Friday, February 26, 2021

SLO, Avila and Pismo Weekend Trip

We needed a change of scenery a few weeks back and decided to take a trip to SLO/Pismo Beach area. There are tons of great Airbnb locations here, but we wanted a pool so we went through to stay at the Best Western Royal Oak which is near the Madonna Inn.

SLO is family friendly. 
* Bubblegum Alley might be the strangest tourist attraction you come across. 

* The Maino Open Space has 2 kid friendly hikes, both about 2.5 miles. They are both considered moderate, however the Lemon Grove Loop is the easier of the two. The M trail loop leads you to the large M on the hillside and requires gaining more altitude. They both take you through the historic lemon grove. The trails are closed after heavy rain because they are too muddy.

Historic Lemon Grove

Lemon Loop

M Loop

The View of the City

*Apple picking at SLO Creek Farms. Review

Apple Picking 

SLO Creek Farm

*Restaurants: High Street Deli is an awesome sandwich place with the best lettuce wrap job I have seen. 5 Guys is a chain, but its a great burger and we don't have one in SB. Tahoe Joe's is a good steakhouse (also a chain but a fav of my in laws). Mo’s Barbeque is tasty and met our need for barbecue (since Santa Barbara is lacking). Doc Burnsteins is the place to go for ice cream. 

High Street Deli

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: SLO Children's Museum

Avila Beach is home to the hot springs.
* Avila Valley Barn is fun with hay and pony rides (not currently operating). You can feed farm animals and buy sweets. It is especially fun at Halloween and Christmas.  Review

Avila Valley Barn

Feeding the Animals

Pony Rides

Christmas Tree Lots

* You can soak in natural hot springs at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. While you can stay overnight, they can also be rented by the hour. It is a bit stinky but relaxing. You can also swim or soak at Avila Hot Springs and this is a cheaper night's stay. 

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: Central Coast Aquarium (Currently open Thursday Friday 12-3 and Saturday/Sunday 1-4), the hike to the Port San Luis Lighthouse and Avila Beach

Pismo has many sights to see for families.
Pismo Monarch Preserve traditionally has more butterflies than the Goleta one and it has the bonus that if you follow the nature path you walk out to the dunes for a great nature walk (we looped back along the beach--no ATVs here-- and it was still less than 2 miles). There are no docents there right now, but they recorded their info for field trips and such.

Butterfly Area

Butterfly Area 

Path to the Coast (Boardwalk)


Dinosaur Caves Park is a great park with a unique playground for all kids (it may merit its own post someday). There are many climbing areas, swings, a merry-go-round and a spinning dome (like at Wallis Park). 

Climbing Areas

Climbing Web


Dino Eggs

Elmer Ross Beach is a tiny beach that can be amazing at low tide! We walked down toward the Inn at the Cove just before low tide and saw a wonderland of crabs, sea anemones, hermit crabs, and a few sea urchins.



Sea Anemone

*Restaurants: Mo’s Barbeque is tasty and met our need for barbecue (since Santa Barbara is lacking). 5 Guys is a chain, but its a great burger and we don't have a location in SB. We really wanted to try House of the Rising Buns for sandwiches, but they were out of bread. 

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: Pismo Pier and Promenade complete with a surrey ride and the Pismo Preserve (this is closed on the weekends for now). 

Other spots nearby
* Oceano has the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville Review (currently closed). It is truly campy, but fun with 3 acts (normally a melodrama--boo, hiss, cheer--in two parts, then the song and dance vaudeville review). Oceano also  has the Rock and Roll Diner is in a train car (food is meh, but the location is unique).
* Arroyo Grande has chickens roaming in Centennial Park and Heritage Square Park with a walking bridge in between. And another Doc Burnsteins on Branch Street. There is the amazing ice cream, but also a huge train set all around the upper interior. There is also Mustang Water Park (currently closed). 
* If you are willing to drive a bit further north, the Elephant Seals in San Simeon are worth it especially in December through March. 

Related Posts:
Avila Valley Barn
SLO Creek Farms
Easy Day Trips

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