Paradise Picnics Along Highway One
finding adventurous escapes for two on California’s Central Coast
all photos © by Caileigh Poeschl + Dawn Garcia
A good ole fashioned picnic makes me think of a checkered blanket, a gorgeous picnic basket and a family set in the 1950’s dressed to the nines. Times have certainly changed, but that doesn’t mean eloquent picnics are a thing of the past. Traveling along the California Coast in search of a spot fit for a picnic is an adventure to undergo to be certain but when you have an opportunity to work with California Highway 1 Discovery Route? It definitely makes the quest a lot more fun. In search of the perfect picnic basket, shops, snacks, bites, and picnic destinations, we ventured up the Central Coast over the course of three days and three nights. We met incredible locals, made new friends, explored the terrain, and most importantly, found astonishing places to enjoy. Below is a glimpse at our picnic adventures!
Kayaking in the midst of the great big blue with two of the most skilled men in town, Steven and Weston, Matt and I were taken out on the water for what would be the experience of a lifetime. We began our adventure inside the store, Good Clean Fun where we shopped for new flip flops, a fedora and a white and turquoise sun hat. Matt was suited up with a wetsuit, I opted for my board shorts (later to mock me with immense sunburned shins) and off to the shore we went for a brief safety rundown and proper kayaking technique training. Before long we were out on the water like pros! Venturing a couple of miles out, we grasped onto nearby kelp and for a few blissful moments we sat in complete serenity while the still ocean lulled us in our individual kayaks. Steve and Weston paused to see what the day’s catch may be. Casting their fishing lines, a few halibut bit but none managed to stay … little buggers were quick! Weston did get one great catch but the fish was too short and as the rules of the ocean define, when the fish isn’t big enough, you toss them back. Where were we heading? To meet our friends and gracious hosts on Byron’s Beach for our very first picnic. With salmon tacos and salads from Ruddell’s Smokehouse, beers brewed by Weston Hennigh, wine by Cayucos Cellars, killer hot sauce from Cayucos Hot Sauce Company, and cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co., our friends joined us and we all paused and ate happily on the shore. Everything tasted fresh, it was filling and most importantly, we enjoyed it together. After eating every last bite of my salmon tacos, the Everything gluten free cookie from BBCC, and enjoying a well earned glass of vino, it was time to head back into the water for some wildlife viewing and of course, to return the kayaks! Sea otters played in the kelp, sea lions sun bathed on the rocks (until I got too close and then like little sea lion periscopes, they dove into the big blue and poked their heads out to keep an eye on me!). Admittedly, Matt and I could have hung out with Steve and Weston the rest of the day out there on the water! This was the most fun I’ve had picnicking … ever.
Stay tuned because we are going to go on another incredible adventure with Good Clean Fun very, very soon.
PICNIC SPOT: Byron’s Beach
Our morning begins with a stroll from our hotel to Moonstone Beach landing just across the street. We plate our breakfast, fill up our cups with coffee and fresh OJ and decide that our day would be even better should we start it just the two of us sitting on the beautiful cliff’s edge to eat. And that’s precisely what we did. While the seagulls felt it their duty to remind us our job is to feed them everything we have, we managed to deter them with a bagel so we could eat our waffles (that we made ourselves), muffins, sausage, eggs and oatmeal. After yesterday’s adventure, we weren’t really calorie counting today. After a lovely breakfast, we decided to walk the beach and then relax for the afternoon before visiting Harmony Cellars for our dusk picnic.
PICNIC SPOT: Moonstone Beach
The afternoon sun begins to ease and we head to Harmony Cellars for wine and a luxurious picnic date for two. The moment we arrive, a large wooden barn stands housing barrels of wine ready to be bottled and as we head inside, we start with a tasting flight of the wines. The tasting room manager, Mike Rite, pours the following: 2015 Diamond Reserve Pinot Gris, 2014 Chardonnay, 2015 Vibrante, 2014/15 White Riesling, Repertoire, 2013 Malbec and 2014 Garnacha. Each wine has notes worth mentioning but it’s the Repertoire we’ve decided on to accompany the treats we purchased there: salami, prosciutto, Irish cheddar, brie, John Kelly chocolates, spiceology Chipotle Raspberry spice and an olive tapenade. Mike brought us a piece of quartz to use as a platter and we took our brown basket complete with wine glasses, silverware, plates, and linens outside on the deck. As the sun began its descent, our picnic was set and wine was poured. It was romantic and beautiful and absolutely perfect.
PICNIC SPOT: Harmony Cellars
Waking up early, we headed into town to do some shopping. On our shopping list? Scones, muffins, fresh produce, juice, and florals (because every picnic is better with flowers). My culinary curiosity led me to A Matter of Taste first. A small gourmet shoppe filled with jams, dishes, spices, cooking utensils, etc. I had a quick sampling of their chai latte (delicious!), found a darling red and white checkered table cloth and then moseyed over the Linn’s bakery for some muffins. Linn’s is known for gourmet pies and it’s restaurant but the muffins are a delight! We get the raspberry with cheesecake filling and blueberry crisp muffins (they have gluten free muffins). As we’re walking, we stumble upon Montello Fine Foods where olive oils and balsamic vinegars are made with love. We pick up 2 balsamic vinegars (Honey/Ginger + Pomegranate) and Basil Olive Oil. Then we saunter across the street to Soto’s True Earth Market for some juice, white and red raspberries, plums, blueberries and scones and goodies made by the local baker Chef Frances of Slabtown Bakehouse. As I look around the market, they have so many gluten free options so I pick up some veggie chips as well for the afternoon lunch picnic. On the way out I see a bucket of brightly colored sunflowers and couldn’t help but pick one up. In true neighborly fashion, the gentleman behind the counter said, “Take that with you as a thank you for coming by today …” and just like that, my day was brightened. We get in the car, picnic basket stocked, sunflower in tow, and head to our next picnic destination: San Simeon. San Simeon is a quaint little stop that is home to the notorious Heart Castle (where we are going after breakfast). The beach we stopped at along Highway 1 is stocked with picnic tables in plenty while just beyond you is a gorgeous beach with pebbles, sand and signs of nature. On the way we make one more unscheduled stop for some more Brown Butter cookies … today, gluttony is on the menu.
PICNIC STOP: SAN SIMEON
After a morning of pastry heaven, we drive to Hearst Castle for a tour of the Grand Rooms. I highly recommend doing this and encourage you to buy some of the Butterfinger fudge available in their main entrance! After our jaunt through the ornate Castle, we begin our descent down the coast heading back to Los Angeles but not before stopping in Los Osos at Beach Hut Deli, grabbing some lunch to take with us on our picnic in Avila Beach. Beach Hut Deli has a hearty menu that includes hot and cold sandwiches with gluten free options. Sandwiches are genuinely best when doing beach picnics as they are easy and filling. We order our sandwiches: Roast Beef dip on GF bread with pickles + Club Sandwich hot with avocado. We also grab a small quart of potato salad. Arriving at our next destination, Avila Beach, we park just across from Ocean Grill (a must-eat in the area), grab our picnic blanket, picnic basket, sun hats and sunflowers and walk down the stairs onto the warm grains of sand.
PICNIC STOP: Avila Beach
As the day’s perfect weather invited us to stay, it was time to head back to Los Angeles. Picnicking along the central coast is a marvelous way to see California, indulge in it’s plentiful oceans, try local fare and feel like you’re just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city.