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El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area

An ancient oak grove, the Elfin Forest is home to trees that grow only 4 to 20 feet tall. Walking the path among these itty-bitty beauties, adults often stand a full head taller than the trees! Skirting the Morro Bay Estuary, this enchanting area offers plenty of moments for seeing wildlife, native plants, and ocean views.

History of the Elfin Forest

At 90 acres, the El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area faces northwest toward the Morro Bay Estuary. The natural area was so named for its pygmy trees: California Live Oaks that grow to a maximum of 20 feet tall. (Elsewhere in Los Osos, California Live Oaks grow up to 50 feet tall.) Even after centuries, these trees remain small due to a combination of environmental conditions and the history of the place. At the end of the most recent ice age, the Elfin Forest did not grow here. Instead, the area was occupied by a deep river valley. The climate was much cooler and damper than it is now, resembling that of Northern California and the Oregon coastline. As the town name of Los Osos implies, the valley likely saw grizzly bears, in addition to saber toothed tigers, mammoths, and even camels. Over thousands of years, the ocean rose to its current level, with sand dunes taking over the river valley. The Elfin Forest grew in the middle of one such dune system. A lack of minerals, nutrients, and moisture keeps the Elfin oaks from growing to full size. Among the pygmy oaks, the Elfin Forest is also home to coastal brackish marsh, maritime chaparral, coastal dune scrub, riparian woodland fringe, and manzanitas. In total, the area houses over 200 plant species, 110 bird species, 22 mammal species and 13 reptile and amphibian species. It also boasts a number of insect species, including a whopping 23 species of moths and butterflies.

Chumash & Back Bay

Locals call the area of the Elfin Forest the “back bay.” Here, a large Chumash archeological site stands just adjacent to the Elfin Forest. Throughout the area, Chumash middens can be found. These ancient refuse heaps show that people occupied the area of the forest dating back at least 9,000 years. The forest was likely a seasonal hunting and gathering point until 500 years ago, when lethal diseases traveled up the coast from the earliest European visitors. Later, European explorers reached the area of Los Osos, bringing cattle and several plant species with them. The sedimentation of the back bay shows that these species quickly changed the landscape through cattle grazing, deforestation, and foreign plants competing with native species.

Park History

As far back as 1889, the land where the Elfin Forest stands had been subdivided into sites for vacation homes. Fortunately, only a few sites ever sold, and even fewer were developed. In 1987, with strong support from the community, California passed legislation to fund the purchase of 51 acres on the forest’s north side. The purchase was meant to be an annex to Morro Bay State Park. In 1994, the remaining 39 acres were purchased collaboratively by the Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP), San Luis Obispo County, the State Coastal Conservancy and the California Department of Transportation. Today, a portion of the forest belongs to the State Lands Commission, while the rest belongs to the County of San Luis Obispo. SWAP works with SLO County Parks to manage, maintain and restore the natural area.

Elfin Forest Trail Stroll

A walk through the Elfin Forest offers views of its unusual pygmy oaks, views of seabirds from a comfortable platform, and coastal panoramas. Entrance to the trail is free, and dogs are welcome on leash. Benches, trail guides and interpretive displays are provided, but restrooms, drinking water, and other facilities are not. The park is open year-round, every day, from sunrise to sunset.

Trailhead Access Points

The Elfin Forest can be accessed at seven different points just north of Santa Ysabel Avenue. From Highway 1 South, just past Morro Bay, take exit 277 toward Los Osos/Baywood Park. Turn right on South Bay Boulevard and right again on Santa Ysabel Avenue. Access to the Elfin Forest and street parking can be found at 17th, 16th, 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, and 11th Streets. Handicap access is only available at the 16th Street entrance. Mutt Mitt dispensers (for picking up after dogs) are available at every entrance.

Boardwalk Loop

At just under one mile, the Elfin Forest boardwalk loop was built in 1999 to provide access for all ages and abilities. The boardwalk is reachable via open sand trails leading from parking areas and access points. The one exception is the 16th Street access point, where the boardwalk starts and stops beside the parking area.

Viewpoints

The boardwalk loops through the heart of the Elfin Forest, including two platforms for viewing the bay. Called Bush Lupine Point and Sienna’s View, these platforms provide the perfect perch for viewing seabirds and enjoying the breeze.

Accessibility

Handicap parking and direct access to the Elfin Forest boardwalk are available only at the 16th Street entrance, just north of Santa Ysabel Avenue. Picnic in the Elfin Forest and Oaks State Reserve in Los Osos

Docent Lead Trail Walks

"Nature Walks in the Elfin Forest" are led by experienced and knowledgeable docents on different topics each month. Examples of trail walks include an exploration of the different insects in the forest, wildlife rehabilitation, and others. Walks are free and take place the third Saturday of the month at 9:30 A.M. There’s no need to RSVP: just show up at the 15th Street entrance off Santa Ysabel. Volunteers ask that you kindly leave pets at home for the walk, which lasts 90-120 minutes.

Other Nearby Activities

Los Osos Oaks Natural Reserve Discover this other area with pygmy oaks, as well as a 1.5-mile series of trails on the southern edge of Los Osos. Enjoy the beauty of gnarled, gangly branches throughout this protected nature reserve. Montaña de Oro State Park This sprawling state park offers mountain biking, equestrian, and hiking trails throughout its 8,000 acres. Visit beaches for tidepooling and picnicking, or wander the historic Spooner Ranch House, historic home of the park’s early settlers. From any point in the park, enjoy views of its 7 undeveloped miles of coastline. Golfing Los Osos is home to two popular golf courses with ocean views. Try the executive 9-hole course at Sea Pines Golf Resort, as well as foot golf and disc golf. Or head to Dairy Creek Golf Course for a links-style 9-hole course that’s easygoing enough for beginners, and challenging enough for seasoned golfers. Kayaking Kayaking enthusiasts love Los Osos for its wide range of conditions. For confident kayakers, a paddle from Spooner’s Cove to Morro Rock offers plenty of thrills. For those who like to take kayaking easy, the calm waters of Morro Bay and the Estuary make for a peaceful outing. Outfitters include the Kayak Shack in Los Osos, as well as Central Coast Outdoors, which leads half- and full-day kayaking tours across the region [post_title] => Elfin Forest [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => elfin-forest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-18 15:45:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-18 23:45:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=118435 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97400 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-06-24 12:00:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-24 20:00:11 [post_content] =>

