Eat, Drink and Be Trolley

This beachside town, pronounced "AHH-vih-luh," is packed with national wonders, hot springs, and wines and spirits.

  Avila Beach, Calif., is a seaside town nestled in the shelter of San Luis Bay, which is formed by Point San Luis to the west and Fossil Point to the east. Given its south-facing orientation and the elevation of Point San Luis, which knocks down the prevailing northwesterly winds, Avila Beach’s climate is typically much warmer than the surrounding coastline.

Guest moorings are available in the harbor on a first-come, first-served basis, and daily mooring rental is $17, with a 14-day limit. The near-shore moorings are only available from April through October and are only for use by boats up to 35 feet, while the outer buoys are for boats to 55 feet and are open year-round, so be sure to contact Harbor Patrol on VHF Channel 12 for assistance.

Between Avila Pier and Cal Poly Pier is available anchoring. From April through October, vessels may anchor for seven days without charge, and after seven days the anchoring fee is $9 per day ($19 per day November through March) for vessels less than 85 feet.

Avila Beach was home to the Chumash Indians, and later became a port city, servicing the city of San Luis Obispo. The name Avila is in reference to Miguel Avila, who owned the area’s land in 1842. A lighthouse was completed in 1890 and still stands today. Today, Avila Beach is primarily a tourist town.

A bounty of activities should meet anyone’s taste in Avila Beach. To embrace the natural essence of the area, the Pecho Coast Trail 3 hike to the lighthouse is the best bet. The moderate hike on one of the most scenic trails in the area boasts views of San Luis Bay, Avila Beach, and the port and ends at the famous Point San Luis Lighthouse, but to hike the trail, visitors must be a accompanied by a Pecho Coast Trail Guide. Hikes take place on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and commence at 9 a.m.

For some R&R head over to the Avila Hot Springs, discovered in 1907 by oil drillers. The springs are a popular hangout for locals and tourists, and visitors can soak all day for $12 in a two-foot-deep pool of natural mineral water purported to have healing properties. Avila’s vibrant downtown area is very close to the shoreline and features plenty of eateries, tasting rooms, and bars, so visitors can recharge and refuel after a long day of boating.

Blue Moon Over Avila is a fine-dining experience right at the base of Avila Beach Pier that features French-style cuisine and has an impressive wine, beer and spirits list. The Custom House is a bit farther down the street and offers New American seafood and a beautiful view. For a quick and healthy meal, Avila Market Restaurant & Mercantile has acai bowls, burgers and breakfast. For a handheld meal, go with Mission Pizza, right on the sand’s edge. Mission Pizza’s specialties are pizza and oven-baked sandwiches.

Several tasting rooms reside within a few blocks of one another on 1st Street. Croma Vera Tasting Room specializes in Spanish varietals such as Albarino and Tempranillo. It includes lounge seating and complimentary guest Wi-Fi. Morovino offers bold wines and interesting labels. Alapay Cellars 11 has a whimsical interior and a variety of wines from the central coast. Tasting is $10 per person but is complimentary with a bottle purchase. Avila Wine and Roasting Co. features a variety of wine, beer and coffee, and a tasting here is $8. Libertine Brewing tasting room offers complimentary pretzels and mustard, a record player and 12 rotating beers to taste.

A free trolley service runs from Avila Beach all the way to Pismo Outlets. Check the regional transit authority website for the seasonal schedules. Boaters who want to take a jaunt to the farmers market or to see the sights without worrying about walking or renting a car should investigate the trolley.

Avila Beach Golf Resort isn’t just for the duffers in the group. Its Concerts at the Cove venue hosts a wide variety of bands throughout the year in addition to other events, including food trucks and special holiday activities.

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