I recently enjoyed five days in Central California celebrating my son’s college graduation from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. During my son’s time at Cal Poly we made many trips to the area and enjoyed it each and every time. Central California is the hidden jewel of the California coastline and one of my favorite destinations in the United States.
Because graduation brings so many families to town, we were not able to find a hotel in San Luis Obispo so we booked at the Best Western Shelter Cove in Pismo Beach, about 15 minutes away. A decision we would not regret! One of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in, and in such a wonderful location.
Pismo Beach and the coastline North to Avila and then Morrow Bay is, in a word, stunning. The Best Western Shelter Cove sits on a spectacular bluff above the Pacific and every room has a stunning ocean view. The first thing we saw on arrival was Grey whales spouting and breeching only a few hundred yards off shore. It was all we could do to tear ourselves away from the show to go meet our son back in San Luis Obispo. The next morning sitting on our balcony drinking coffee we watched dozens if not hundreds of porpoises playing in the sea.
The entire region has so much to offer and using Pismo Beach as your vacation headquarters is great idea. Thursday nights – year around the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market takes place in downtown SLO starting at 6pm. One of the best markets in the United States, the Thursday night event features local farm stands, live music, food, crafts and much, much more. We attend every time we are in the area and are never
Over the years we have eaten at numerous Central Coast restaurants. The recommendations below include some of our faves from this most recent trip as well as past visits.
Want to check out the beaches to swim, surf, sail, sunbathe or beachcomb? Pismo Beach and the coves and dunes that bookend it are perfect for all of the above. Summer is very busy so consider visiting in the fall or spring.
Pismo Beach attracts a lot of visitors who love the Dune Buggies. We did not do this while there, but it did look fun for the whole family. Another great activity is guided kayak tours along the shore and into the coves where you will see spectacular scenery and wildlife. This is more up my alley.
After more than a decade of clean up and restoration following a Unocal oil spill, Avila Beach is open for business and is another great stop during your visit. The boardwalk area is beautiful and often you can find live music and concerts. Enjoy the shops and many restaurant options.
Like wine? Well I do, and Paso Robles has recently become my favorite California winery location. Not nearly as crowded and touristy as Napa or Sonomo, and frankly prettier and with better wines, the Paso Robles region has hundreds of wineries featuring many styles including their award-winning regional Zinfindal, Rhone style and blends. Pick up a wine tour map just about anywhere and get started.
Paso Robles Winery Recommendations – Tablas Creek (my favorite) features Rhone style wines such as Roussanne, Viognier and Marssanne. Clayhouse features Petit Syrah and Temparnillo as well as others. There are many others, find out more.
Within a short drive of the Pismo Beach/San Luis Obispo area you can visit Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Cambria and Elephant Seal Beach all to the North on Hwy 101. To the South is beautiful Santa Barbara, Solvang, and Los Osos.
Worth a weekend and much more – I highly recommend Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. Learn more and visit soon!