History of Montaña de Oro

The human history of Montaña de Oro State Park begins with the Chumash people who lived here long before the first European explorers arrived. It’s been estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 Chumash people lived across California’s Central Coast between Morro Bay and Malibu. In 1542, Spanish explorers noted how open and welcoming the Chumash people were when they greeted them from their canoes. The Mission Period began when Don Gaspar de Portola came to claim this stretch of coastline for Spain. Sadly, with the introduction of European viruses, most of the Chumash people died. Those who survived fled their villages, and the Chumash way of life all but disappeared. Remnants of Chumash culture like middens (ancient refuse heaps) can still be found throughout Montaña de Oro State Park. After Mexico ceded Alta California to the U.S. in 1848, ownership of Montaña de Oro changed several times, as did its borders. Part of Montaña de Oro, called Rancho Cañada de los Osos, combined with Rancho Pecho y Islay to the south to comprise 32,431 acres.

Key Facts About Montaña de Oro

In 1892, Alden B. Spooner established a section of that property as Pecho Ranch & Stock Co., with a dairy, ranch and row crops. He built a home, sheds, stables, a creamery, barns and even a water mill for power. Spooner and his sons made use of a nearby cove by building a warehouse, chute, and a boom to load steamers below. To the north, Alexander S. Hazard established agricultural crops as well as a dairy. He also planted a forest of eucalyptus trees, hoping to sell timber across the state. Sadly, eucalyptus trees produce wood unfit for commercial uses. (The mistake was a common one across the Central Coast, as evidenced by the thousands of eucalyptus trees across the Central Coast.) Hazard Canyon saw several natural events in the 1940s, including a flood and a wildfire that burned down Hazard’s diary. The property transferred from a rancher named Oliver C. Field to Irene McAllister in the 1950s. (McAllister is the one to first call the land Montaña de Oro ― “mountains of gold” ― for the poppies and wildflowers that grow there.) The property went into bankruptcy in the 1960s, during which California Governor Pat Brown launched a park acquisition program. The state stepped in to purchase Montaña de Oro and it became a state park on April 24, 1965. Today, Rancho Montaña de Oro is some of the most untouched publicly-owned land in the state. Virtually hike the trails on Google here. Bluffs Hike in Montana De Oro State Park

Hiking in Montaña De Oro State Park

Bluff Trail

This 3.4-mile out-and-back trail skirts rugged coastline, bluffs, and tide pools. Look for the trailhead near the Montaña de Oro visitor center and Spooner Ranch House. The trail begins with a wooden bridge, followed by ocean vistas. After a half mile, stop at Corallina Cove or continue hiking for more primitive trail to Quarry Cove.

Valencia Peak Trail

At 4.5 miles round trip and 1,275 feet in elevation, this hike offers a 360-degree view in return for hard work! The peak itself is 1,347 feet and one of Montaña de Oro State Park’s tallest. The hike begins at the parking area just beyond Spooner’s Cove, across from the Bluff Trail trailhead. Take the single-track Valencia Peak Trail inland through wild sage, a series of switchbacks and some steep terrain. At the top, sit at the picnic table and enjoy views of Morro Rock, Cerro Cabrillo and Point Buchon. The trail requires no fee or permit, but bring sunscreen as the hike offers little to no shade. No dogs.

Hazard Peak Trail

This essential Central Coast hike offers clear views of Morro Bay and beyond from its 1,076-foot peak. Round-trip, the hike spans 6 miles and climbs an elevation of 950 feet. Unlike the Valencia Peak Trail, Hazard Peak Trail ascends steadily, rather than steeply. Stay to the right throughout and pass by sagebrush, eucalyptus groves and expanding views of the ocean. At the top, find benches and a picnic table for taking in the 360-degree view. The trail doesn’t require a fee or permit, but remember that dogs aren’t allowed on the trail. To reach the trail, just after entering the park find the trailhead on the left, before Spooner’s Cove. Park on either side of the road.

Islay Creek Trail

At 6 miles round trip, the Islay Creek Trail offers a gentle canyon hike with access to a small waterfall. Elevation gain clocks in at just 300 feet. Start the trail at the mouth of a stream at Spooner’s Cove. Take the dirt trail inland from Spooner’s Cove, past the Islay Creek Campground. Look for great views of both Valencia Peak and Hazard Peak. Find a waterfall after just 1.4 miles in Islay Creek. At 3 miles into the trail, turn at the abandoned barn for a 6-mile-total hike. Fees and permits are not required. No dogs.

Oats Peak Trail

At 1,373 feet tall, Oats Peak lies further inland from Valencia Peak, but offers better views of the Irish Hills to the east. A gradual trail with plenty of switchbacks ascends 1,325 feet over 10.8 miles, round trip. Along the way, wide open views abound. To begin, find the trailhead behind the Spooner Ranch House along the road to Islay Creek Campground. A sign for the Reservoir Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail stands beside a dirt trail. Any time a junction mentions the “Old Oaks Peat Trail,” stick with the New Oats Peak Trail, as it is complete and more gradual. (Most trail intersections are marked well along the way.) Along the ascent, find patches of shade, a trickling stream, and expansive views of the ocean. Note: the last 0.15 mile section of the trail is the steepest, but it’s worth the effort! Find picturesque views of Morro Rock and the San Simeon coastline beyond at the summit.

Reservoir Flats Trail

This two-mile loop takes in a 200-foot elevation gain and offers a variety of views. Find the trailhead between the Spooner Ranch House and the Islay Creek Campground entrance, marked by a sign. After 0.3 miles, bear left at the junction of Reservoir Flats Trail and Oats Peak Trail. Walk through the empty reservoir which once served the Spooner home below. Enjoy a forested walk through a canyon of cottonwood trees and oaks. At the edge of the Islay Creek Campground, walk through the campground to return to the trailhead to finish.

