|My Jackson doing swing kung-fu on Pismo Beach.|
Last week was break for our boys from school- or as many people call it here, ski week. That is because most families take off to hit the slopes. We have had an unusually mild winter here in Northern Cal and the snow hasn't been too good up in the mountains, so we decided to road trip down South.
We had not been to California's central coast in some time. We thought it would be fun to see Pismo and Avila Beaches and check out San Louis Obispo, and the college for my engineer wannna be, Jackson. He is 13, but starting high school next year wanted to check out California Polytechnical at San Louis Obispo's famous engineering school.
|Mission San Miguel.|
My youngest, Griffin, is in 4th grade this year, and in California that means studying the California history and missions. Usually, you study California history all year and are assigned a mission to make a model of near the end. It's always fun to visit your mission if you can.
|One of the murals inside.|
Griffin chose San Miguel. San Miguel is pretty close, just a few hours south near Paso Robles, and a little gem in the chain of 21 missions. It was on our way down, so it was a perfect stop for us.
It was about an hour and half drive to San Miguel from the South Bay. The small town and mission are literally just off highway 101. The town in quite cute and has it's original storefronts still up from long ago. There is even an espresso stop/bakery that was converted from an old filling station and also a little pizza place we stopped for lunch.
After our stop, we headed down to Pismo Beach. Pismo, for those who aren't familiar, is one of the few beaches left in United States, and the only one in California, that you can drive onto. It's got lots of dunes and goes for miles.
It's pretty uncrowded and the beaches are wide open. We stayed at a place called Sandcastle Inn, right on the beach. It's small, but wonderful hotel with a cozy fireplace lobby. The staff there was nicer than The Four Seasons and that is not an exaggeration. We paid a great price for a roomy suite with a sitting area and dining room and a huge patio right over the beach.
|View from our suite.|
We also drove to Avila Beach, right up the road about 5 minutes. Avila is newly redone and has a darling little beachfront with lots of new shops and restaurants. They have a charming small waterfront.
It also has a pier with a cute restaurant, The Olde Port Inn, at the end where you can see the fish swim under you as you eat. We never did get to eat there, they were closed. Hopefully next time!
|Doesn't this place look cute? At the end of the pier in Avila Beach.|
Avila and Pismo are both great beaches to learn to boogie board or surf on because of their shallow break. They are many hotels right on the Avila waterfront that provide boogie boards. They are also adjacent to ocean front restaurants and it makes for an easy getaway weekend with a family.
|Ventana Grill and their great view of the Pacific.|
|A cute beach shack.|
|On a hike in Pismo.|
San Louis Obispo, is a small college town about 10 minutes inland. I didn't know much about SLO, as people call it, except that it has been voted, the happiest place in America to live. After visiting, I can clearly see why.
|The town of San Louis Obispo. via google images.|
This town is so pretty, nestled between the sea and the hills. My favorite part of the charming downtown is all the outdoor restaurants, which abound here. A river runs through it and many restaurants line the river. This is a large downtown, but it feels small. There are so many unique shops besides Pottery Barn and some large chains. I especially like the area near the San Louis Obispo Mission, which we also visited.
|Grif in front of San Louis Obispo Mission.|
There is a very cool outdoor Mexican cantina across from the mission. They also have a Cornish pasties shop, a fantastic coffee roasting spot, and some one-of-a-kind shops right in this vicinity. At one of these Griffin, my shopper son, bought this cute sign for his room.
|Elephant seals. The best viewing time in Jan-March.|
|Some views of Ragged Point.|
Not far past Hearst Castle we stumbled upon my favorite find of the trip, Ragged Point Inn and Restaurant. This piece of heaven on earth, came just about lunch time and so we sat outdoors and had lunch among hummingbirds and butterflies. Honestly, it was the prettiest patch of land above the ocean I have ever seen. You can also stay at this nirvana too.
|Lunch among the butterflies.|
After the kids explored the resort and gift shop, we hit their cappuccino bar (they also have a take-out lunch place), and continued on our way North. Here, you are at the beginning of Big Sur, which stretches a very long way, almost 90 miles from San Simeon to Carmel. The trip is scenic, but I don't think it gets really beautiful until you hit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where a waterfall hits the ocean, about an hour South of Carmel.
|View from Highway 1.|
|Bixby Bridge on Highway 1 in Big Sur.|
Photos Northern California Style, unless noted.