Avila Beach and town

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San Luis Obispo, CA
Avila Beach and town
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NOTE: Do not let your kids play where the San Luis Obispo Creek comes out into the ocean. There are many violations at the sewer plant, and its effluent is released into this creek.

A day spent at Avila Beach is a real treat! There are so many gorgeous views in all directions! The drive to Avila Beach along Avila Beach Drive is lovely, with its hills that lead to the sea. Then you arrive at Avila Beach and you can't believe what a gem you've found! Parking at the top of high cliffs, you walk down steep Front Street, enjoying sweeping views of the beach and its long pier. At the main section of Front Street, a pedestrian-only street, it's so perfect and pristine a main strip that you wonder if you're in Disneyland! Have lunch at the Custom House Restaurant, which has decent food (avoid the fish tacos, or fish and chips, and choose the BLT sandwich instead) and great atmosphere on its sunny patio (bring a jacket- the sea air is cold). Historically, Avila Beach was a steamship harbor and new arrivals would come to this building. Now it's a restaurant with a charming outdoor patio looking out on the blue sea. Most Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm (sometimes 4pm), and Sundays at 4pm you can hear the live music next door at Mr. Rick's for four hours, and it's fantastic. For a quicker snack, sit by the window and have an acai bowl at the Avila Beach Market- the receipt has the restroom code on it. Hula Hut has ice cream and boba tea with plenty of colorful seating by windows.
On Fridays at 4pm there's a farmer's market with live music, on the promenade. It can get crowded with limited parking, so come early.
Next, there's the beach to explore! To the west is the long pier (which is closed for repair). Underneath you can stand in its shade and watch all the children jumping over large waves and the mothers screaming frantically for them to come closer to shore! 
Another shady spot is under the bridge by where the river meets the ocean. It's beautiful to stand here and watch little waves collide. 
The east side of the beach is my favorite part. Here you can walk among geological wonders. Look up at the yellow cliffs and then continue around the bend to the blinding white cliffs. I like to sit here, where there are far less people, and have the little cove to myself. If you sit against the wall, there is no more cold wind off the ocean hitting your face and ears- it's wonderful!
On San Juan Street, at the far west end of Front Street, there's a pirate playground with wooden bridge, dolphin sculptures to climb, ship with pirate holding a telescope, sand pit, play structure, bouncy horses, little boulders, and swings. What a nice atmosphere! On the west side of the beach, there are twelve swings for kids in the sand!
You can see jellies, giant octopus, horseshoe crabs, starfish, sting rays, baby sharks and interesting exhibits at the Central Coast Aquarium near the playground, open 12-3 Thurs-Sun.
While in the area, check out the stunning views and enjoy a hike at Pirate's Cove.
Don't miss out on a blissful experience eating at Mersea's (avoid the fish tacos), a counter service cafe with outdoor seating at the end of Harford Pier. The views from Harford Pier are incredible on both sides! It's also nice to park your car so you can stay in the shade and watch the pelicans and sailboats bobbing in the water at Fisherman's Beach and Olde Port Beach, which are on the way to Harford Pier on Avila Beach Drive.
After a day by the salty sea, you need a sweet treat- pick some fresh berries or grab an ice cream at Avila Valley Barn. A lovely three mile shady walk to do is the Bob Jones Bike Path.
If you're visiting on Wednesday or Saturday, reserve at tour at Point San Luis Lighthouse, for a memorable two hours, with gorgeous views of the coast.
Check out the live music at Avila Beach Golf Resort, also called Mulligan's Bar and Grill, Thurs-Sat 5-7pm, and Sun 2-4pm! It's hard to find the live music schedule on their website- click on Mulligan's Bar and Grill across the top of the page, and then choose Live Music from the dropdown menu.
If it's September to November, pick some delightful dahlias, cosmos, and sunflowers at SLO Creek U-Pick, which is close to Avila. It is an organic farm in a pretty setting, open Thurs-Mon.

Continue to directions...

Front Street, by the boardwalk!

Bike-riding along Front Street.

Laying out by the pier.

View to the west from under the pier!

Front Street, and the rolling hills behind.

Yellow cliff face and boulder, the east side of the beach.

Yellow, white, and green: my favorite side of the beach, the east side.

I LOVE these white cliffs!

BBQ by the west end of the beach.

Basketball court with a view- by the playground.

Avila Beach is so colorful!

First Street.

I like these orange and blue apartments by the playground.

Custom House Restaurant has a sunny patio across from the water.

Little swimmers west of the pier. The water is COLD year round.

Relaxing and enjoying the good food at Custom House Restaurant.

You can walk above the beach or lay in the warm sand to defrost from the cold air.

Colorful tile design on the promenade.

Beautiful cliffs frame the beach and its bright blue sea.