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Mountain Biking in Montaña de Oro

Picturesque views and well-maintained trails make Montaña de Oro State Park a mountain biker’s paradise. Depending on the trail, a full suspension bike is best (but not necessarily essential) for most. Note that hikers and bikers share trails; please use a bell for the safety of everyone on the trail. Bluff Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2.3 miles, point to point Elevation: +142 feet / -77 feet Avg / Max Grade: 2% / 6% Type: Doubletrack Hazard Peak Trail Difficulty: Easy/intermediate Distance: 4.1 miles point to point Elevation: +915 feet / -308 feet Avg / Max Grade: 6% / 12% Type: Singletrack Islay Creek Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles, point to point Elevation: +68 feet / -352 feet Avg / Max Grade: 3% / 7% Type: Doubletrack Oats Peak Trail Difficulty: Intermediate Distance: 11.3, out and back Elevation: +1,433 feet / -1,438 feet Avg / Max Grade: 5% / 36% Type: Singletrack Reservoir Flats Trail Difficulty: Easy/intermediate Distance: 2 mile loop Elevation: +132 feet / -187 feet Max Grade: 4.4% Type: Singletrack

Free Hiking and MTB Maps

The Highway 1 Discovery Route Stewardship Travel Program partners with local organizations to offer free hiking and mountain biking maps. Visitors and local residents are invited to download free maps for trails across Highway 1.

Volunteer Trail Work Days

As part of the Stewardship Travel Program, volunteers are welcome year-round to help build, restore and maintain hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. All work day events and classes are organized by the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers group, a non-profit organization since 1987. They require no experience to jump in and help! The annual volunteer trail workday in Montaña de Oro State Park is the first Sunday in February. Opportunities for volunteering on trail restoration include at least one trail work session per month. Two major workdays are offered each year and are called TRAILWERKS: all-day events with free meals, tee shirts, and raffle prizes for participants. The Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers group encourages everyone who enjoys California trail systems to volunteer for workdays as well as practice important trail etiquette that helps prevent trail erosion, reduces user conflicts, and ensures trail access. More detailed information, trail guidelines, and volunteer locations can be found at their website. And if you can’t join a trail work day, consider donating toward the purchase of trail building tools for volunteers.

Montaña de Oro Tide Beaches

Beaches at Montaña de Oro State Park include quaint, protected coves, long stretches of sand, remote shores and ideal surfing conditions.

Spooner’s Cove Beach

At the point where Islay Creek drains into the ocean, Spooner’s Cove Beach offers a comfortable place to wade, explore tidepools, and picnic. Interesting rock formations invite climbers to play, particularly at low tide. The beach lies just across the street from the Islay Creek Campground, and allows dogs (on leash). As a central point in Montaña de Oro State Park, many trails begin nearby. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, and free parking. Find Spooner’s Cove Beach to the right, just before the campground.

Sandspit Beach

This long beach begs for long walks on soft sand, and the dunes beg for jumping! The sand spit that gives the beach its name continues north, almost all the way to Morro Bay. Amenities at Sandspit Beach include restrooms, free parking and picnic tables. To find the beach, make a right into the Sandspit day-use area, and look for parking at the end of the road. Then make the short walk on a trail to the beach. Enjoy views or Morro Rock and watch surfers ride the waves. Note: Sandspit Beach is an advanced surfing area. Sharks have been known to swim in these waters; surf at your own risk.

Hazard Canyon Reef

A dramatic, rocky section of coastline, Hazard Canyon Reef is one of the best tide-pooling locations in the state. Visit at low tide to see creatures like sea anemones, urchins, sea stars, and crabs in abundance. (Check tide information for best times to tidepool.) Other activities include walking 1.5 miles to Sandspit Beach to the north, and perhaps even several miles further into Morro Bay State Park. Find sand dunes near the parking lot to jump, roll and play on. Explore the reef by following the trail north from the parking lot to a deep drop to the water. Amenities include free parking and equestrian use. Surfing is also popular here, though this is an advanced surfing area; do so at your own risk. To find this beach, enter the park, pass the eucalyptus grove and look for the Hazard Canyon Parking sign.

Coon Creek Beach

The most remote and untouched of Montaña de Oro’s beaches, Coon Creek sits at the southern end of the park. To reach the beach, drive to the end of Pecho Valley Road (the park’s main thoroughfare) park, and follow the Point Buchon Trail to the beach, only open Thursday through Monday. Enjoy tidepools and caves, but remember there are no facilities for visitors to Coon Creek Beach. Spooner's Cove, Los Osos

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Montaña de Oro Camping Overview

Camping in Montaña de Oro allows visitors from across the globe to experience California in its natural state. With nearby hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, surfing, and fishing, these campsites can be reserved at ReserveCalifornia.com.

Islay Creek Campground

This secluded campground with coastal views offers 50 campsites during summer and 25 during winter. With some shade from pine and Monterey cypress trees, each site can accommodate up to 8 people. The campground also offers six primitive sites for backpackers and equestrian sites for those with horses. Trailers, vans, RVs up to 27 feet, pets and campfires are all allowed. Amenities include fire pits, primitive toilets, electrical hookups, potable water and picnic tables. Reservations are essential during summer months, and first-come, first-served during winter. Islay Creek Campground is open year-round. Find the campground entrance just across from Spooner’s Cove, along a half-mile-long loop.

Hazard Canyon Equine Camp

This campground offers 40 sites for either tents or RVs and 4-5 horses each. (Note: electrical hook-ups are not available here.) Two group sites (Madrone and Oak) accommodate up to 50 people and 16-18 horses. Amenities include stalls, pit toilets, fire rings and water for horses. Guests are asked to muck-out their stalls, bring potable water, and keep dogs off equestrian trails. Campers must have a horse to camp at Hazard Canyon Equine Camp. Find the entrance to the horse camp to the left almost immediately after entering the park.

Environmental Campsites

For more options for camping in Montaña de Oro, try hiking into one of its four environmental, primitive sites. These sites can accommodate up to 8 people, but note that they do not allow dogs or campfires. Fees for environmental campsites are $25 per site, per night, plus $10 per vehicle. Environmental campsites can be reserved at the Islay Creek Campground. Find the Bloody Nose Camp and Hazard Grove Camp just north of the Islay Creek Campground. Badger Flat Camp and Deer Flat Camp can be found to the south of the Islay Creek Campground.

