title] => Fishing San Simeon & Ragged Point [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fishing-san-simeon [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-05-24 13:02:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-05-24 21:02:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=133629 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133269 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-05-04 06:09:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-05-04 14:09:03 [post_content] => While San Simeon surfing definitely has its hot spots, there’s excellent surf everywhere you look along this stretch of unspoiled coastline. Seriously: endless opportunities, if you have the will to reach them. Often the best spots are tucked back in tiny, remote coves, but if you’re up for the challenge of finding them, epic surf awaits. Just take note of a few tips. First, be very aware of the conditions, particularly in spring, when surfers most enjoy the waves here. This part of Highway 1 can be wet and windy (though often it’s gloriously sunny and warm), and the water is chilly. Plan to bring all your neoprene: a 4/3 wetsuit plus booties and a hood. This is not the place to see how little you can get away with! Second, look out for hazards. These can be anything from hidden rocks to dangerous swells to elephant seals which are sometimes aggressive (and hunted by Great White sharks). Watch out for these and their predators especially around the Elephant Seal Rookery and Piedras Blancas Light Station. Otherwise, pack your board, your gear, and your sense of adventure, and get ready to get stoked.

Explore Surfing San Simeon to Ragged Point

https://youtu.be/wS_dAC5PXXQ

Pico Creek

One of the greatest benefits of surfing this spot is its accessibility. You can easily park right at the north end of San Simeon and walk to where the mouth of Pico Creek enters the ocean. This meeting of the creek and ocean makes for really interesting breaks that experienced surfers can appreciate. Ideal conditions at Pico Creek include a swell from the west (including southwest and northwest), and winds from the east and northeast. At its best, the surf here ranges from chest-height to a few feet overhead. If you choose to surf the reef, look for a low tide; at the beachbreak, look for a medium tide. If the northern end of the beach is too busy, try the southern end. Park on Vista Del Mar and walk along the bluff trail to find easy access down to the beach. This is an area that doesn’t see as many surfers due to the rocks and less navigable shoreline. If you’re not confident along an irregular coastline, stick to the north end of the beach.
Surfer surfing a Big Swell
Some perfect swells at Pico Creek

San Simeon Point

From the pier in Old San Simeon, look north and you’ll see a large point facing southeast. This is the fantastic San Simeon Point, a point break that cuts right — and is for experienced surfers only. When the conditions are right, this large point offers epic waves, especially as wind moves west from the cliffs. Park in the lot at W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, near the Coastal Discovery Center. Walk the beach northwest, about a quarter of a mile. At the end of the beach, look for the dirt trail that climbs the hillside. Follow this trail (the San Simeon Point Trail) into the forest, and be ready to walk about a mile to the point, where you can scramble down to the beach. Look for northwest and west swells that break big at the top of the point. These swells start working at around 5 or 6 feet and hold upwards of 10 feet. Watch out for rocks, but otherwise enjoy this remote spot that most people don’t take the hike to explore.
San Simeon Surfing
Scoping out the surf at San Simeon Point

Ragged Point Beach

Despite its name, this actually isn’t the beach beneath Ragged Point Inn. (That’s Black’s Beach, or sometimes called Young’s Creek Beach, a favorite for waterfall-chasers, and a steep walk down from the inn.) The Ragged Point Beach trailhead lies seven miles north of Piedras Blancas, and 1.8 miles south of Ragged Point Inn. Because it’s remote, this beautiful little beach doesn’t see many visitors. But those who venture out on the trail off Highway 1 get the reward of a quiet surfing hideaway. Start from the tiny pull-out between a call box and a sign that reads “No Campfires.” You’ll also see a Private Property sign posted by the Hearst Corporation that details the rules of visiting the beach. Follow the narrow trail through the trees to the bluff beside Ragged Point. Here you’ll find a steep path down to the right side of the point. Enjoy the solitude here, as you’ll probably have every wave to yourself.
surfing Cayucos wave
Riding a barrel at Ragged Point Beach

San Carpoforo Creek

Located north of Ragged Point, San Carpoforo Creek is considered the southern border of Big Sur. Walking the trail among the wide, low marshes, you can see already that the river mouth here feeds directly into the beach break. That beach break offers rights and lefts from the northwest-facing beach. The ideal swell hits in winter, when storms traveling down from Oregon can result in waves 2-3 feet higher than in other spots. (Just be aware that this same swell can mean tricky riptides that make paddling in tricky.) One of the best conditions here is the wide valley that leads to the beach. This protects the beach break from offshore winds, unlike many of the best surf spots on the Central Coast. Find San Carpoforo Creek 8 miles north of Piedras Blancas and 1.5 miles south of Ragged Point Inn, with easy-to-spot signage. Park in the turnout and look for the green gate on the west side of Highway 1; this is the trailhead. The trail is only about 1/4 mile long to the beach, which is typically empty.
Surfing
Surfing San Carpoforo Creek

Willow Creek

This spot is known as a consistent wave all through the year, with both left and right reef breaks, the left being the better of the two. And because it’s known as an excellent surf spot, the waves can be busy at times, despite the remoteness of the area. Intermediate and experienced surfers will find 5-7-foot waves and swells around 12 seconds. These are fast, ledgey waves with a lot of power behind them: head out to Willow Creek when the tide is rising for the best possible conditions. Offshore winds come in from the northeast, but groundswells are more common here than windswells. Like so many favorite spots along Highway 1, watch out for hazards like rip tides, rocks, and sharks. Thirteen miles north of Ragged Point, follow signs for the Willow Creek Picnic Area. Park in the limited lot and head out onto the rocky beach.
Cayucos Surf
Catching a break out at Willow Creek

