PHOTO: Avila beach is chock full of fun activities. (photo via Flickr/Flickinpicks)
What do you need for the ideal California beach experience? Sun, sand, sea creatures and, of course, a great place to stay with delicious food and wine.
Tucked away along the coast between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach is Avila.
It may be a small town but it packs a lot of experiences into minimal space. From wildlife viewing to wine tasting, there’s a nearly endless list of activities to keep visitors busy, and that’s before they have even hit the beach.
MORE Destination & Tourism
Rooms With Views
It’s important to have a great place to stay. From vacation rentals to eclectic camping options, there is no shortage of lodging options in Avila Beach.
Camping is very popular and, like a lot of California camping, visitors should be sure to arrive early if they intend to park at the popular Port San Luis RV Park. Spaces are first come, first served and there are no reservations. During busy holidays, make sure you book other campgrounds well in advance as well, which is pretty standard for most coastal campgrounds.
Avila Hot Springs offers tent camping and fully stocked cabins as well as access to the mineral springs—a great compromise for those who are looking for a more rustic experience by the beach.
If you are not looking to rough it at the beach, one of the best options is the Avila Lighthouse Suites. Rooms have a distinctly beachy vibe, and the property is a stone’s throw from the promenade. It also has a big pool, giant chess, a small mini golf course and direct access to the beach.
READ MORE: More Americans Are Going Camping
Avila is blessed with sprawling white-sand beaches and, being that the town is tucked away in a small bay, the sea is extremely calm and inviting.
There’s a large play structure for children and loads of shops for stocking up on snacks, drinks and ice cream. There’s also a general store, coffee houses and local restaurants bustling with people.
Signature California Wildlife
It’s possible to view sea lions from the shore, but you are almost guaranteed to spot a sea otter if you go out on the water. California’s sea otter population is booming at the moment, and kelp beds are good place to look.
If you want to head out on your own, a stand-up paddleboard is a perfect option. Or, for a more high-speed experience, the Seaweed Express raft ride takes you all around the bay to see the sea otters and even a pirate cave.
READ MORE: Where to See California’s Most Cuddly Sea Creatures
Ocean-to-table dining is not hard to come by in Avila Beach. For a quick bite, head to Pete’s Pierside Cafe and Fish Market. Here you can have fresh-caught delicacies that have literally just been plucked from the ocean, or you can take home some seafood to cook on the grill.
For wine connoisseurs, there are a number of tasting rooms and wineries nearby. Avila wine country is located in the city itself. The beach is steps away and, in addition to wine, there is also coffee, meaning visitors can begin and end their day there.