Spooner Ranch House

No visit to Montaña de Oro State Park is complete without a visit to the old Spooner Ranch House. Built in 1892, this historic building houses a museum, gift shop and general store for the park. Learn about the Central Coast’s rich agricultural, cultural and natural history with a self-guided tour of the house, which has been lovingly restored by volunteers. Find the Spooner Ranch House just before the Islay Creek Campground, across from Spooner’s Cove. Spooner Ranch House, Los Osos [post_title] => Montaña de Oro State Park [post_excerpt] => This park features rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, including 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => montana-de-oro-state-park [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-30 06:57:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-30 14:57:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/montantildea-de-oro-state-park/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 118214 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-06-10 22:04:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-11 06:04:07 [post_content] => Looking for an ideal California beach town with history, charm and boutique shopping? Cayucos is your destination. Its quaint downtown boasts field-to-table restaurants, antique stores, public art and cafes ― all just steps from the beach. Add a few historic buildings, surf shops, and an old cowboy bar, and you have California coastal living at its finest. Even better, Cayucos residents dine, shop, and connect in all the same places as visitors. Ready to make like a local? Use our guide for the best spots to discover the essence of the California coast.

Cayucos History

Cayucos’ history begins with the Chumash and Salinan people who first settled here, thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The word cayucos comes from the Spanish for the canoes those first residents used, as named by early explorers. The famed Portola expedition camped near Cayucos in the mid-18th century, and many other explorers passed through as well. In 1867, Captain James Cass made the founding of Cayucos official, as we know it today. With the local dairy industry growing, he took advantage of Cayucos’ ideal position and built a port from which to ship goods. He established a warehouse and built the Cayucos Pier for steamers to collect and dispatch shipments across California. Many of Cayucos’ dairy farms ― and descendents from those ranching families ― remain in the area today. Captain Cass’ home also stands downtown, restored into a charming restaurant, inn and event venue called Cass House Cayucos. https://www.youtube.com/embed/4DzL8hhRVVU

Eat in Downtown Cayucos

The Grill at The Cass House

An elegant stop on any itinerary, Cass House Cayucos combines rich history with fresh flavors. Dine at The Grill, where local, seasonal ingredients meet a curated international wine list. Or visit the Cass House Bakery, where muffins, scones, quiche and focaccia are baked fresh daily. Find the Cass House Cayucos at the north end of North Ocean Avenue. Cass House Grill Cayucos Sea Shanty in Cayucos

Sea Shanty

A visit to Cayucos deserves a meal at this beloved casual eatery. Grab breakfast or a cup of coffee (do not miss the world-famous cinnamon rolls!) before a walk on the beach. Or, if you’re hunting down lunch or dinner, get a tall burger, juicy steak, or crispy fish ‘n chips. If dessert is your thing, you’ll struggle to pick just one from the Sea Shanty’s many decadent desserts. (Try the “Rocky Mountain High Pie” with marshmallow-rice crust, rocky road ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter and white chocolate topping. Or the “Mudd Pie,” with chocolate cookie crust and butter pecan ice cream.) As you lick your spoon, check out the ceiling’s 1,000 hanging ball caps, or enjoy the comfort of the heated patio. Find the Sea Shanty on South Ocean Avenue, at the corner of Ocean Avenue and North 3rds Street.

Ruddell’s Smokehouse

A favorite of Sunset Magazine, Westways, and even Bobby Flay of the Food Network, this pint-sized eatery makes a big impression. Just a few steps from the sand, Ruddell’s smokes a range of meats ― think oysters, ahi, chicken and pork. Then, those meats are sold for take-away, or they get folded into decadent tacos made with house sauce and fresh salsa. The local favorite? Smoked albacore tacos. But vegetarians, never fear: Ruddell’s has you covered with smoked black bean tacos. Find Ruddell’s at the corner of Ocean Front Street and D Street, overlooking Cayucos State Beach. Ruddell's Smokehouse in Cayucos Brown Butter Cookie Company Cayucos

Brown Butter Cookie Company

This one-of-a-kind sweet shop claims that “butter makes everything better.” If that’s true, the Brown Butter Cookie Company makes its customers feel like a million bucks. Crafted from a short list of ingredients ― browned butter, sugar, flour and sea salt ― these cookies have fans worldwide. Try the original Brown Butter Cookie, or venture out into other flavors like espresso, almond, cinnamon and coconut lime. For those who go gluten-free, the Brown Butter Cookie Company bakes several flavors without gluten. So grab a sample in the shop or purchase a box to bring home...if they make it that far. Find the Brown Butter Cookie Company on North Ocean Avenue, between D and E Streets.

Old Cayucos Tavern

While the Cass House shows Cayucos’ elegant history, the Old Cayucos Tavern shows its more rugged side. Established in 1906, in the wake of the California Gold Rush, this cowboy saloon still attracts visitors from far and wide. Sit at the bar, enjoy live music, or head to the back rooms for poker on Friday and Saturday nights. Marvel at the many hundreds of dollar bills stuck to ceiling, or the “interesting” art on the walls. (You have to see to understand.) No matter what you do at the Old Cayucos Tavern, you’re sure to get a taste of its long history ― and a stiff drink. Find the Old Cayucos Tavern on North Ocean Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Cayucos town at night Cayucos Main Street

Cafe della Via

This Old World trattoria brings a bit of Italy to Cayucos. Traditional dishes get a California twist, like orecchiette pasta tossed with sautéed shrimp in a white wine cream sauce, or savory pizzas on house-made crust. The thoughtful wine list includes local favorites as well as Italian bottles. Caffe della Via can be found on North Ocean Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive.

Schooner’s

A fan favorite, Schooner’s has served fresh seafood, steaks, fish ‘n chips and burgers since 1993. The upstairs patio is unrivaled in terms of coastal views, and the nautical theme enhances the experience. Be sure to check the wine and beer lists, or try a craft cocktail and watch the sun set over the Pacific. Schooner’s is located on North Ocean Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Schooner's Restaurant in Cayucos, CA

Duckie’s Chowder House

If you love clam chowder, you’ll be in clam heaven at Duckie’s. Here, they dish up both New England chowder (cream-based) and Manhattan Clam Chowder (tomato-based)l. To up the ante, try your chowder “Nolan-style” with bacon and croutons. Duckie’s also offers fish tacos, steamers and fish ‘n chips, as well as salads, sandwiches and sides. Wash it all down with a locally-made beer or glass of wine from their drinks list. And don’t forget the little duckies! Duckie’s takes care of the kids with a menu offering burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese and fish ‘n chips. Find Duckie’s at the start of the Cayucos Pier, at 55 Cayucos Drive.

