Arriving in Avila Beach
An Ideal Refuge For Everyone
cover photo ©by Kaitlyn Rodriguez 2016*
Central California is a gem in and of itself and while I’ve traveled up the coast multiple times, I had only ever been to Avila Beach to stop and grab a coffee as I headed further north. This month was the first time my family (cousin Kristen, niece Kaitlyn and my daughter, Barcelona) and I ventured to stay in this beautiful trove. In search of a place that would appeal to all age ranges and youthful curiosities, my daughter, cousin and niece headed to the Central Coast for 3 glorious days. First and foremost, before I tell you all about how incredible this town is, let me first help you pronounce it: á-vill-uh (the phonetic way of saying it). I learned from the locals how it’s actually pronounced.
Avila Beach is a town recently brought back to life after a tragic oil spill on it’s coast and as a result of having to completely rebuild, this little California spot got a reinvention of sorts. As you drive towards San Luis Obispo in search of their gorgeous wines and beautiful terrain, it’s the brightly colored vistas, cute little hotels and beachside community that draws you to Avila. The views are breathtaking, the town itself is divinely quaint and the multitude of things to do, wonderful. We wanted to share our adventures through the coast with you so below is an in-depth look at our 1st day in Avila.
We begin our trip into Avila with a stop at the Avila Valley Barn. Now sure, it seems like a regular spot but the lure of freshly grilled corn and artichoke hearts, the bright colors illuminating from inside the Farmer’s Market, and the sweet smells permeating through the air from the Sweet Shoppe are something you have to experience. We head straight into the Farmer’s Market where fresh stems of flowers, strawberry plants and a borage of honey welcome us. My niece, 16, and my daughter, 9, immediately find themselves enthralled in the plethora of fruit, darling displays and of course, the wafting intoxication of home baked pies, breads, and cookies. The pie, which we would soon indulge in at our hotel, looked like something you’d see in a culinary competition: pristine, beautiful, vibrant.
As we arrive at our hotel, Avila La Fonda Hotel, right at dusk. The charm of the Spanish exterior and the large wooden double doors welcome you and as they open, they do so with dramatic intention. Inside, a cozy fire is lit to soothe the chill from the dusk breeze coming in off of the ocean, and wooden benches, terracotta painted vases adorn various areas of the lobby. We arrive just as wine is bring poured, snacks are being put out and hotel guests come out to take part. This was only the beginning of the hospitality offered at La Fonda. From nachos and beer at noon, wine and cheese at happy hour, cookies in the afternoon, and pie and coffee at eight, there are a handful of great reasons to enjoy this particular hotel. Our rooms are fantastic and we agreed on opening the adjoining door to share the kitchen en suite. Aside from the cleanliness, both rooms also have massive Jacuzzi-tubs. My only real note was the hotel in-keep. She didn’t seem to really like people very much which was a challenge when fresh cookies were being baked and we were patiently waiting or they ran out of plates and more were needed. She quickly dismissed our presence as was the case with any guest that tried to ask her for something. That said, the rest of the staff were very helpful, the hotel is in a great location, and we were happy to be there.
Once we are settled in, we ventured out for a bike ride stopping by to pick up electric bikes at Pedego Electric Bike Shop. Debbie at the bike shop was absolutely incredible! All of us were new to the whole electric bike experience and she not only had so much patience, she was beyond gracious. We each picked out colored Mohawk helmets, I grabbed my first selfie stick she had for us to use (I had never used one prior to this!), and off we went. My daughter and I went for a double bike and my cousin and niece got their own bikes. While we all got the hang of it, it was one of the coolest bike rides going up to 25 mph! I highly recommend doing this! The girls rode all along the boardwalk, including the pier and we basked in the dusk lit ocean view for a bit before getting back and ready for our first dinner in Avila.
Now onto our first dinner of the trip at Sycamore Hot Springs in Avila Gardens. While the smell of sulfur springs penetrate your first senses as you arrive, it’s the smiling faces and sound of a happy crowd that soon take hold. As we wait for our table, we take a seat in the bar area to enjoy a glass of local wines and get the kids Shirley Temples (with extra cherries!). I start with a local Cab from Paso Robles and it doesn’t disappoint: big, hearty and robust. Shortly after, we are joined by Mark Elterman who tells us the story of the reinvention of the hot springs and the design architect behind it, Steven Puglisi, who also happens to be his father. In a few minutes to follow, we are taken to our table, situated in a beautiful, private room just to the right of the main dining room. The table is set and our appetites eagerly await what’s ahead. The kids have an exciting sense of adventure tonight and my daughter decides that she and my niece are going to split a Rib Eye, my cousin orders a filet, we order a variety of starters including scallops and we all explore dishes that utilize vegetables from their Chef’s Garden. I opt for an entirely vegetarian and gluten-free tasting and tonight’s guest chef, Jeffrey Strickner not only rises to the occasion but takes my palate to new heights. With curry soup to a gorgeous salad and one of the best quinoa dishes I’ve ever had, I hope they give him a permanent place here. His culinary creativity is what I’d expect from Los Angeles chefs. He is a great addition to the area. Our dessert however was the perfect finish. Jeffrey brought us housemade sorbet and a chocolate brownie with a caramel ice cream and bacon … this was dreamy.
A truly beautiful finish to our very first day in what quickly has become one of our favorite places.
Find out what the rest of our trip entailed in the next 2 articles:
- Surfing the Central Coast …
- Eating Our way Through Avila
Below is a glimpse at our stay but you can view the FULL PHOTO GALLERY by clicking HERE.
Book your family trip to Avila Beach on the Highway 1 Discovery Route below: