Just down the coast from Morro Bay, and approximately 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles sits the tiny coastal town of Avila Beach. Recovered from an oil spill that plagued it in the 1990s, this charming stretch of beach offers a quiet alternative to the larger, nearby towns, while still offering a host of perks for the visitors who take the time to get to know it. Where to Stay Despite the size, there are a number of options for people hoping to find a comfortable home base. From posh resorts to smaller vacation rentals, the options are there. One of my favorites is the Inn at Avila Beach. With ocean front suites and amenities such as free freshly baked cookies and pies each night, it's hard to beat. Weekly rates are particularly reasonable, and its location means you are in the heart of the city. Park your car in their free parking lot, and the city's walkability makes it likely that you won't move it again before you leave. Where to Lunch If you want something casual in the heart of town, the Avila Grocery is a great choice. They have a wide-range of hot food and deli options, as well as snacks and other goodies. There is eating space inside, as well as a small number of tables outside. Fat Cats Cafe is another local favorite. It's a bit further out on Harford Drive, but its diner vibe and great views make it worth driving over. Where to Get Sand Between Your Toes Avila Beach is easily accessible from several points off of Front Street. The beaches are clean and sandy with relatively fewer beach-goers setting up tents during the week – particularly during the off-season. Temperatures in the area are usually mild even in the winter months with February routinely seeing 70-degree weather. If you are feeling adventurous, you may want to get directions to Pirate's Cove. It's a secluded, clothing-optional beach that's a bit of a drive and then a hike, but a popular option for people looking to escape into nature. Where to Happy Hour Despite its size, Avila Beach does offer up a number of options for a nice libation (or two). Mr. Rick's is on Front Street and is the only bar in the downtown area. However, if you'd prefer a tasting, consider visiting either the Avila Grocery (the wine cellar is downstairs), or Avila Wine & Roasting Company on San Miguel. They offer up tastes by the flight, glass and bottle. They mostly serve from boutique wineries and local breweries. PierFront is one of my favorite spots. It's located on Front Street, and has both inside and outside lounging areas. In addition to wine, beer and champagne, they sell light appetizers. We splurged on some Prosecco and enjoyed the fading sun from their outside patio. Where to Dine Dinner spots are sprinkled throughout Avila Beach, and offer up a wide variety of food options, including locally-caught seafood. If your mood runs to the casual, the Old Custom House is a good choice. It has a large menu and inside and outside dining areas. This is an easy spot and because the view (and people watching) is so captivating, they don't hurry you along even during the busy dinner hour. Other spots that might intrigue you include romantic options such as Ocean Grill on Front Street (coastal California delights) or the Gardens of Avila Restaurant which is part of the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.
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