Sand Dollar Beach

Located across Highway 1 from Plaskett Creek Campground, Sand Dollar Beach is the largest public sand beach in Big Sur. This can mean more people than in other parts of Big Sur, but the surf is nonetheless terrific. An exposed beach break, Sand Dollar Beach has the best conditions in winter, but it’s consistent all year long. Expect clean groundswells, ideally from the west, with breaks that favor lefties. Visit during high tide on a rising tide, and always beware of rip tides, sharks, and rocks. To reach the beach, travel 15 miles north of Ragged Point and look for the large day-use parking area near Plaskett Creek. (Be prepared to pay a fee to park here.) On the north end of the park, look for a large wooden sign for the trailhead. Keep left on the trail, and you’ll discover a wood staircase that leads down to the beach, about another 1/3 of a mile.
San Simeon Surfing
A day of surfing at Sand Dollar Beach
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The stretch of coastline along San Simeon sees some of the most diverse sea life of all of Highway 1. Here, whales spout and breach within full view of the San Simeon Pier at William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach. Dolphins’ dorsal fins dip in and out of the ocean’s surface, and California sea otters float with pups on their bellies. Seabirds like Western Snowy and Black-bellied Plovers, Killdeer, and Long-billed Curlew make their home along the shore, sometimes feeding among the waves. Tide pools brim with tiny sea creatures like urchin, hermit crabs, anemones, and sea stars. Most dramatically of all, Northern Elephant Seals court, fight, molt and birth their young in one of Earth’s largest elephant seal rookeries. (And that’s not even counting the zebras that roam William Randolph Hearst’s ranch estate, visible from Highway 1!) This truly is a diverse and abundant place worth protecting. Want to be part of that sustaining effort? Stewardship Travel for Good is a way to get closer to the heart of Highway 1, with activities that make the most of your time here. Try exploring the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which borders the San Simeon shoreline. Or take a tour of Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve and Conservation Area. However you choose to learn about this stretch of Highway 1, you’ll be glad you took the time to dive deeper. Just be sure to read our Wildlife Viewing Tips before you embark on your journey of discovery.

Explore San Simeon Tide Pools & Sea Life

https://youtu.be/0wRtrnzwmFk

Coastal Discovery Center

Located at William Hearst Memorial State Beach, the Coastal Discovery Center is a great starting point for any coastal adventure in the area. A joint project between the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks, the center provides visitors with education, information, and inspiration. Engaging exhibits bring the intersection of land and sea to life with stories about San Simeon’s cultural and natural history. The Coastal Discovery Center also offers guided and self-guided tours that the whole family can enjoy. Take a self-guided tour which includes a walk along the pier, with signs along the way giving information on local birds and mammals. (Harbor seals are particularly active around the pier, but if you want a close-up, the center has binoculars available to borrow.) Or opt for one of their guided tours, with a menu that includes pier walks as well as San Simeon Cove beachcombing, among others

Coastal Discovery Center Family San Simeon
Discovering all that San Simeon sea life has to offer

San Simeon Tide Pools

Tide-pooling can be rather epic in San Simeon thanks to its craggy shoreline and abundance of biological diversity. Several spots worthy of a tide-pooling adventure can be found along the San Simeon coastline, each with their own character and appeal. Look to the area north of the Piedras Blancas Light Station for the Point Sierra Nevada Trailhead South. This stretch offers easy access to Arroyo Laguna Beach and a variety of tide pools during low tide. Also north of the light station, check out the Northernmost Boucher Trailhead, which provides access to the beach and has a great selection of tide pools. (Just be careful of any Elephant Seals on the beach! Give those guys a wide berth.) Another tide pool hub can be reached at the vista point south of Piedras Blancas, just off Highway 1. For a low-key, picturesque spot for tide-pooling, go even further south to W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach. Here, on the northern side of the beach, low tide reveals small tide pools containing tiny flora and fauna to explore.

Tide Pool Family
Exploring through the beautiful tide pools
[tide-table]

Wildlife Viewing at Point Piedras Blancas

Point Piedras Blancas stands out as a rich wildlife viewing area — even along wildlife-rich Highway 1. To enjoy the natural spoils of the area, begin by heading to the West Overlook Stop. The westernmost point of the Piedras Blancas Light Station provides a view of offshore rocks where multiple congregate and can be observed. Look for harbor seals, sea lions, cormorants, pelicans and even peregrine falcons sheltering among the “white rocks” for which Piedras Blancas is named. These offshore white rocks provide a resting and nesting zone for many marine birds and mammals. Further south, the Boucher Trail boasts two fantastic spots for wildlife viewing along its path: The Whale Stop and The Otter Stop. The Whale Stop provides a wide, sweeping view of an area where whales often breach and put on a spectacular show. And The Otter Stop features a view of the cove area where otters can often be found playing.

Point Piedras Blancas in San Simeon

Elephant Seal Viewing

Few attractions put wildlife front-and-center the way the Northern Elephant Seal Rookery does. Located just south of Piedras Blancas Light Station, this turnout and viewing area allows visitors to watch elephant seals in their migratory home. Thousands cycle in and out of this beach every year, pupping infants, competing for females, and lazing on the sand. Depending on the season, you might see giant males fight and lumber on the beach, or females scratch themselves with their “fingers.” Of course, baby elephant seals win the cuteness contest, nursing, snuggling, and resting with their mamas. And it’s a good thing they do rest, as they’ll spend around 80 percent of the rest of their lives in the ocean. It’s only for major life changes that an elephant seal comes ashore, like mating, birthing, and molting. (Otherwise, they’re in the water, able to hold their breath over 100 minutes, and able to travel up to 60 miles per day.) Take advantage of the opportunity to watch them during those milestones, from a safe, roped-off viewing area.