Front Street is filled with cheerful buildings.

Custom House Restaurant on the colorful promenade by the water.

Kraken Coffee on a street corner (San Luis St and Front St).

A couple enjoys a meal outside at Custom House Restaurant.

Yellow spring wildflowers along the road that leads into Avila Beach.

Flowers by the sea.

Starfish sculpture on the wall.

Swings in the sand!

Bird of Paradise flowers with aquarium in the background.

Mix of blue daisies and pink flowers.

Walking and checking out the shops.

Colorful Custom House Restaurant.

Front Street is lovely.

Walkway over the sand.

Avila Beach is gorgeous!

Lifeguard shack at Avila Beach.

Young women having lunch at Custom House Restaurant.

Couple sitting at the pirate playground. Central Coast Aquarium and the wonderful hills and forest behind.

Ocean-themed shop exterior on Front Street.

Sunset at the west end of Avila Beach.

Playing on the beach at sunset.

Laying in the sand as the sun goes down.

Relaxing on the lawn by the playground.

The wide beach.

Nice day at the beach.

Sailboats off shore.

The playground in the sand.

Swings with a view!

Swimming on a September day.

Picnic in the sand.

Bike riding on the main street.

Sitting on a dolphin sculpture at the playground.

The drive into town is beautiful.

The perfect beach.

The sand is nice!

The pier is long. Currently it's being repaired.

View of the beach from the main street.

It's nice to sit in Avila Beach Market and drink an iced tea or have an acai bowl from downstairs.

Silvery shoreline and fog rolling in at sunset.

Pretty evening at the pier.

I love the Spanish architecture of Avila La Fonda Hotel. I want to see it more often in SLO county!

Lanterns and Spanish tiles on Avila La Fonda Hotel.

Cypress trees and pretty houses on San Miguel Street.

Our Lady of Guadalupe on tiles, and a string of flowers. So sweet!

Wine bar with green umbrellas on Front Street.

The pier at sunset.

I love the views toward Port San Luis.

Firepit at Custom House.

Avila Beach is dreamy at sunset.

Walking by the pier at sunset.

Tables outside Hula Hut, the ice cream place, with a view of the water.

Stuffed animals in a gift shop.

Blue water under the pier.

Cute headland.

Lifeguard shack with a view.

View of the water from the French winery.

Surf shop!

Colorful architecture on 1st Street.

View of Mulligan's from the bridge on Avila Beach Dr.

View of the creek, from the bridge on Avila Beach Dr.

Wonderful views from Hula Hut, where they sell ice cream.

Spanish fountain at Avila La Fonda.

Rock and kelp on the sand.

View of Mulligan's, from the far end of the beach.

View of Mulligan's and the creek, from under the bridge that is Avila Beach Drive.

Rock at the far end of the beach, creek, bridge, and yellow flowers.

Tree from Australia and bridge over the creek, with rock in the distance.

Picnic tables and bbq in the sand.

Kraken Coffee and its outdoor seating with a stripey umbrella.


From Highway 101, follow the signs to Avila Beach Drive. Once you're on Avila Beach Drive, you will pass a sign that says "Avila Beach- next 3 intersections." Turn left after that, on San Luis Street. Turn left on 1st Street. Continue until you find a parking space along the road. It's a walk down to the beach but it's better than paying for parking down by the beach on First Street.
You can also park for free on San Juan Street by the playground, but these spaces are often taken. There is plenty of free parking along Avila Beach Road by the golf course right before you get to San Juan Street.
There are showers and restrooms at the beach.
Central Coast Aquarium, 50 San Juan St, Avila Beach CA 93424, call (805) 595-7280. Open Thurs-Sun 12-3. Cost is $9 for adults, $7 for children aged 3-12, $6 for seniors, and free for kids aged 2 and under.
Custom House Restaurant, 404 Front Street, Avila Beach CA 93424, call (805) 595-7555.
Avila Beach Market, 354 Front Street, Avila Beach CA 93424, call (805) 595-2500.
Mr. Rick's (live music Sundays 1pm), 404 Front St, Avila Beach, CA 93424.


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Add your comments
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Tue, 13 Jul 2010

Breath taking....

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Sun, 20 Sep 2009

I grew up in Avila Beach, lived there most of my life. From our house we used to take long steep walks down to the beach. I remember almost always having the entire beach to ourselves. Great beach!

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Sat, 20 Apr 2019

An amazing amount of things to see and do. Playground for the kids, aquarium, shops, beach play, cafes, coffee.

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Fri, 23 Oct 2009

THANK YOU SSOOOOOOOOO much!!!! I'm so excited...

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Fri, 06 Nov 2009

The pirate ship playground is a fave.

Last Updated: Sat, 18 May 2024 15:03:33 GMT

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