Article By StoryStudio
The 1890 Point San Luis Lighthouse illuminates much more than the California coastline for passing ships. The beacon shines on Avila Beach, Central California’s petit paradise, a parcel of attractions from the Central Coast Aquarium to the mineral springs and spa. Here you can hunker down for a beach getaway, dash away on the 3-mile Bob Jones Bike Trail, or try out your driver on a championship golf course. Whether you pick up a paddle or a prawn cocktail, there’s no telling where Avila’s light will lead you.
Speaking of light, did you know Avila Beach sits in a micro-climate? The harbor is sheltered by the hills that overlook the Avila Valley to the east, producing moderate temperatures and statistically the most sunshine along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. More sun means the coastal fog burns off quicker here than in neighboring beach towns, the sooner to grab your towel and hit the sand, slip into a kayak or onto a paddle or surfboard.
We aren’t the only ones who regularly flock beneath the more reliable sun. The Avila Beach Bird Sanctuary is home to scores of wintering, permanent, and migratory species. Keep your eyes peeled for brightly billed black oystercatchers, diving osprey, and, if you’re really lucky, a peregrine falcon, one of the fastest fliers on earth. Learn all about the two-year-old sanctuary during Bird Sanctuary & Wildlife Day on February 18, just one of many local programs during Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Month.
Wildlife lovers also flock to the Central Coast Aquarium, a hands-in-the-touch-tank experience that identifies local marine habitats and their highly adapted residents, including sea stars, rock crabs, and purple sea urchins. Sharks, clownfish, and other Pacific Ocean residents are on full display in the many aquariums. An understanding of this delicate ecology and its inhabitants provides a great preview to tide pooling and beach combing on Avila Beach just a few feet away.
Stewardship of the ocean and land surrounding Avila Beachhas long been an important local mission. Collect a free Stewardship Clean-up Kit at participating lodging properties and the Central Coast Aquarium to help clean up litter. Residents and visitors alike take an active part in keeping Avila Beach beautiful and safe for wildlife.
Avila Beach is also home to abundantly rich soils that are ideal for growing one of the area’s most famous fruits: grapes! Close to one dozen tasting rooms ring the area between Front and 1st streets, offering a spectrum of the Central Coast’s finest vintages within steps of the beachfront promenade. The region is well known for its Pinot Noir and white wines. Several of the highest-rated wineries in the entire region have chosen to situate their tasting rooms here.
Proximity always wins the day here, where the oak forest meets the sea. Even knocking out 18 holes at the Avila Beach Golf Resort sends you on an environmental tour since the outward nine courses under the oak canopy and the inward holes traverse a tidal estuary.
Restore and rejuvenate yourself at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, where the Hillside Hot Tubs, Oasis Waterfall Lagoon, and various treatments have soothed muscles and relaxed minds since the late 19th century. Sycamore’s Gardens of Avila Restaurant nourishes the whole body with seasonal garden ingredients, an abundant sea harvest, and the highest-quality toxin-free meats.
Your ability to find the freshest seafood and produce here shouldn’t be surprising considering the Central Coast’s rich ocean life and nutrient-rich soils. The Olde Port Inn, Custom House, Ocean Grill, and Mersea’s offer oysters, chowders, and delicately prepared fish among other choices. The Woodstone Marketplace creates a daily array of fresh salads and deli-inspired entrees if you want to picnic on the beach or among the hills. Check out Taco Shack, Hula Hut, and Fat Cats Cafe for incredible seafood, and don’t miss the seasonal Farmers Market held every Friday from April to September.
Does any ambience compare to sleeping beside the ocean waves? Open your windows wide and invite the surf in at The Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila La Fonda or San Luis Bay Inn. Avila Village Inn, Avila Hot Springs and Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort located in the lush Avila Valley combine spa treatments with restful slumber. From the beach to the hills, Avila Beach is sprinkled with a variety of excellent vacation rentals as well.
Avila Beach takes its independent spirit seriously. Situated near the ocean, the hills, and wine estates, the walkable village hosts galleries and boutiques to suit most any aesthetic whim. Under the Sea Gallery features art, glass works, wind chimes and coastal decor, a must visit for any beach lover. Sayva Creative Gallery represents jewelry artisans and visual artists, and the Giggling Goose Bookstore is a preferred destination for those curious about local lore, from legendary pioneers to natural history.
It’s hard to imagine that there’s so much to do and see all in one place like Avila Beach, and we haven’t even discussed the surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding or fishing off the pier! The town has long embraced its role as the liaison between the sea and the woodlands and between the field and the vineyard. Spend a few days here, and you’ll depart smitten with your surroundings and seduced by the sea air. Avila Beach is a place where you can pick your perfect paradise.