Shopping in Cayucos

Main Street Antiques

This fun and rambling antique store carries a wide range of period furniture and collectibles. In its nooks and crannies, find anything from vintage trunks, model trains, cast-iron cookware or even a phone booth. The knowledgeable staff often has the backstory on the shop’s many treasures. Whatever tickles your fancy, you’re sure to find a bit of history to take home here. Main Street Antiques is located on North Ocean Avenue, between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Cayucos antique faire

Remember When Antique Malls

Split across two locations, the Remember When Antique Malls bring vintage kitchenware, furnishings, clothing and more to downtown Cayucos. Find collectibles like Fiestaware, milk glass and depression glass pieces on the shelves. Restored shabby-chic furniture is also on display, with headboards, coffee tables, desks and dressers throughout. Lace, linens, jewelry and artwork: you name it, and it’s probably tucked away here. Remember When is located on North Ocean Avenue, between D Street and Cayucos Drive. Remember When Too can be found one block south, between D Street and E Street.

Good Clean Fun

Need help getting outfitted for your Cayucos beach adventure? Good Clean Fun takes fun very seriously. Wander into the surf shop for towels, sandals and toys, or head to the “Board Loft” for surfboards, bodyboards and skateboards. Good Clean Fun rents surfboards, bodyboards, wetsuits, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) for day use. For kayak tours of the coastline, kayak fishing tours or surf lessons, they are the experts. (Just be sure to make a reservation, as these are very popular!) To visit, find Good Clean Fun on Ocean Front Avenue between D Street and Cayucos Drive.

Events in Downtown Cayucos

Cayucos Farmers’ Market

Start a long summer weekend in Cayucos with the Cayucos Farmers’ Market, held Fridays, 10am-12:30pm, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Vendor booths burst with a wide variety of ripe produce, picked that morning. Bread, jam, juices and flowers can also often be found here, among other goodies. And don’t forget live music: nothing beats tapping your toes while shopping for fresh, local produce and products. The Cayucos Farmers’ Market is held at the corner of Ocean Avenue and D Street. Cayucos farmers market https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-QcHpoAp9w

Sea Glass Festival

This favorite annual event features sea glass ―the result of glass that’s worn and smoothed by tumbling in the sea. A collaboration between man-made materials and nature’s process, sea glass is prized by collectors across the globe. On the first weekend in March, many of those collectors descend on downtown Cayucos to celebrate these unique “gems.” Find jewelers and artists who use seaglass for their pieces, as well as live music and plenty of food. Look for “Mermaid March” displays of mermaids throughout the month of March in many local businesses. And don’t miss the Mermaid Ball in the evening, featuring dancing, a chowder cook-off, and prizes for the best-dressed mermaid and mer-couple. The Sea Glass Festival is held at the Veterans Hall at 10 Cayucos Drive in downtown Cayucos.

Polar Bear Dip

Every New Year’s Day, over 1,000 people plunge into the frosty waves for the Carlin Soulé Memorial Polar Bear Dip. All ages come out to pack the beach for this beloved local tradition, featuring crazy costumes, hilarious team names and drum circles. Festivities beginning at 9:30am by the Cayucos Pier, and the dip takes place at noon every January 1st. Cayucos Polar Bear Plunge

Cayucos Wine & Food Festival

For wine lovers and foodies, the annual Cayucos Wine & Food Festival gathers boutique wineries from the area for a memorable grand tasting. Chefs and area restaurants pair dishes with the wines, and local artists and jewelers show their work. The event also features live music from local musicians. Each ticket includes all wine tasting, small bites, and a commemorative Riedel glass. The Cayucos Wine & Food Festival takes place each November in downtown Cayucos.

Semi-Annual Cayucos Antique Street Faire

Every October and May, antique vendors occupy multiple blocks of Ocean Avenue to sell treasures, art, and memorabilia. This semi-annual antique faire brings collectors and antique-hunters from all over the world in the hopes of scoring a find. The street faire also features live music and food available for purchase. The Cayucos Antique Street Faire takes place along Ocean Avenue in downtown Cayucos.

Cayucos 4th of July Celebration

Nothing says “summer fun” quite like the 4th of July in Cayucos. Every year, the town puts on its red, white and blue for a boisterous, quirky parade down Ocean Avenue. Locals and visitors alike pack the sidewalk to celebrate the many hometown heroes, businesses, and clubs that take part. But the 4th of July Celebration is a whole-day affair! Before the parade, witness the annual sand sculpture contest, open to all ages, that takes over Cayucos Beach. And following the parade, dine on delicious barbecue prepared by the Cayucos Lion’s Club at the Veterans Hall downtown. In the afternoon, the Cayucos Lionesses host a major game of bingo, open to all, at the Veterans Hall. And once evening descends, people stake out a spot along the beach for a festive fireworks display from the Cayucos Pier. The annual Cayucos 4th of July Celebration takes place across downtown Cayucos between Highway 1 exit 284 and B Street.

Checkout the Cayucos Activities Map

Download [post_title] => Downtown Cayucos [post_excerpt] => The quaint downtown of Cayucos boasts field-to-table restaurants, antique stores, public art and cafes ― all just steps from the beach. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => downtown-cayucos [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-10 22:43:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-11 06:43:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=118214 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 107268 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:53 [post_content] =>

Sebastian's General Store has carried on through generations. Built in 1852 at the peak of the whaling industry, the Sebastian Brothers provided goods and services to whalers, fishermen, miners, and neighboring ranches. 

Sebastian Brothers General Merchandise in San Simeon Bay was the significant shipping point for barrels of whale oil, cheese, butter and other commodities on the Central Coast. Old San Simeon Village was flourishing with two hotels, saloons, a blacksmith, a livery stable, a butcher, schools, a depot for a stage travel to Cambria and a telegraph line to San Luis Obispo.

