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Getaway Guide: Avila Beach
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Getaway Guide: Avila Beach

To soothe that FOMO you’re probably feeling right now, the perfect Avila Beach getaway is expecting your arrival.

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5 min read

July 30, 2021

Calm waters, hot springs, and warmer air than anywhere on the Central Coast—Avila Beach is the ultimate waterfront hideaway. The coastal city is the embodiment of laid-back living; a lifestyle we daydream about all too often. The promenade on Front Street is lined with shops, bistros, and chic tasting rooms like you wouldn't believe. Hotels here are like a front-row seat for wave action, with quirky 1930s-looking rooms opening up directly to the roaring Pacific. To soothe that FOMO you’re probably feeling right now, the perfect Avila Beach getaway is expecting your arrival. 

The name Avila commemorates Miguel Ávila, who was granted Rancho San Miguelito in 1842. The town was established in the 19th century.

Day 1

Arriving 

Once you leave La La Land behind and drive towards the quaint San Luis Obispo, life in the slow lane will begin to reveal its colors little by little. With each curve and crossing, you’ll find the metropolis feel giving way to a sleepy vintage escape—sort of like being on the beach 24/7. And where better to engulf your senses than at Avila Beach, the closest thing you’ll come to ocean bliss in Southern California!

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And just off Highway 1, you’ll find a single-carriageway road that leads north into Avila Beach California, winding through a lush oak valley and past hot springs. Follow this road a little further and suddenly—bam—a panorama consisting of nothing but the ocean and palm trees appears out of nowhere. And while this sparkling view is merely a half-mile beach in a small town center, don’t let its modest size fool you; there’s way more to do than meets the eye.

Although Avila Beach still has a working commercial fishing pier and the inland areas have extensive apple orchards, tourism is now the main industry.

Afternoon

Start your adventures by cranking up the activity at the 2.5-mile Bob Jones City to Sea Trail. This scenic trail is popular among runners, hikers, cyclists, and yummy mummies alike—yes, you’re likely to see women jogging with their strollers; they really can do it all.

Bicycles are available to rent at the "city" end of the trail—however, there might be a possibility of them running out by the time noon rolls around. In that case, simply walk over to Sycamore Mineral Springs Hotel and rent bikes from there; you can even use their bridge that passes over the road and meets the beginning of the trail. The rent for the bikes is $10 per hour or $25 for the entire day.

Next up on the list of things to do with your Avila Beach afternoon is a visit to Avila Valley Barn. Now, most people wouldn't necessarily think of a barn as one of the most photogenic spots on a road trip, but this place is about to flip your expectations upside down. 

Avila Valley Barn’s homey and quintessentially Golden State decor will make you fall in love in an instant, while the towering trees nearby envelop and whisk you away from any remnants of the outside world. And, in case you’re getting hungry, the barn has fantastic barbecue options and their freshly roasted corn is *chef's kiss*.

Avila Beach is also known for its hot springs, which are used for resort spas. You'll find plenty of spots overlooking the beach nestled in the hills.

Evening 

After all that moving around catches up with you eventually, you may feel the need for a breather. And what kind of San Luis Obispo getaway would it be without a rejuvenating self-care intermission—this is where Avila Hot Springs come in. The near-instant relaxation you feel once you step into either the freshwater heated or natural mineral pool cannot be done justice with words; you’re just going to have to see it for yourself. Sourced from a geothermal spring deep beneath the earth’s surface, Avila Beach Hot Springs has a well that pumps water to the surface, cooling it to an ideal temperature to relax in.

If you wish to extend this relaxation and make your stay an overnight thing, we really don’t blame you. Avila Hot Springs also offers tents, cabins, and rooms for those who wish to stay longer. And like a lot of Avila Beach hotels, this place has state-of-the-art spa treatments and waterslides for kids to splash around.

Sharing much of its history with surrounding areas in San Luis Obispo County, Avila Beach was occupied by Chumash Indians for centuries.

Day 2

Morning 

Start your day by feasting on the bomb beach burrito or breakfast sandwich at Avila Market, a fast-casual alternative to the more fancy eateries you'll encounter in the area. The market is located only steps from the historic Avila Pier, with sweeping views and fantastic food that goes perfectly with your daycation.

Later on, head over to the Point San Luis Lighthouse for a historical tour and photo ops that'll last you an entire Instagram highlights reel. There’s no car access to this area, so you can either take the Pecho Coast Trail or the trolley from the Wild Cherry Canyon Parking Area.

Pirate’s Cove is a hidden beach at the end of a trail with wooden steps leading down to the sand. Over the years, it has become a local-favorite.

Afternoon

Throw a dart at a map of Avila, and you're bound to get an idyllic escape. But there’s something about Pirate's Cove, in particular, that makes us want to come back again and again—and again.

To get here, navigate to Cave Landing Road, San Luis Obispo rather than putting Pirate’s Cove into Google maps—the latter might take you to the wrong entrance. If you see a dirt parking lot in the area, then you know you're in the right place. Park your car and choose whichever trail you fancy (left or right) and traverse to this clothing-optional treasure. Once you reach the ocean, a set of stunning sea caves await your entrance, making for the cherry-on-top of the already stunning vistas unfolding left, right, and center.

If you’re curious about the affairs that go down under the sea, the Central Coast Aquarium is your next stop. Located around 50 yards from the beach with a large children’s area, the Avila Beach aquarium is a ‘must-sea’ when traveling with youngsters.

Russel Kiesseg—founder of the aquarium—was inspired to educate others about marine life and ocean stewardship. He first began this endeavor by holding lessons on the Harford Pier and later opened an actual aquarium. Marvel at the impressive collection of sea stars, decorator crabs, swell sharks, moon jellies, and when luck strikes, a giant Pacific octopus.

It’s the lesser known secrets like Avila Beach that truly make California a special place to visit. You'll never want to leave.

Evening

Notice we didn't mention anything about a sunset till now? Well, we're saving the best for last. A visit to the Avila Beach Pier is just the cinematic finale you were hoping for. Nestled right in the center of Avila Beach, this pier seems custom-fit for aimless wandering, sunset-gazing, and holding hands with your S.O. There are hammocks underneath the pier if you’re really feeling like taking the phrase “put your feet up” to heart. 

Once you’ve had your fill of sunset hues and (possibly) tightrope walkers practicing their craft, you’ll be delighted to know that delicious food awaits only a road-cross away. Popular options include Blue Moon over Avila and Ocean Grill, but there’s also the lesser-known but equally mouthwatering Custom House—their wedge salads are to die for. 

For your last night at this coastal paradise, book a stay at Avila Lighthouse Suites to have the ocean right at your doorstep—until next time! 

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