Clueless: Avila Beach, CA


Stop. Rest.

Before December 26, I thought I knew all of the awesome surf spots between San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.

Before December 26, I thought I knew the best beaches on the Central Coast.

Before December 26, I thought I knew that the best little beach town that few people knew about was Pismo Beach.

Before December 26, I thought I knew that there was nothing to see between Pismo Beach and Morro Bay.

On December 26, I found out that everything I thought I knew was wrong.

This is Avila Beach. It’s a tiny little beach town just northwest of Pismo Beach and south of San Luis Obispo. It’s located about two miles west of Highway 101, and is accessible from the freeway by exactly two exits. This explains why, even though I’ve driven through the area dozens of times, I’ve managed to never notice this town, not once. Had I just a little bit more energy on the late afternoon of December 26, 2012, I would have driven right by this town again, and I would have never thought twice about Avila Beach. I’m glad I was tired.

Honestly, I’m a little sheepish about admitting that I didn’t know about this place. If there’s one thing you learn while growing up on the Central Coast, it’s where the best beaches are. Central Coast logic dictates the best beaches, of course, be located in areas that aren’t well-defined within a city (in fact, outside of city limits would be preferable), are a decent distance away from any major thoroughfares, and are absolutely not a tourist hangout. Avila Beach meets these criteria quite easily. I must have missed my Basic Central Coastology class on the day they taught us about this town.

I spent about a half hour in town to rest before continuing to San Diego, and I just kind of wandered around during that time, in an effort to figure out what was all around me. This place appears to be the perfect, polished, prototypical small beach town. There is a little seaside village, accessible by foot only (as seaside villages tend to be). There is a pier that juts out into San Luis Bay. And of course, there is an impressively manicured, flat beach that seems to be just about the perfect size for walking your dog, playing some beach volleyball, or just laying out in the sun. I didn’t try the water out, as the sun had already set, and Central Coast waters are chilly enough already WITH the sun in the sky. I may like cold water, but I’m not stupid.

Avila Beach didn’t really feel like most other seaside hangouts on the Central Coast – it seems to lack Santa Cruz’s weird charm, Monterey’s tourism, Big Sur’s postcard-good-looks, San Luis Obispo’s cool factor, and Pismo Beach’s built-up shine. It’s what I imagine a little beach town would have looked like in the 1930’s or 40’s, before you could drive from San Francisco to L.A. in less than a day, and before California’s fame exploded.

Truth be told, I still don’t know a whole lot about this town, but I’d sure love to find out more.


Posted on January 24, 2013, in Sense Of Place and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. We stayed there for 4 days and loved every minute of it! Some of the best clam chowder in the world at the Custom House!

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