In 1878, the Bay View Hotel was built; a first-class hotel with famous guests Thomas A. Edison, Winston Churchill and Calvin Coolidge, to name a few. Some remnants of the village are still visible today but by 1910, most of the village faded away. Sebastian's General Store survived and is flourishing. Sebastian's was the first post office in San Simeon until 1905 when it was moved to the pier. It was moved back in 1945, where it remains today. The Sebastian family bought the building in 1914 and operated the store for almost 100 years.

[post_title] => Sebastian's General Store & Old San Simeon Village [post_excerpt] => Sebastian's General Store has carried on through the generations. Built in 1852 at the peak of the whaling industry, the Sebastian Brothers provided goods and services to whalers, fishermen, miners and neighboring ranches. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sebastian-s-general-store-old-san-simeon-village [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/sebastian-s-general-store-san-simeon/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 100276 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:49 [post_content] => Fisherman's Beach is the smallest of beaches in Avila and Port San Luis Harbor and is called "Dog Beach" by the locals. No matter what time of day it is, you will more than likely find dogs running free through the surf. The Port San Luis Harbor District currently allows well behaved dogs to be off the leash anytime on this beach and Olde Port Beach. Please make sure to keep your dog under control and pick up after your dog so we don't lose this privilege. Also, please remember to remove all your trash when you leave as anything you leave behind will end up in our oceans! When you're done at the beach, be sure to visit Pete's Pierside Cafe, the only dog friendly restaurant in walking distance. [post_title] => Fisherman's Beach [post_excerpt] => No matter what time of day it is, you will more than likely find dogs running free through the surf. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fisherman-s-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-28 18:31:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-29 02:31:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/fisherman-s-beach-7/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97181 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:49 [post_content] => Ontario Ridge Trail is a rugged, sometimes-steep track crossing a 700-foot hill above the Shell Beach bluff, with spectacular ocean views. Start at the Shell Beach trailhead or at Cave Landing in Avila Beach and hike the full loop. Along the way you'll be surrounded by coastal sage on a rugged trail, passing views of Pirate's Cove, Avila Valley, San Luis Obispo, Shell Beach and beyond. [post_title] => Ontario Ridge Trail [post_excerpt] => Ontario Ridge Trail is a rugged, sometimes-steep track crossing a 700-foot hill above the Shell Beach bluff, with spectacular ocean views. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ontario-ridge-trail [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/ontario-ridge-trail/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97413 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:47 [post_content] => Montaña de Oro, or Mountain of Gold, is home to many scenic views and beaches. Sandspit Beach is one of the gems of the park, located just inside the park with a parking area and marked by a sign. Walking along the beach from the access point is the only way to get to the Morro Bay Sandspit, where a variety of birds flock in the waves. [post_title] => Sandspit Beach [post_excerpt] => A secluded place to enjoy nature [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sandspit-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/sandspit-beach/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97243 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:44 [post_content] => Harmony Headlands State Park is a 784 acre coastal park located approximately 5 minutes north of Cayucos on Highway One. The Park is open for day use hiking from 6am to sunset. A one and a half mile trail from the parking lot extends west to coastal marine terrace grassland with steep hills and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. [post_title] => Harmony Headlands State Park [post_excerpt] => The Harmony Headlands trail offer spectacular, panoramic ocean views [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => harmony-headlands-state-park [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/harmony-headlands-state-park/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97254 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:44 [post_content] => Moonstone Beach is one of the primary beaches in Cambria.  It boasts Central Coast views that run north and south for many miles.  There is a Boardwalk that goes from the bridge at the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive, south to just north of Windsor Boulevard.  The Moonstone Beach State Parklands consist of 30 acres, including Leffingwell Landing State Park, Moonstone Beach Drive and Santa Rosa Creek access. [post_title] => Moonstone Beach [post_excerpt] => Moonstone Beach is one of the primary beaches in Cambria.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => moonstone-beach-cambria [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/moonstone-beach-cambria/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97268 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:44 [post_content] =>

Not many American cities have parks with beautiful ocean views. Once you visit the breathtaking grounds of Shamel Park, you’ll never look at a country park the same way again.

Many couples start their journey to lifelong happiness together in intimate weddings featuring the park’s gazebo and reception area. Oftentimes you can find little ones romping and playing on the playground, while families picnic under the pine trees.

On Windsor Boulevard North, Park Hill in Cambria is a six-acre San Luis Obispo County Park with a playing field, swimming pool (open seasonally), barbecues, picnic tables and a children’s play area. Click here for a map.

Looking to escape the tourist crowd for an afternoon? Visit this local park to kick back and relax, Cambria-style.

[post_title] => Shamel Park [post_excerpt] => Not many American cities have parks with beautiful ocean views. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => shamel-park [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/shamel-park/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 100280 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:39 [post_content] => At this park you can expect to find a pirate ship fort, grass areas with some picnic tables (first come, first serve), two toddler swings, play structure with 2 slides, tic-tac-toe game, seahorse rides, soda vending machines and restrooms. It's a seaside pirate themed park just steps from the beach in downtown Avila. You will find it surrounded by grass and the perfect place to throw down a blanket for a family picnic. [post_title] => Pirate Park & Playground [post_excerpt] => At this park you can expect to find a pirate ship fort, grass areas with some picnic tables [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => pirate-park-playground [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/pirate-park-playground-7/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97312 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:39 [post_content] => The historic windmill is located just north of Cayucos on Highway 1. Head north on the highway and look for the landmark just before Estero Point, by San Geronimo Creek. The restored Aeromotor windmill near San Geronimo Creek is a relic of the land's previous dairy days. The land is protected by Cayucos Land Conservancy to preserve the open space. [post_title] => Historic Windmill [post_excerpt] => The historic windmill is located just north of Cayucos on Highway 1. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => historic-windmill [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/historic-windmill/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97180 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:39 [post_content] => This is the first beach you will find after crossing the bridge out of Avila and into Port San Luis. It has parking along the road and a ramp down to the sand. You are allowed to drive onto the beach only unload or load a small boat you are launching. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended as it’s easy to get stuck in the soft sand.

PLEASE remember to remove all your trash when you leave as anything you leave behind will end up in our oceans!!!

Dogs allowed off leash (in control) on this beach at anytime.