San Simeon elephant seals
A perfect spot to view these majestic mammals at the Elephant Seal Rookery

Whale Watching

In addition to the Whale Stop on the Boucher Trail at Piedras Blancas, there are multiple elevated scenic viewing points along Highway 1. Turn off onto any one of these points and you may see a whale in the distance. Look for spouts on the water’s surface — did you know a whale’s species can be determined from the shape of its spout? You may also see a fin, a tail, or even a whale breaching. Often, species like California Gray Whales, Humpback Whales and Blue Whales migrate past San Simeon. Watch for seagulls flocking, as often whales are coming to the surface filtering fish. These are many times the best places to predict where a whale will emerge. To learn more about whale watching here, visit the Whale Trail signs at San Simeon State Park and near San Simeon’s Cavalier Resort.

Whale Watching San Simeon
A breaching whale just below San Simeon Pier

#Hwy1SeaLife

[post_title] => Tide Pools and Sea Life of San Simeon [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sea-life-and-tide-pools-san-simeon [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-04-27 12:01:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-04-27 20:01:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=133146 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133111 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-04-21 11:05:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-04-21 19:05:46 [post_content] => Sunset views, beaches, and plenty of history: these are just a few features you can expect with your next meal in San Simeon. A wide array of cuisines can be found for all budgets in San Simeon restaurants. Look for Mexican food, seafood, pub fare, and farm-to-table cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to tour historic Hearst Castle followed by a meal that includes Hearst Ranch beef. You’ll find it on several menus throughout the area — Hearst Ranch meats truly offer a chance to taste local history. Given San Simeon’s seafront position, most restaurants offer ocean views to pair with your just-caught seafood and locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Patio dining is usually available as well, with some eateries even offering dog-friendly options. Wherever you choose to dine, consider ordering a locally-made craft beer, glass of wine, or even a cocktail made with locally-distilled spirits. With world-class quality and a range of varieties and styles, these drinks are a major perk of vacationing in wine country.

Explore Dining in San Simeon and Ragged Point

https://youtu.be/yj43CJXTyb4

Cavalier Coastal Kitchen

Panoramic views overlooking the Pacific Ocean make this American cuisine restaurant a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Perched on a bluff along the San Simeon coast, the Cavalier Coastal Kitchen is located on the premises of the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, as well as appetizers, drinks and dessert. This restaurant is known for its laid back, family-friendly vibe and budget-friendly menu. Look for dishes served with Hearst Ranch beef, as well as locally-caught seafood and vegetarian choices. The Cavalier Restaurant also serves celebrated wines from the Central Coast, including bottles from Hearst Ranch Winery. Order a glass of local wine, a pint of beer or a craft cocktail and settle in for a comfortable and delicious lunch or dinner. Or visit for breakfast and fuel up for a day of experiencing the best Highway 1 has to offer. The breakfast menu includes favorites like Denver omelettes, French toast and breakfast burritos, as well as coffee, tea and espresso drinks.
Cavalier Coastal Kitchen
The Cavalier Coastal Kitchen serves up colorful cuisine

Big Sur Restaurant

This eatery lies just beside the Days Inn on the east side of Highway 1 in San Simeon, four miles south of Hearst Castle. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a diner setting, Big Sur Restaurant is a great spot to stop between sightseeing moments in the area. The restaurant serves mostly American cuisine, highlighting classic combos like Chili Cheese Fries, Pot Roast, and Cobb Salad. All types of appetites will find something to enjoy here, including gluten free and vegetarian options. Parents will appreciate the kids’ menu, with choices like burgers, spaghetti, chicken tenders and grilled cheese. Adult entree portions tend to be generous across the menu, so plan accordingly. This is especially true for breakfast menu items like Steak & Eggs, Country Fried Steak, and pancake stacks. If you’re looking for smaller dishes, the menu of “light dinners” comes in handy. Otherwise, enjoy barbecue, fish ‘n chips, burgers, sandwiches, salads and soups in a relaxed atmosphere, along with local wines and imported and domestic beer.
Big Sur Restaurant Patio
Dine just steps away from the San Simeon sites at Big Sur Restaurant

Sunset Grill & Ale House

Looking for a chill place to grab a hearty breakfast or satisfying dinner after seeing the sights along Highway 1? Sunset Grill & Ale House might be your best bet. The restaurant, which is attached to the Motel 6 in San Simeon, is decorated with large-scale photos of waves, as well as surfboards mounted on the walls. This easygoing atmosphere is perfect for grabbing a beer and pub food in the evening, or breakfast and hot coffee in the morning. Enjoy classic breakfast orders like Eggs Benedict, Sausage Scramble, Belgian Waffles and oatmeal. Or, if you’re in the mood, go for the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, priced affordably to fuel your morning. Dinner entrees include Herb Garlic Shrimp Pasta, a Fisherman’s Platter with fresh-caught seafood, Barbecue Chicken Pizza and veggie burgers. Beer lovers will delight in the list of imported, domestic, and locally-made beers, and wine enthusiasts can choose from local bottles, as well.

