Avila Beach

Avila Beach

For a quiet, secluded beach vacation with baby, sneak away to Avila Beach where you can enjoy calm waters, swings on the sand and the small-town charm of Avila’s barns and hot springs. While Avila doesn’t have much in the way of amenities, you can always drive a few minutes north to San Luis Obispo for dining and entertainment.

Atmosphere: The colorful town of Avila is set against a large hillside and framed by 3 piers, the tourist one, the commercial fishing one and an educational one owned by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The pirate ship playground, seaside slide and gentle waves attract families looking for a serene beach day without distractions.

Parking and Entrance: Park along the beach on Front Street and walk down the few steps into the sand. If these free parking spots are full, park in the pay lot in the center of the city or on a side street.

Nice Walks and Views: If baby is not mobile, take her in her carrier out to Pirate’s Eye for a scenic view from inside a natural cave. There are no railings here and the cliff drops off, so do not take a toddler here. Drive up Cave Landing Road and park in the dirt lot. If you continue further down the steep hill (not recommended with a baby) you’ll reach Pirate’s Cove, a clothing-optional beach.

Activities for Toddlers: Once your toddler gets sick of playing on the cool pirate-ship playground (not likely), take him to the Sea Life Center to learn about marine life (50 San Juan Street) or Avila Valley Barn for orchards and seasonal hay rides. (closed in winter; 560 Avila Beach Dr.)

Bathrooms: Bathrooms and showers are at the foot of the main pier.

Perks for Parents: Play volleyball on the beach or a round of golf at the nearby golf course. If there’s room in the budget for a little relaxation, try a massage and hot mineral soak at Avila Hot Springs. The other parent and baby can hang out at the heated pool, water slides and arcade during the treatment. (250 Avila Beach Dr.)

Where to Stay with Kids: Avila Lighthouse Suites has all two-room suites, an oceanview pool and family play areas. Rooms come with a microwave, fridge and complimentary breakfast. (550 Front St.)

Baby-friendly Restaurants: Avila is not very developed with regard to dining or groceries. For a lively dinner, head north to San Luis Obispo to Firestone Grill, a sports-bar style restaurant with craft beer, great seasoned fries and tri-tip. (1001 Higuera St., Ste. A)

What Else to Do: Make sure your stay includes a Thursday night so you can see the famous San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market, complete with live music and BBQ. Once baby’s fallen asleep in the car, see a movie at the Sunset Drive-in. No worries if baby cries during the show, it’s only you guys that will hear her. (255 Elks Ln.)

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One comment on “Avila Beach

  1. I was one of the lucky polpee who grew up in SLO-town as th e locals have always called it! I went to school at Sinsheimer, the only middle and high school in town (actually the middle school used to be above the high school where my dad taught) and even Cal Poly, or rather Cow Pie Tech as I used to affectionately call the town! After living in San Luis Obispo for so many years I decided to move to Virginia, and I live in the country and love experiencing seasons. I must admit, this last winter has given me a bit of cabin fever! The great thing about growing up in SLO is seeing it improve. When my family first moved to SLO in the 1960s, there were washing machines thrown in the creek and all kinds of garbage. The mayor, Kenneth Schwartz, also an architect professor at Cal Poly had the fore site to build the Mission Plaza area. From there over the years the town has grown up a bit, but it still has the charm it always had! I remember the little China Town area that is on Monterey Street. Across from the Ah Louis store was a candy shop owned by Mr. Chung, I believe. Years ago I used to go in the candy shop with my grandmother. Mr. Chung had all kinds of large glass candy jars and made all of the candy himself. (Speaking of China town, there are actual buildings from the turn of the century that were moved from the San Luis area to the Loomis Ranch; I think that was the name of the ranch). I remember seeing an authentic Chinese Laundry with the original tape over a garment reading No Tickie, No Takie . There was also a fire station, a photography studio and many other interesting buildings. I am sure those buildings still exist because people really care about preserving the past. Well, I am returning to SLO this spring and just visited for Christmas. If anyone would like to comment, it would be fun to hear from you! In fact, my mother used to work for Century 21 in San Luis Obispo and she even won a contest once naming the subdivision in the Laguna Lake area known as Windemere.

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