Bonfire Pits (Fire rings)
Bonfires allowed in district provided fire rings only (Generally available from April thru Thanksgiving weekend) Rings are first come first serve. No treated wood, pallets or wood with nails in the fire rings. No other bonfires are allowed on the beach at all. 

[post_title] => Olde Port Beach [post_excerpt] => This is the first beach you will find after crossing the bridge out of Avila and into Port San Luis. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => olde-port-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/olde-port-beach/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97248 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:34 [post_content] => Leffingwell Landing is a scenic spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. The park offers BBQ pits, short hiking trails, a beautiful lookout and an access to a rocky shore with great tide pools. Visitors at the right time of year might be lucky enough to spot a whale or two. [post_title] => Leffingwell Landing [post_excerpt] => Leffingwell Landing is a scenic spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => leffingwell-landing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/leffingwell-landing/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97123 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:33 [post_content] => The Huasna Valley is known for its prime farmland, supporting both fruit orchards and crops of vegetables, berries, flowers and herbs.  Huasna is located 20 minutes from the town of Arroyo Grande on the California Central Coast.  Vegetables grown in the Huasna area can be found every week at the local farmers' markets, held throughout the 5 Cities area.

The roads surrounding Huasna Valley offer stunning views and can be enjoyed either by car or bicycle. 
[post_title] => Historic Huasna Townsite Drive/Ride [post_excerpt] => The roads surrounding Huasna Valley offer stunning views and can be enjoyed either by car or bicycle.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => historic-huasna-townsite-drive-ride [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/historic-huasna-townsite-drive-ride/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97142 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:31 [post_content] => There is a place where you will find a daily Farmer’s Market, a vast assortment of gourmet foods, an impressive collection of gifts, a “Critter Corral” for the kids and many items for the garden. That place is Windmill Farms, and it is located in the heart of the beautiful Central Coast of California in Arroyo Grande. 

Windmill Farms has something for everyone. Enjoy a relaxing walk through the grounds, which features succulents and roses, plus an extensive assortment of pottery, fountains, benches, statuary and garden art. Peek inside the barn for a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, gifts and gourmet delights. While the kids are visiting the animals at the Critter Corral you can find that perfect gift for yourself or that special someone on your list. [post_title] => Windmill Farms [post_excerpt] => Windmill Farms has something for everyone. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => windmill-farms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/windmill-farms/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [16] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 107021 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:28 [post_content] =>

What: Lopez Lake Recreation Area - Interpretive hikes, boat trips and more
When: Open daily
Reservation Needed: No - Contact Lopez Lake for activities schedule and more detailed information.

Stewardship Travel along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route in coastal San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) engages visitors in over 50 bite-size activities and contribution opportunities. Stewardship Travel adds meaning and fun while immersing visitors deeply in the natural and cultural heritage experiences that California’s unique Central Coast has to offer.

Located just ten miles east of Arroyo Grande, Lopez Lake Recreation Area is one of the top choices for camping, leisure trips and interpretive hikes and boating with Rangers. With 22 miles of shoreline and summer lake temperatures around 70, there is something for everyone; camping, fishing, boating, skiing, sailing, windsurfing, picnicking, hiking and equestrian trails, mountain biking, canoeing, birdwatching and so much more. Many visitors to the Central Coast make Lopez Lake their staging area for visits to wineries, golf courses, historic sites and Hearst Castle. The warm climate of the Central Coast makes Lopez Lake the ideal, your-round recreational destination.

Once covered by the sea, the surrounding hills of Lopez Lake are rich with relics of ancient days and studded with oak trees. Over 175 species of flowering plants, and more than 150 species of birds have been identified within the park. The naturally beautiful canyons were once hunting and fishing grounds for the Chumash Indians. Later, homesteaders and ranchers inhabited the area and harvested grain crops for Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Lopez Lake was then created in 1969 to provide domestic water for the Five Cities area of the Central Coast.

Gain a deeper connection on vacation through activities and charitable donation opportunities that protect wildlife, habitat, and cultural heritage sites.
This activity selection includes:
*A learning activity and/or outing
*A conservation/heritage donation opportunity though Friends of Lopez Lake
(Most non-profit organizations have donation pages. For those that don't, please contact their office directly by clicking on the "donation opportunity" link above. Thank you!)

Thank you for being a Stewardship Traveler along the Highway 1 Discovery Route.

[post_title] => Lopez Lake [post_excerpt] => Located just ten miles east of Arroyo Grande, Lopez Lake Recreation Area is one of the top choices for camping and leisure trips. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => lopez-lake [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/lopez-lake/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [17] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 97159 [post_author] => 0 [post_date] => 2019-03-07 12:00:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:28 [post_content] => Historic Avila Hot Springs offers today's visitors cabin camping, RV spaces (dry and full hook-ups) and dry tent camping - all just two miles from the beaches and next to the Bob Jones Bike Trail. All year long, Avila's protected southerly location offers some of the best weather on the Central Coast.

Come kick back and beat the heat while relaxing in the shade of the palm trees and ocean breezes. Enjoy all the fun and convenience Avila Hot Springs is known for, including the old fashioned game arcade, group picnic and BBQ facilities.  Young and old can enjoy our heated freshwater pool with double slides, or relax in our hot mineral soaking pool. 

We are in close proximity to San Luis Obispo's Cal Poly, wineries, golf courses, restaurants and shopping.
  [post_title] => Avila Hot Springs [post_excerpt] => Come kick back and beat the heat while relaxing in the shade of the palm trees and ocean breezes. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => avila-hot-springs-avila-beach [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 12:00:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 20:00:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/activities/avila-hot-springs-avila-beach/ [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] => 118435 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2019-07-15 21:35:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-07-16 05:35:04 [post_content] =>

El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area

An ancient oak grove, the Elfin Forest is home to trees that grow only 4 to 20 feet tall. Walking the path among these itty-bitty beauties, adults often stand a full head taller than the trees! Skirting the Morro Bay Estuary, this enchanting area offers plenty of moments for seeing wildlife, native plants, and ocean views.