El Chorlito

Named after the Snowy Plover, a local beloved shorebird, El Chorlito serves up California and New Mexican food in San Simeon. The terracotta Spanish-style building sits along the frontage road and Highway 1, conveniently located about four miles south of Hearst Castle. This is a great option for people who love Mexican food, with a menu featuring nachos, tortilla soup, burritos, tacos and enchiladas. The leafy garden patio allows for an ocean view, surrounded by succulents and beneath a generous pepper tree. Each table is covered in ceramic mosaic and strings of market lights glow above after sunset. This is an ideal setting in which to relax after a day of exploring at Hearst Castle, playing at Hearst State Beach, or fishing off the San Simeon Pier. Bring your pup to the dog-friendly patio and order a margarita, beer or wine from the full bar. Visitors with gluten-free and/or vegetarian diets will like the multiple options here, and kids will be pleased with the children’s menu.
El Chorlito
A beautiful and flavorful plate at El Chorlito

Manta Rey Restaurant

This popular eatery, owned and operated by the De Alba family, serves up fresh ocean fare with a foodie twist. Many dishes have a local following, like locally caught sand dabs, salmon poached in Chardonnay, and coconut shrimp. The interior atmosphere centers around wide circular picture windows that face west to the Pacific Ocean. Nab a window table, set with white linens and fine stemware, and enjoy dinner with a stellar view. The menu centers on fresh seafood and premium-grade steaks, as well as housemade desserts and a wine list featuring many local wineries. Kids get to enjoy the high-quality fare, too, with foodie options like Calamari and Chips and Linguine Alfredo. All dishes are artfully plated, with sauces and vegetables in a kaleidoscope of color on each plate. Visit for a candlelit evening, and don’t skip dessert. The Manta Rey is known for serving beautiful handmade treats like housemade orange ice cream with raspberry sauce, flourless chocolate cake, and creme brulee.

San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill

Attached to the San Simeon Lodge, San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill boasts ocean views from every table in the restaurant. Fine fare can be found here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus appetizers, drinks from the full bar, and dessert. Entrees center on steak and seafood dishes like hearty Fish ‘n Chips and Top Sirloin and Scampi. Don’t miss your chance to dine on Maine Lobster Tail, Boulliabaisse, or Linguine Pescatore, all favorite dishes here for seafood lovers. Enjoy draft beer, local wines, and premium cocktails from the full bar, which offers happy hour every day from 4 to 6pm. For lunch, try one of the San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill’s fresh sandwiches, from BLTs and Tuna Melts to burgers and fried chicken. Breakfast includes hearty egg dishes, as well as a full range of griddle favorites like French toast, pancakes and waffles with boysenberry syrup. Best of all? The restaurant offers a pool table for a little friendly competition, as well as big screen TVs to catch the big game.
The palm tree covered patio of the San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill

Ragged Point Restaurant

Just up the coast about 15 miles north, Ragged Point Restaurant serves farm-to-fork cuisine with a million-dollar ocean view on Highway 1. As part of the Ragged Point Inn, this historic property has served deliciously fresh fare alongside local wine and beer for decades. Dine inside with spacious, glass-walled views of the Pacific Ocean below, or sit outside on the patio beside a fire pit. This is a full-service restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The eatery is also popular as a stopover for drinks and appetizers. Choose from popular entrees like Ceviche, Short Ribs Sandwich, and Soba Noodle Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms. Each dish is beautifully plated, seasonal and colorful. Select wine from the long, curated list of mostly-local bottles, or opt for a pint of local craft beer. Everything tastes better with a jaw-dropping view, but the cuisine at Ragged Point Restaurant is worthwhile in its own right.
Dining in the lush outdoor scenery of the Ragged Point Restaurant

#EatHwy1

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A good public park can add so much to a vacation along Highway 1. In Cambria, parks are destinations for flying kites, barbecuing burgers, and letting the kids (and dogs) burn off some steam. Most parks here include wide views of the Pacific Ocean, where sea otters, whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds raise their young, hunt, and play. Each park makes the perfect family-friendly destination, with plenty of safe, fun places for kids to roam. Fido can even get in on the fun with a dog park set up just for four-legged friends. Cambria offers a mix of wide-open unfinished spaces for exploring and sightseeing, and parks that are traditional playgrounds for young ones to enjoy. All lie in close proximity to the historic Cambria downtown East and West Villages. Wander downtown, check out the boutiques and coffee shops, then grab a picnic lunch to enjoy at any one of these parks. Just remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, water, and your sense of adventure.

Explore Cambria Parks

https://youtu.be/_TtSAhhJLIs

Shamel Park

Few parks can claim the amenities that Shamel Park has. For starters, it’s right on the ocean at Moonstone Beach, perfect for beachcombing for sea glass, driftwood and moonstones. The landscape here is magical, with the stony shoreline, sparkling water, and gentle outlet of the Santa Rosa Creek in which to wade. But aside from the obvious benefit of Moonstone Beach, Shamel Park’s six acres include a popular children’s play area. The rambling wooden play structure and soft rubber foundation bring joy to kids and parents alike. The park offers two group day-use areas, a playing field, horseshoe pits, a gazebo, and even an ADA-compliant heated swimming pool. (Check on the pool’s open hours as access is seasonal.) With its handsome gazebo, sizable turf area and beach backdrop, Shamel Park is popular as a wedding and/or reception venue. Other perks include restrooms, large Santa Maria-style grills and plenty of banquet seating.

Leffingwell Landing State Park

At the opposite end of Moonstone Beach from Shamel Park, Leffingwell Landing offers its own mix of amenities. Greatest among them is access to the beach, specifically the concrete boat ramp that makes launching into the ocean easy. (Bring your kayak here for an especially easy spot to venture out for a pleasure cruise or kayak fishing.) Parking is free, as is use of the boat ramp. Leffingwell Landing also offers picnic tables and barbecue stands for rustic seaside cooking and dining, as well as convenient restroom facilities and water spigots. The state-run park is part of Hearst San Simeon State Park, which extends north toward San Simeon. Come for a scenic place to relax on the grassy knoll with picnic benches, with elevated views of the ocean. Or take the trail down to the small beach and tide pools for up close and personal time with the ocean’s fascinating shore-dwellers. Leffingwell Landing also serves as the beginning (or end, depending on how you see it) of the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. The boardwalk follows the edge of the bluff above Moonstone Beach for about one mile to the Santa Rosa Creek day-use area.

