LA Weekend Getaway: San Luis Obispo

by Mary Jo Manzanares on April 12, 2011

Avila Beach Pier

If you’re looking to escape the big city vibe of LA, San Luis Obispo County is a scenic three and a half hour drive up the coast making it close enough, yet far enough away, for a long weekend getaway.

San Luis Obispo County includes the communities of Avila Beach, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos, Nipomo, Oceano, San Simeon, and unincorporated San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, and Morro Bay.  Between these communities, visitors have dozens of choices on how to spend their time, whether you’re looking for luxurious pampering, a nature experience, or merely want time to yourself.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

  • Luxury Junkies: Indulge in a couple’s massage at Sycamore Mineral Springs, then lounge in your own private in-room natural hot spring. Finish the day with a candlelight dinner at the Gardens of Avila Restaurant on their private veranda above the dining room.
  • Outdoor Enthusiasts: Wake up early for coffee at The Garden Café in Los Osos, then haul your kayaks out for a paddle around the Morro Bay Estuary. Round out a busy day with a hike through Montana de Oro State Park and a picnic at Spooner’s Cove, with a view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
  • History Buffs: Awake to a sumptuous breakfast in Cayucos’ historic Cass House Inn, built in 1867 by Captain James Cass, then head up to Hearst Castle for a walk back in time. Close the day atop the windswept Piedras Blancas lighthouse, built in 1875. History buffs who prefer modern day conveniences in their lodging choices can choose from a myriad of charming inns, hotels and vacation rentals along the coast.
  • Pet Lovers: Take your four-legged best friend on a beach walk to hunt for sea glass on Moonstone Beach and then enjoy a delicious dinner on the patio of Robin’s Restaurant in Cambria. Avila Beach, a bit further south, features leash-free beaches and the La Fonda Hotel and the Custom House Restaurant happily hosts four legged guests.
  • Wine Aficionados: Sink into a bed at Suite Edna, a plush farm stay cottage retreat in the heart of Edna Valley. Take in endless vineyard views before embarking on a leisurely tour of the region’s top wineries from Arroyo Grande to Avila Beach, and in the Edna Valley.
  • Link Lovers: Grab breakfast at the Butterfly Grille before taking in a round of golf at Monarch Dunes. Build up an appetite before heading over to Adelina’s Bistro for dinner, where you can dine on fresh, sumptuous fare made from local ingredients.
  • Gallery Hoppers: Wake up to the aromas of coffee and freshly baked bread at one of Cambria’s many Bed and Breakfast Inns. Then wander through the town’s many galleries, finishing with a drive to the tiny hamlet of Harmony to witness Harmony Glassworks artists at work.
  • Homebodies: Sleep late at San Simeon’s Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in a terrace-oceanfront room with wood-burning fireplace and private patios. Read the newspaper in bed, call for room service from the Cavalier Restaurant, and enjoy the sound of crashing waves. After dinner, kick back on your ocean front Adirondack chair, sip a hot drink and cook another S’more by the warmth of your own fire pit.
  • Wildlife Lovers: Take a long drive along beautiful Highway 1 and witness the natural beauty of the Central Coast’s migratory wildlife, from sea elephants at the rookery in San Simeon to whale-watching at Port San Luis in Avila Beach to Monarch butterflies at the habitat in Pismo Beach.
  • Hopeless Romantics: Start a romantic weekend waking up with a French-pressed coffee and banana-pecan waffles at the Kaleidescope Inn in Nipomo, then make your way to the Healing Touch Day Spa for a couple’s massage. Once you are thoroughly relaxed, hop into a hired car for an afternoon of wine tasting and picnicking in Arroyo Grande, culminating in a two flutes of sparkling wine and a picture-perfect sunset at Laetitia Vineyards and Winery hilltop winery.

Photo credit: HeyPaul via flickr (Avila Pier)

| Mary Jo Manzanares is a founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine proving informational and inspirational travel recommendations for curious Baby Boomer travelers. She has been a speaker at various industry events and has a personal travel blog at Traveling with MJ. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Mary Jo's top travel destinations are Italy, Portugal, and the Caribbean.

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