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Avila Beach, Calif.: Coastal Weekender

A charming town on the California coast features great food and wine alongside outdoor adventures.

people frolicking at beach in Avila Beach, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Chris Leschinsky
Photo caption
Bask in the sun, frolic in the surf, and breathe in the sea air along the promenade in Avila Beach, Calif.

Once the main shipping port for San Luis Obispo, Calif., this tiny town on a sandy cove off Highway 101 manages to stay laid-back and friendly while packed with attractions, from quiet surf and a hopping farmers’ market to a thriving collection of restaurants and wineries. Area code is 805.

  • Starting at Avila Beach Drive and San Miguel Street, the Bob Jones City-to-Sea Trail follows San Luis Obispo Creek for six miles round-trip. Rent a bicycle at Joe Momma’s Coffee, which also sells fruit smoothies and cups of organic java. 310 Front St., 627-1500,
  • Join the food scene on Fridays, when fresh fruit and veggies, fish tacos, and live music entice and entertain at the Avila Beach Farmers Market (April–September, 4 p.m.–8 p.m.). Front Street,
  • Try a Bloody Mary and the cinnamon-crusted churro-style French toast for breakfast at the Custom House. 404 Front St., 595-7555,
  • The tasting room at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards serves a fruity chardonnay and cider-wine blends in a garden patrolled by peacocks. 1947 See Canyon Rd., 595-9700,
  • Fish tacos made with the catch of the day and offered at a friendly price are an unbeatable choice at Taco Shack. 86 Landing Passage, 627-1707.
  • You don’t need to spend the night to buy an hour’s luxurious soak in one of the private hillside hot tubs at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. 1215 Avila Beach Dr., 595-7302,
  • Kids gravitate to cool backpacks with sharks and towels sporting superhero hoods at This Little Fishy. 468 Front St., 595-1855.
  • Ask for a see-through table and the Dungeness crab cake with smoked tomato aioli at the pier-end Olde Port Inn. Harford Pier in Port San Luis, 595-2515,

This article was first published in July 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.