Leffingwell Landing in Cambria
Leffingwell Landing State Park

Moonstone Beach Park

At 30 acres, this seaside park occupies a wide expanse of Moonstone Beach at the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek, as well as the bluffs above. Enjoy easy, free parking just off Moonstone Beach Drive, on a turnout toward the ocean between Stafford Street and Chatham Lane. Walk along the short ADA-accessible boardwalk — a different section of boardwalk than Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, which lies slightly inland. Here, you’ll find two small landings with interpretive signs and a perfect elevated view for spying whales, sea otters, seals, and dolphins. These are the protected waters of the Cambria State Marine Park (SMP), and beyond, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Take advantage of the benches provided and maybe enjoy a sunrise or sunset with your family, a friend, a pet, or all by yourself. Moonstone Beach Park offers endless exploration opportunities, from tide pools, moonstones and the creek mouth to wildflowers, shore birds and sea glass.

Moonstone Beach Aerial View
Aerial views of Moonstone Beach Park

Cambria Dog Park

Everyone needs a chance to roam — even Rover! Bring your pup to the Cambria Dog Park where dogs can romp, sniff and socialize off leash. The park stands just a few blocks from downtown, making this an easy place to access and enjoy. The park occupies 3/4 of an acre and includes separate big dog and little dog areas to keep everyone feeling safe. Mutt mitts, fresh water, and shaded picnic tables also make for an enjoyable doggie spot. The park even offers a basket of balls to share (in case you happen to forget yours), as well as mock fire hydrants as an added perk. As always, use common sense and keep aggressive dogs away from the park, and remember to pick up after your pup. Before or after your visit, consider spending time at another of Cambria’s pet-friendly destinations, like cafe patios, beaches, hikes, and more.

Moonstone Beach Cambria Family with Dog
A dog-friendly family outing in Cambria

Creekside Reserve

With 1.7 acres of greenspace next to Santa Rosa Creek in Cambria’s East Village, this reserve centers around a historic preserved Chinese temple. Called the Association House, this temple has been restored from the 1800s, when Chinese immigrants worked here as miners, laborers and fishermen. In fact, it’s known to be one of the oldest Chinese temples remaining in Southern California. This was a place of refuge, rest, tradition and ceremony for Chinese laborers in Cambria, and it remains a peaceful place today. The temple and surrounds are managed by Cambria Greenspace, an organization that has acquired and maintained forested and riparian property throughout Cambria. These properties include 20 preserves, natural areas and pocket parks, the Chinese temple among them. The park is open to the public at Center Street and Hesperian in Cambria’s historic East Village. Perhaps take a self-guided historic walking tour of Cambria, then head to the Creekside Reserve for a restful, quiet spot.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

A dairy once occupied this beloved public open space — which means the cows had a heck of a view. The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a natural marvel, with 430 acres of Monterey pine forest, cascading hillsides and coastal bluffs. Catch one of multiple trailheads on the edges of the preserve, whether on foot for a hike/walk or on a mountain bike. The property lies between Huntington Road to the north and Warren Road to the south, and extends all the way east to Highway 1. These trails meander through forest and field, all the way to the ocean’s edge. Take the Bluff Trail, a one-mile ADA-accessible boardwalk that parallels the bluffs. These give an elevated view of the water, making wildlife-spotting a breeze. For adventurous travelers, scramble down to the beach for epic tide pool exploration and bird watching. For more restrained folks, a stroll or a roll along the boardwalk and a rest on a driftwood bench are just the ticket.

Fiscalini ranch hike
Hiking the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

Lampton Cliffs County Park

A pocket park with a view of the sea, the Lampton Cliffs County Park is one of Cambria’s loveliest hidden gems. Located off the beaten path, this park offers a secluded cliffside entry to tide pools on the south side of town. The park doesn’t offer much in the way of facilities, but it is a wonder in its own right. Lampton Cliffs County Park is a still and generous place to enjoy a conversation with a friend, or a good book, or a moment of solitude. Wild grasses and willowy tree branches sway in the wind. Sit on one of the benches along the marine terrace and take in the view of the dynamic Pacific Ocean, or wander down the stairs to the beach. With its rocky floor, this section of coastline is best visited at low tide if you’re hoping to go tide pooling. Roll up your pantlegs and tiptoe along the rocks to spy a sea anemone, urchin, hermit crab, or sea star.

San Simeon State Park

On the north border of Cambria, San Simeon State Park stands facing the ocean, one of the most popular beaches along Highway 1. And yet, for all its popularity, San Simeon State Beach never feels crowded, with wide expanses of unspoiled white sand and frothy surf. This state park is actually one of the oldest in the California State Park system, and includes several natural preserves within its border. These include the Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve, the San Simeon Natural Preserve, and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve. Some of these protected spaces are visible along the 3.3-mile trail that winds through the park, including parts of the Washburn Campground. Expect plenty of scenic vista points, interpretive panels about wildlife and natural history, and benches on which to rest. A section of the trail that borders the seasonal wetland is accessible by wheelchair. At the westernmost end of the trail, enjoy some of the best whale and elephant seal viewing available on the Central Coast. Look for the Whale Trail sign at the south end of the parking lot located at Santa Rosa Creek on Moonstone Beach Drive. This interpretive sign will help identify what to look for while whale watching from shore. Note: dogs are prohibited on the beach and trails.

