Last week my parents and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to San Luis Obispo, CA–I actually had a job interview out there, and we were able to extend the trip and stay a week in warm, beachy paradise! Today I’m sharing some photos (I took SO MANY PHOTOS) and some of what we did while we were there. It was super hard leaving the beach and the ocean, but all of the leaves are changing here in CO now and, you guys, it is so beautiful! Fall in CO is really something special. So even though I’m missing the beach and sand and surf like crazy, I’m happy to be home.
Here’s our trip in a snapshot:
Fly into LAX. Drive through the crazy traffic to SLO.We stopped at In-N-Out for our very first time…it is totally worth the hype! Definitely a must-have when in CA.
To break up the long drive, we stopped at a great little beach park near Santa Barbara called Rincon park.The fun thing in CA is that many beach parks allow dogs!
We stayed on a farm through Airbnb, which was the most amazing experience! For dinner, we walked around downtown SLO and stopped at Jaffa Cafe for some awesome gyros and falafel. We were also surprised to see 2 red macaw parrots flying overhead, it’s a local quirk which you can read about here.
Spent the day wandering around Morro Bay and Morro Rock.It’s a pretty beautiful area, with a cute little town around it. We didn’t explore the town much, but it looked like a lot of fun!
While searching for tide pools, we drove up to the Bluff Trail at Montana de Oro. We didn’t find any tide pools (it was too hot to hike very far that day), but looking down over those cliffs into the ocean sure was beautiful! There were some harbor seals hanging out on one of the rocks down there, which was fun to watch for a while.
We stopped at Beach Hut for some unique and tasty sandwiches (I ordered a sandwich with turkey and cranberry sauce and sprouts!) on the way back to Morro Rock, where we spotted a “clump” of at least 20 sea otters sleeping in the kelp. Those otters were incredible. We were really happy we brought our binoculars on this trip, because seeing the sea life up close is way cool. You can really see their little blond faces!
Day 3 + Day 4
Interview days for me. I ate lunch at Spirit of San Luis (airport cafe), sipped an iced coffee at Bello Mundo, enjoyed a turkey pesto sandwich at 6 Degrees (an awesome little coffee shop in Orcutt), and loved the carnitas tacos at Shell Beach Brewhouse. Carnitas is a new food love for me, but I’m totally obsessed with them now. Sorry for no pictures of food, by the way. I would get so wrapped up in eating that I pretty much forgot to take pictures of ALL the food I ate on this trip. Major face-palm moment.
After my interview on one of these days, I needed to relax, so we spent a few hours enjoying Pismo beach. I love me a good beach, and this was a good one. We saw lots of whale spouts off the beach, which was really fun to watch for! If you head out on the pier, you can get a close look at surfers catching waves, which I thought was really interesting to watch. I think I’d try surfing, but the ocean in CA is so cold!
We also walked around in downtown SLO, and I couldn’t help snapping some pictures by the gorgeous Mission San Luis Obispo.
We drove towards Avila beach, stopping along several pull-offs at Shell beach first. At Shell beach, we saw this huge rock off the cliff with probably more than 200 pelicans on it! Unfortunately it was a really foggy day, so my photos didn’t turn out amazing…The houses on that street had the best view, though. If I ever make it rich, remind me that’s where I want to live!
We spent some time checking out the San Luis pier at the North end of Avila beach. Basically, it’s an animal lover’s dream! We saw harbor seals, seat otters, and sea lions all hanging around the pier, which was so cool. It’s also a fun pier to check out because there are little fish markets and restaurants on it, which is neat. Plus, you can go down below the pier (which is a little creepy, but just try not to think about it)! We saw sea otters playing down there, and there’s a platform that the sea lions hang out on down there.
We drove back to Pismo beach and ate tacos at Papi’s Grill, which was so good! I had the carnitas special (remember how I told you I’m obsessed with carnitas?!) Just so you know, it’s a very casual place–order at the window and then sit on the little patio. The perfect place for tacos! (: After lunch, we headed back to Avila (Pismo beach was really foggy, and we wanted some sun!), and got our caffeine fix at Big Al’s coffee house. I ordered a Hawaiian shave ice, which was incredible. If you’re hanging at Avila, definitely head to this little coffee shop for coffee, tea, Hawaiian shave ice, or smoothies.
On the way back to our house, we stopped one more time at Morro Rock to see more otters. This time, a couple of them had babies lying on their stomachs! Bring your binoculars to California, you guys.
We had reserved a tour at Hearst Castle, so we spent most of the day near San Simeon. Our tour was amazing, and I loved that we were able to stay after the tour ended to walk around the gardens. Such an amazing story, it really reminded me of The Great Gatsby for some reason.
There’s this exit on the highway right up the road from Hearst Castle where elephant seals come ashore and sunbathe on the sand. Since fall is sort of the “off-season” I wasn’t expecting to see many, but there were at least 200 on the shore, and a few more in the waves! These animals are incredible, like nothing I’ve ever seen. They’re huge, and seeing them up close was really cool. I love that the whole area is a boardwalk, so people can’t get down to the beach to bother the animals, and volunteers are around to answer questions. Here’s the website, with a cool live cam!
Every Thursday night, Higuera St. in downtown SLO is transformed into the most amazing farm market. Lots of produce stands, local restaurants offering street food, and even street performers and bands! We ate this amazing woodfired pizza from Guiseppe’s. I ordered the margherita pizza and it was great!
Such a great trip. I hadn’t spent much time in CA before this visit, and I’d like to get back there every couple years! I loved the Central Coast, and would definitely recommend staying near SLO.