History of the Elfin Forest

At 90 acres, the El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area faces northwest toward the Morro Bay Estuary. The natural area was so named for its pygmy trees: California Live Oaks that grow to a maximum of 20 feet tall. (Elsewhere in Los Osos, California Live Oaks grow up to 50 feet tall.) Even after centuries, these trees remain small due to a combination of environmental conditions and the history of the place. At the end of the most recent ice age, the Elfin Forest did not grow here. Instead, the area was occupied by a deep river valley. The climate was much cooler and damper than it is now, resembling that of Northern California and the Oregon coastline. As the town name of Los Osos implies, the valley likely saw grizzly bears, in addition to saber toothed tigers, mammoths, and even camels. Over thousands of years, the ocean rose to its current level, with sand dunes taking over the river valley. The Elfin Forest grew in the middle of one such dune system. A lack of minerals, nutrients, and moisture keeps the Elfin oaks from growing to full size. Among the pygmy oaks, the Elfin Forest is also home to coastal brackish marsh, maritime chaparral, coastal dune scrub, riparian woodland fringe, and manzanitas. In total, the area houses over 200 plant species, 110 bird species, 22 mammal species and 13 reptile and amphibian species. It also boasts a number of insect species, including a whopping 23 species of moths and butterflies.

Chumash & Back Bay

Locals call the area of the Elfin Forest the “back bay.” Here, a large Chumash archeological site stands just adjacent to the Elfin Forest. Throughout the area, Chumash middens can be found. These ancient refuse heaps show that people occupied the area of the forest dating back at least 9,000 years. The forest was likely a seasonal hunting and gathering point until 500 years ago, when lethal diseases traveled up the coast from the earliest European visitors. Later, European explorers reached the area of Los Osos, bringing cattle and several plant species with them. The sedimentation of the back bay shows that these species quickly changed the landscape through cattle grazing, deforestation, and foreign plants competing with native species.

Park History

As far back as 1889, the land where the Elfin Forest stands had been subdivided into sites for vacation homes. Fortunately, only a few sites ever sold, and even fewer were developed. In 1987, with strong support from the community, California passed legislation to fund the purchase of 51 acres on the forest’s north side. The purchase was meant to be an annex to Morro Bay State Park. In 1994, the remaining 39 acres were purchased collaboratively by the Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP), San Luis Obispo County, the State Coastal Conservancy and the California Department of Transportation. Today, a portion of the forest belongs to the State Lands Commission, while the rest belongs to the County of San Luis Obispo. SWAP works with SLO County Parks to manage, maintain and restore the natural area.

Elfin Forest Trail Stroll

A walk through the Elfin Forest offers views of its unusual pygmy oaks, views of seabirds from a comfortable platform, and coastal panoramas. Entrance to the trail is free, and dogs are welcome on leash. Benches, trail guides and interpretive displays are provided, but restrooms, drinking water, and other facilities are not. The park is open year-round, every day, from sunrise to sunset.

Trailhead Access Points

The Elfin Forest can be accessed at seven different points just north of Santa Ysabel Avenue. From Highway 1 South, just past Morro Bay, take exit 277 toward Los Osos/Baywood Park. Turn right on South Bay Boulevard and right again on Santa Ysabel Avenue. Access to the Elfin Forest and street parking can be found at 17th, 16th, 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, and 11th Streets. Handicap access is only available at the 16th Street entrance. Mutt Mitt dispensers (for picking up after dogs) are available at every entrance.

Boardwalk Loop

At just under one mile, the Elfin Forest boardwalk loop was built in 1999 to provide access for all ages and abilities. The boardwalk is reachable via open sand trails leading from parking areas and access points. The one exception is the 16th Street access point, where the boardwalk starts and stops beside the parking area.

Viewpoints

The boardwalk loops through the heart of the Elfin Forest, including two platforms for viewing the bay. Called Bush Lupine Point and Sienna’s View, these platforms provide the perfect perch for viewing seabirds and enjoying the breeze.

Accessibility

Handicap parking and direct access to the Elfin Forest boardwalk are available only at the 16th Street entrance, just north of Santa Ysabel Avenue. Picnic in the Elfin Forest and Oaks State Reserve in Los Osos

Docent Lead Trail Walks

"Nature Walks in the Elfin Forest" are led by experienced and knowledgeable docents on different topics each month. Examples of trail walks include an exploration of the different insects in the forest, wildlife rehabilitation, and others. Walks are free and take place the third Saturday of the month at 9:30 A.M. There’s no need to RSVP: just show up at the 15th Street entrance off Santa Ysabel. Volunteers ask that you kindly leave pets at home for the walk, which lasts 90-120 minutes.

Other Nearby Activities

Los Osos Oaks Natural Reserve Discover this other area with pygmy oaks, as well as a 1.5-mile series of trails on the southern edge of Los Osos. Enjoy the beauty of gnarled, gangly branches throughout this protected nature reserve. Montaña de Oro State Park This sprawling state park offers mountain biking, equestrian, and hiking trails throughout its 8,000 acres. Visit beaches for tidepooling and picnicking, or wander the historic Spooner Ranch House, historic home of the park’s early settlers. From any point in the park, enjoy views of its 7 undeveloped miles of coastline. Golfing Los Osos is home to two popular golf courses with ocean views. Try the executive 9-hole course at Sea Pines Golf Resort, as well as foot golf and disc golf. Or head to Dairy Creek Golf Course for a links-style 9-hole course that’s easygoing enough for beginners, and challenging enough for seasoned golfers. Kayaking Kayaking enthusiasts love Los Osos for its wide range of conditions. For confident kayakers, a paddle from Spooner’s Cove to Morro Rock offers plenty of thrills. For those who like to take kayaking easy, the calm waters of Morro Bay and the Estuary make for a peaceful outing. Outfitters include the Kayak Shack in Los Osos, as well as Central Coast Outdoors, which leads half- and full-day kayaking tours across the region [post_title] => Elfin Forest [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => elfin-forest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-18 15:45:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-18 23:45:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://highway1discoveryroute.com/?post_type=activities&p=118435 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => activities [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 39 [max_num_pages] => 3 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => 1 [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 817f35498d3ab5ae43e4a41b6e40483a [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

El Moro Elfin Forest Natural Area An ancient oak grove, the Elfin Forest is home to trees that grow only 4 to 20 feet tall. Walking the path among these itty-bitty beauties, adults often stand a full head taller than the trees! Skirting the Morro Bay Estuary, this enchanting area offers plenty of moments for […] More Details
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