San Simeon elephant seals
Viewing the elephant seals at San Simeon State Park

#CambriaParks

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The site of fishing tournaments and a historic fishing community, Cambria has been a destination for anglers for centuries. Bring your gear and prepare to spend an hour — or a week! — enjoying these tranquil, abundant waters. Ask the locals for tips, and they’ll likely guide you to the best spots Cambria has to offer. The most popular fishing opportunities here are surf fishing and rock fishing along Moonstone Beach. Please be aware that you’ll need a fishing license for all fishing in Cambria, as there are no piers here. (Piers are the only locations along Highway 1 where anglers can fish without a license. Find the nearest piers to the north in San Simeon, or to the south in Cayucos.) Also be conscious of the protected waters of the White Rock State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) where recreational fishing is strictly prohibited. This includes the south end of Cambria, past the boundaries of Fiscalini Ranch. Fishing south of Fiscalini Ranch isn’t allowed until past Harmony Ranch Roading heading toward Harmony Headlands State Park. Familiarize yourself with all restrictions along Cambria’s coastline, including take limits and open/closed seasons via the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. These can change from year to year and even within seasons.

Explore Cambria Fishing

https://youtu.be/Z_IkNyPhnwE

Fishing Moonstone Beach

In addition to its stunning scenery, ease of access, and proximity to downtown, Moonstone Beach offers terrific surf fishing and rock fishing. This picturesque area offers a nice mix of rocky and sandy beach for either surf fishing or rock fishing. Expect to catch rockfish, surfperch, and lingcod here. Some anglers have caught huge cabezons that like to hang out on the ocean floor beneath rocky reefs. Try for yourself, especially at low tide. Barred surfperch are the most common catch on Moonstone Beach, averaging around two pounds apiece. Look for other species of surfperch too, which sometimes swim in the sandy stretches between reefs, or further out past the first breakers. Locals recommend using sand crabs, grubs, gulp sandworms, salted anchovies and shrimp as bait. (A common setup includes a Carolina-style rig with 2-inch grubs.) At the southern end of Moonstone Beach, park at Shamel Park or Santa Rosa Creek to fish the river wash area on an incoming tide. Or head to the northern end and park at Leffingwell Creek to fish Leffingwell Cove. This area includes a ramp next to the bridge, which anglers can use for beach access to launch boats and kayaks. (This isn’t an official boat launch, however — just a beach access ramp.)

Surf Fishing Cayucos
Surf Fishing Moonstone Beach

Rock Fishing Cambria

The Cambria coastline offers multiple beach access points for excellent rockfishing, all of which are much rockier than Moonstone Beach. Head north to Pico Creek, at the end of Pico Avenue, almost 6 miles from Cambria off Highway 1. Or get to the Nottingham Drive Beach Access, on Nottingham Drive at Cambridge Street, just 350 yards from Shamel Community Park. The Wedgewood Accessway at Wedgewood and Harvey Streets offers easy beach access. There is also rough access to nearby Otter Cove at the north end of Windsor Boulevard, and at the southern end of Fiscalini Ranch.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, Cambria

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

This scenic open space holds much appeal for hikers, mountain bikers, wildlife and wildflower seekers. Fortunately for anglers, the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve also boasts some of the best rockfishing around. From the Windsor Boulevard dead end on the north side of the preserve, access the Bluff Trail. Along the boardwalk, visitors can hike down to various rock outcroppings that are popular with local anglers.(Stick to this northern end of the Bluff Trail, though, as you’ll approach the Marine Protected Area heading south.) Regular rockfish catches include black, brown, blue, copper, vermillion, yellowtail, olive, starry, widow, and canary varieties. Note: For anglers looking to rockfish offshore, be mindful of ordinances on closed/open seasons. Shore-based angling is available year-round, but boat-based angling has different restrictions. When the boat-based rock fishing season opens (typically in mid- to late spring), find lingcod that can average 10 pounds or more. Locals often use metal jigs with squid here.

Deep Sea Fishing Cambria

Try deep sea fishing off Cambria’s coastline for Pacific Barracuda, Calico Bass, Lobster, Halibut, White Seabass, Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, and Yellowfin Tuna. If you own your vessel, the nearest place from which to launch is to the south at the Morro Bay public launch ramp. This is located on the Embarcadero’s southern end; launching your boat is free, but note that vessel and trailer parking incurs a fee. Cambria lies about 20 miles north from the launch ramp. These waters are highly protected in certain areas, particularly to the south of Cambria. Consult with experts at Virg’s Landing or Patriot Sportfishing in Morro Bay before embarking on your deep sea fishing excursion. These two businesses are also great spots to charter a vessel or book a fishing tour with an experienced and knowledgeable guide. Tours include rockcod, albacore and salmon tours when salmon are available and in season. Virg’s Landing and Patriot Sportfishing also sell bait, tackle and fishing licenses.

Reeling it in out at sea

Kayak Fishing in Cambria

The fact that two very popular kayak fishing tournaments take place here goes to show how fine a kayak fishing spot Cambria is. These waters have hosted the Estero Kayak Challenge and the Central Coast Slamdown over the years, with anglers coming from near and far. Most competitors are also members of, or familiar with, the Central Coast Kayak Fishing Club. The forum on the club’s website can be a great resource for visiting anglers to ask questions of the locals. Year-round, kayak anglers can expect to find a variety of species, including rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, halibut, saltwater perch, leopard sharks, and even salmon. The most common and popular species for kayak anglers to catch here are rockcod, cabezon and greenling. Just be ready for a showdown: cabezon and lingcod, especially, are incredibly strong and known to fight back when hooked. Some anglers prefer a double dropper loop setup with anchovies or squid on the hook for these aggressive species. Others like using artificial baits like jigs, swimballs, irons and plastics. Keep an eye out for Cambria’s spectacular kelp forests, where you may even spy a California Sea Otter. Other wildlife in the area may include whales, dolphins and sea lions. For the best, most efficient launch point, head to Leffingwell Landing (see “Fishing Moonstone Beach” above). This small, protected cove includes a boat ramp that makes it simple to hit Cambria’s abundant coastline with your rig.

