By Mary Charlebois
Avila Beach is a small and lively beach community on California’s Central Coast. Tucked into the crook of a fish-hook shaped cove, the seaside village has balmy weather most of the year. It’s the ideal combination of sandy beaches to the west and hilly woodlands to the east. A weekend here can be active or just R&R. There’s plenty to do, see, eat, and drink.
1-Stay in a village. Avila Village Inn is tucked away in the woodlands, only six minutes from the beach. Make this lodge-like hotel your basecamp for the weekend. Spa rooms, private balconies with hot tubs, wet bars, and fireplaces are just a few of the amenities. The coffee bar and wine tasting bar are a favorite gathering spot.
When you book direct, you have unlimited access to the athletic club and spa. It’s only 50’ from the hotel. Workout, reserve a court, take a dip or pamper with a spa treatment.
2-Build a sand castle. Play at the beach. Avila Beach is a deep sand crescent. Jetties and piers jut out into the bay. A lifeguard is on duty, and swings and slides are fun for everyone.
Fish from one of the piers, you don’t need a fishing license, and you can rent poles and buy bait at the docks.
3-Walk the streets of Avila Beach. Across the street, shops, cafes, bistros, and bars line the beach. Most eateries have outdoor seating perfect for a rest from your bike ride, or just people watching.
4-I’m ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille. Visit the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. It’s hard to imagine that Guadalupe California was once the location for a Hollywood blockbuster. This sleepy little town is the Gateway to the Dunes.
Nipomo Dunes Center tells all about the movie set from the Ten Commandments and the ecology of the dunes. After a visit there choose one of the trails and take a dune walk.
5-Commune with butterflies at Monarch Butterflies Dunes Habitat. From November through February, migrating Monarchs use the dunes and eucalyptus groves for R&R from their winter trip to Mexico. It is a natural spectacle that will delight everyone.
Even when butterflies have left the area, hiking here is easy-going and covers diverse landscapes. It includes woodlands, sand dunes, and beaches. The hiking trails are part of the California Coastal Trail.
6-Get ready to scrub at The Luffa Farm. Tours are free and informative. Hop-house gardens of the vegetable related to cucumbers are not what you might expect.
7-Make it a Grande. Visit downtown, Arroyo Grande. Part old school, part new school, stroll around Main Street Arroyo Grande for wine tasting, eateries featuring locally sourced food, and shopping.
8-Peddle around Avila and the Bob Jones Bike Trail. Bike rentals are available through the Avila Village Inn. Take a bike to the beach or just wander the back roads. The inn can help you with trail maps.
9-Pick up a picnic at Woodstone Marketplace Deli in Avila Village. A 5-minute walk from the hotel you will find everything you like for a picnic. It’s also a nice place for a meal.
10-Visit France at Blue Moon Over Avila. This French bistro is a ‘don’t miss eatery. The food, service, and ambiance are exceptional. Seating is available outside on the patio, inside at tables or the bar. Everything is fresh and beautifully prepared. You can’t go wrong with the catch of the day. Chances are it was still swimming that morning.
Avila Beach is located just of Hwy 101, about 11-miles south of San Luis Obispo. A car is recommended. San Luis Obispo Airport has excellent service to and from major California cities. Most car rental companies offer autos. Avila Beach is a lovely little community with lots to fill your long weekend. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
All photos by Mary Charlebois