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After a memorable day of apple tasting at Creekside Farms, and California wine-country cuisine at the Gardens of Avila Restaurant, we relaxed in the Jacuzzi at Lighthouse Suites, our home base while visiting the seaside town of Avila Beach.
In the morning, we enjoyed the hotel’s complementary buffet breakfast and then drove a couple miles down the coast to Port San Luis Harbor, where we strolled along the 1,320-ft-long Harford Pier. Originally built in 1878 by John Harford, this massive dock is one of the last piers that the public can still drive a car on, as there are about 10 parking spots at the end for the local businesses.
We parked in a large public lot lot near the pier entrance that also features RV camping nearby and boats maintenance areas. On the pier we saw fishermen preparing their daily catch, while giant pelicans watched over them, and we encountered a herd of sea lions jostling for sleeping spots on the wooden deck below.
Before leaving the pier, we had a fresh seafood lunch at Pete’s Pierside Cafe & Fish Market (www.petespiersidecafe.com). While sitting on the patio above the water, we enjoyed ceviche, with fresh fish, herbs, onions, bell peppers, cilantro, and jalapenos marinated in lemon and served on a tostada; and an order of deep fried Washington oysters and chips, with Pete’s famous Red Potato Fries and homemade cocktail sauce.
After lunch we drove to the historic Port of San Luis Lighthouse (www.SanLuisLighthouse.org). Also known as the San Luis Opisbo Light Station, this is the last Prairie Victorian model lighthouse left on the West Coast of the United States.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse was encouraged by President Andrew Johnson in 1867 and was built in 1889. By 1890 whaling vessels, cargo ships, tankers and fishing boats were all guided around the treacherous point into the safe harbor. And until 1933 the Lighthouse projected a beam of light 20 miles out to sea from one kerosene lamp set high in its tower, by collecting all the lamp’s light with over 100 Lenses made by French craftsman.
From the old lighthouse we drove back to the modern Lighthouse Suites, where we rested on our room’s private balcony. I then walked next door and practiced my game on an awesome outdoor basketball court, located across the street from the ocean. My friend then joined me and we explored downtown Avila Beach.
Located on the Central Coast, equal distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Avila Beach is surrounded by gentle, sloping hills and three piers. It boasts tons of small-town charm and a perfect microclimate, making it a great region for wine.
In fact, during our stay we discovered the Avila Wine and Roasting Co. (www.avilawinecompany.com), a hip and fun wine tasting bar and wine shop, where we had a tasting of local wine, while sitting on a stone laid patio steps from the beach.
For more information on Avila Lighthouse Suites, call 800-372-8452 or visit: www.avilalighthousesuites.com. For more info on Gardens of Avila Restaurant, visit: www.sycamoresprings.com/taste. For Creekside Farm, visit: www.weatherelement.com/creeksidefarms or call 805-595-9515. And for general info on Avila Beach, visit: www.visitavilabeach.com/
-Photo by Greg Aragon