Kayak Fishing
Launching out for a day of kayak fishing
[tide-table]

#FishHwy1

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Located between two surf hotspots, San Simeon and Cayucos, Cambria is often overlooked by visiting surfers. That’s unfortunate for them, but fortunate for those in the know. Locals prize Cambria surfing as some of the most accessible and most consistent waves around. The primary spot is Moonstone Beach, where the shoreline is really uncrowded, despite being just a 12-minute walk from Cambria’s quaint East Village. (Think: post-surf tri-tip sandwich at Main Street Grill.) In other words, Moonstone Beach surfing is pretty much hidden in plain sight. Head to the waves in fall, known as one of the best seasons for surf in San Luis Obispo County. (It’s also considered the best time to see Highway 1, in general.) Get out in the water early in the morning to avoid the wind, which can be blustery here. And for those who need to buy or rent gear like boards and wetsuits, visit Cambria Surf Shop. They can also hook you up with surf lessons, if you’re a newbie.

Surf Moonstone Beach

https://youtu.be/Clo-wLOmOO4

Moonstone Beach Surfing (and bodyboarding)

A day surfing at Moonstone Beach has quite a few benefits. For starters, it’s jaw-droppingly scenic — the beautiful Harmony Headlands beach is just south of Moonstone Beach, as is the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. But this beach is unique for its unusual smooth “moonstones” along the shoreline, in addition to seaglass and driftwood. Once you’ve parked at the main lot off Moonstone Beach Drive (next to Santa Rosa Creek), waves are easy to find. Paddle out to where the waves break, off a pile just south of the parking lot. Seasoned Moonstone Beach surfers know to come at low tide as high tide causes a shore break here. Shoot for the right-hand reef wave which can offer very long rides, and is generally good no matter direction the swell comes from. Be mindful of the protruding rocks here, though; if you’re anything less proficient than an intermediate surfer, you’ll want to practice elsewhere first.  But for those who take the time to hit Moonstone Beach, the rewards are great: consistently good swells and truly uncrowded waves.

Surfer surfing a Big Swell
Riding a barrel at Moonstone Beach

Other Cambria Watersports

Kitesurfing and Windsurfing Cayucos

If you’re ready to branch out from surfing, why not try kitesurfing or windsurfing? These two gusty watersports are favorites in Cayucos, with visitors coming from across the world to harness its winds. Cayucos winds come from the north and northwest across the entire beach spanning from north to south of Cayucos. (No wonder Cayucos has become a major destination for these watersports.) Keep in mind that winds are seasonal, with springtime bringing northwest winds that blow onshore for days at a time. More advanced kiteboarders, kitesurfers and windsurfers will want to spend time around Mouse Rock. This offshore monster wave can hold at 16 feet, and is tons of fun for those ready to tackle it. Find this reef break just north of the Cayucos Pier, and because it’s big water, it will likely be uncrowded if not empty. Get tips, advice and gear for windsurfing and kitesurfing by visiting Good Clean Fun in Cayucos.

Kite surfing, San Simeon
Catching some wind kitesurfing

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) & Kayaking

Multiple coves lie along the Cambria coastline with spots perfect for paddling out with minimal wind or surf. For easy launching, head to Leffingwell Landing, on the northern end of Moonstone Beach Drive. The rocky coastline and coves provide picturesque paddling opportunities, and the boat ramp makes for easy entrance to the ocean. (Just be careful of the shore pound when the surf gets big.) Another terrific launch spot is Shamel Park, at another point along Moonstone Beach, parallel to Windsor Boulevard. But for a truly special view of Cambria, launch from Harvey Street, located midway between Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and the Lampton Country Park. This is an easy access point for the southern end of Cambria’s coastline; take off from Harvey Street and head south along shore. Keep paddling parallel to the shoreline and you’ll eventually see the old, defunct Cambria Air Force Station. This 34-acre facility was built during the Cold War as a place to track Soviet air activity, but has been closed since 1980. From the ocean is the only way for the public to see it now.

San Simeon kayaking
Getting ready to paddle out and explore
[tide-table]

#SurfHwy1

[post_title] => Surfing Cambria [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cambria-surfing-moonstone-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-04-12 10:31:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-04-12 18:31:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=132701 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 18 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 134843 [post_author] => 8 [post_date] => 2021-09-14 12:43:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-09-14 20:43:57 [post_content] => Located at the meeting of freshwater run-off and the saltwater ocean, the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is a jewel of natural Los Osos. At 32 acres, the preserve is owned by the Morro Coast Audubon Society and includes hiking trails, interpretive signs, footbridges, and memorial benches. Local and migratory birds, as well as many other wildlife species, favor these saltwater marsh wetlands, the cypresses, pines and eucalyptus trees. This bayside forest offers views of Morro Rock in the distance, and even plays host to a congregation of migratory Monarch Butterflies. Locals and visitors visit Sweet Springs year-round, enjoying its peace and tranquility, abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, and rambling trails. The preserve is open from dawn to dusk, with parking at 660 Ramona Avenue in Los Osos Baywood Park. This ADA-accessible parking lot meets with a granite trail and raised boardwalk. Remember that this is a quiet and preserved natural space; avoid making a negative impact on the environment here. Keep noise to a minimum with quiet voices and activities, and pack out all litter. The Morro Coast Audubon Society prohibits pets, fires, smoking, bicycles, drones, collection of plants, boating, swimming, beach access and firearms at the preserve. The MCAS also strictly prohibits feeding, hunting, and harassing wildlife. By committing to learning more about the natural habitat here, you can participate in our Stewardship Travel for Good program.

