Regions

history and locale

From beaches to valleys, the regions of San Luis Obispo have it all. »

On those rare days when it’s grey and gloomy anywhere else, count on the clouds to part and the sun to shine down on glorious Avila Beach. With a microclimate so consistent and a small-town charm so enduring, Avila is everyone’s favorite summer getaway. Sun worshippers delight in the expanses of well-kept sandy beach on either side of the historic pier. There’s surfing, kayaking, cycling, and roller blading; sport fishing and whale-watching; plus great day hikes and peaceful walking paths. Picnic tables and permanent barbecues welcome families and dogs; an interactive Sea Life Center offers fun ways to learn about marine life; and every Friday, a lively farmer’s market fills the oceanfront street with friendly vendors and great live music. An exceptional RV camping area offers a full roster of amenities, and shops can supply your every need.

Relax at Sycamore Mineral Springs and browse the gourmet goodies and fresh seasonal produce at the Avila Valley Barn. In the fall, take a drive inland to one of the many apple orchards to sample the unique varieties of See Canyon Apples. There is also a working fishing pier, a gorgeous golf course, an enchanting 1890s Lighthouse, even a Buddhist Temple.

Avila Beach was named after Miguel Avila, who petitioned for and was granted one of the many Mexican land grants up for grabs during the mid-1800s. He established a settlement there in 1842 and the town grew up during the latter half of the 19th century when it became a major shipping port for the city of San Luis Obispo. Across the bridge lies a second working fishing pier, Harford Pier, built in 1873, where once the Pacific Coast Railway line ran all the way out to its end. The pier is still one of the very few left in the state that you can still drive a car on.

With a population of under a thousand, Avila Beach is also home to one of the few remaining nude beaches in California. The infamous Pirate’s Cove, once used to smuggle in secret cargoes of liquor during prohibition, is now a protected and pretty little cove where bathing suits are “optional.” Pirate’s Cove is easy to find, but more secluded and a little harder to get to, requiring a steep and rocky climb down to the beach from its parking lot bluff.

Weather

Average temperatures vary little during the year, ranging from the 40s to 60s from November through April, and from the 50s to 80s from May through September. And since this is the warmest, most sheltered beach in the county, you can count on warmer temps here than in other parts of the county or even other beaches.

Packing List

Shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops are the year-round “uniform” here. But bring a jacket for cooler evenings and occasional wet winter days. Plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, sandals and hiking shoes are also suggested. And if you plan to go whale-watching, bring binoculars to catch these magnificent mammals up close.

Recommended