Explore Los Osos & Baywood Park

https://youtu.be/NUbfvuuXv0E

History of the Preserve

The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is some of the most desirable property along Highway 1, facing the beautiful back bay of the Morro Bay National Estuary. From as far back as 500 AD, this land sustained the lives of indigenous Chumash people, as discovered through archeological artifacts found here. The abundance of the estuary and the safety it offered must have made this an especially beneficial place. European explorers arrived in the late 1700s with Spanish captain Gaspar de Portola, whose expedition traveled up the California coast in 1769. It was Portola whose sailors named the town Los Osos after the bears they observed here. Nearly 100 years later, Los Osos had been well established as a farming and ranching area. Developers filed a map with the County Recorder’s office that shows a subdivision where Sweet Springs Preserve stands now. The subdivision was never built, but another developer, Walter Refield, tried to do so in 1919. He bought 3000 lots near what’s now Baywood, and sold many of them for $10 each. It is very likely that Sweet Springs was part of that development. Another owner, Charles Ferrell, also owned 220 acres of Sweet Springs, and built the now-gone Duck Inn on the property in 1920. The trees that populate Sweet Springs Nature Preserve were planted by Richard Stuart Otto, yet another real estate developer who established Baywood Park. The land served several functions until the mid 1907s, including irrigation for potato farming, and hosting a mobile home park. But in 1975, the Morro Coast Audubon Society (MCAS) stepped in, asking the California Wildlife Conservation Board to preserve Sweet Springs. In the meantime, property holders the Morro Palisades Company applied for permits to build a hotel there. When the public resisted, the MPC eventually gave up on the hotel, donating 24 acres to the State Coastal Conservancy. This essentially established the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. The State Coastal Conservancy donated Sweet Springs to the Morro Coast Audubon Society, which opened the preserve to the public in 2002. MCAS acquired another 8 acres in 2008, which opened in 2017 as Sweet Springs East.
Sweet Springs Aerial View
Aerial views of The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve

Bird watching at Sweet Springs

Bird watching is a highlight of any visit to Sweet Springs. The preserve lies along the Pacific Flyway, a superhighway for at least one billion birds that migrate between Alaska and Patagonia. And while Sweet Springs sees more than its fair share of visiting birds, local species also abound. In total, since the 1990s, birders have recorded a total of 350 species of birds at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. Migratory waterfowl species seen here include blue-winged teal, brand, northern shovelers, long-billed curlews, black-bellied plovers, and sandpipers. Many species stop here for the safety the preserve provides for breeding. These include red-tailed hawks, California quail, great-horned owls, and white-crowned sparrows. For more information on visiting species, check the bird watching board next to Sweet Springs’ observation deck.
Sweet Springs Observation Deck
The observation deck is ideal for bird watching

Endangered species at Sweet Springs

As its name states, the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve seeks to protect the natural abundance and life of its 32 acres of open space. With that in mind, visitors to the preserve should plan to be hands-off with wildlife, and extremely mindful of their impact here. Habitat loss and invasive species have endangered several species at Sweet Springs, all of which the Morro Coast Audubon Society seeks to protect. These include, notably, the Morro shoulderband snail. Endemic to California’s Central Coast, this snail has been listed as a federal critically endangered species since 1994. The Morro Coast Audubon Society has made special efforts to rehabilitate the Morro shoulderband snail; check signs on the trail for more information. Other endangered species at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve include the Cooper’s Hawk, silvery legless lizard, and Morro blue butterfly. Check our Wildlife Viewing Tips for ways to enjoy your visit while respecting and preserving Sweet Springs’ wildlife.
Sweet Springs Nature Preserve Trail
Walk along the protected pathways of the preserve

Nearby Activities

Montana de Oro State Park

Once you’ve visited this 8,000-acre, sprawling state park, you’ll understand why people come back to it again and again. Hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride on miles of trails, across sandy dunes, over seaside cliffs and through eucalyptus forests. Surfing, kayaking, and picnic are also popular here. Don’t miss the historic Spooner House, which once sheltered cattle ranchers where the state park stands today.
Bluff hike at Montana De Oro State Park in Los Osos, CA
Scenic views of Montana de Oro State Park

Los Osos Oaks State Reserve

The oak trees that spread across this 90-acre coastal dune habitat date back as far as 800 years. Their limbs, branches, and trunks are gnarled, long, and expansive, offering a natural playground for visitors to enjoy. Three trails wind through the reserve, totaling 1.5 miles through this quiet, ancient oak forest.
Los Osos Oaks
The tree lined trails of the Los Osos Oaks State Reserve

Elfin Forest

The Elfin Forest stands on the northeast end of Los Osos Baywood Park, facing onto the Morro Bay National Estuary. The forest is so named after its tiny elfin oak trees, whose growth has been stunted from hundreds of years growing in the Los Osos dunes. Visitors enjoy a one-mile ADA-accessible boardwalk, with platforms for viewing the estuary’s abundant bird population.
Elfin Forest
Enjoy these Elfin Oaks at one of the many viewing areas around the forest

Kayaking the Estuary

Bring or rent a kayak and paddle your way across the Morro Bay National Estuary, a treasure of natural splendor in Los Osos Baywood Park. Your trip might take you to the sandspit beach where soft dunes roll for miles before tumbling into the Pacific Ocean. Or perhaps you’ll want to see otters around the bend toward Morro Bay, or paddle past the oyster farms that lie here. Terrific bird watching opportunities abound across the estuary, and the waters are calm enough for family fun.
Kayak Los Osos
Taking the kayaks out to explore the Estuary

#SweetSpringsNaturePreserve

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