chowda, wine, and beaches OH MY!
A week and a half ago, I got to spend a few days in Avila Beach. This area is my favorite place in the entire world (even beating out Cape Town, which says a lot). It's been over a week, but I'm still having daydreams of the clam chowder, wine, and beautiful beaches.
I have gone to Pismo/Avila Beach multiple times a year since I was born. It's just a pretty 4 to 5 hour drive up the coast. When I was younger, we used to bring our trailer up to a local campground and spend weeks at a time. My childhood memories are filled with early mornings surf sessions, clam chowder bread bowls, the scent of my mom's chili coming from the trailer, board games, my bed somehow always full of the day's sand, tide pools and never remembering how to pronounce anemone, and collecting sand dollars on the beach. During high school, my family sold the trailer (and endless memories...clearly not bitter). However, we continued most of these traditions, but in a hotel. Upside: at least the beds were comfier and the showers were bigger!
Honestly, I didn't really think we'd take a family vacation this summer. We spent bucket of money splurging on a Hawaiian trip last year, I thought I would have a job by now (ha), it's hard for my parents to get time off, and in the past year or two, my family hasn't always gotten along.
But, when push came to shove, we booked a trip and headed up for the 4th of July weekend (spoiler alert: I'm scared of fireworks).
I started the trip feeling a little off. Something rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn't put a name to it. I was happy, the weather was beautiful, and the world (well, the beach) was my oyster. As the trip went on, I started to realize it. It was unspoken, but this trip was different than our previous trips. Even during the past years where my sister and I brought friends along, we still retained the same camping traditions. This year there wasn't any trace of my childhood memories at Pismo. I didn't experience my mom's once-a-year cooking, we didn't all camp out at the beach together, there were no s'mores or seashells, we didn't get our sleepy-eyed morning cinnamon rolls, and I didn't even bring my surfboard. More than that, we spent a lot of our trip doing our own thing and relaxing separately.
I had a hard time realizing times were really shifting. It hit me when I was wading up to my knees (brr) in the Pacific, looking around and not recognizing a single person around me. I was the only one to go the beach that day, and it all hit. Yes, I had graduated and yes, my sister was in college, and yes, we were all older and had experienced big life changes...but, my one constant had finally changed too. Yikes.
Granted, I did have a fun time. I learned to establish some new traditions for myself at least and finally broke from my comfort zone and tried some new things. I spent my mornings running to watch the sunrise, swimming and playing in the sand, taking long walks and rediscovering my love for photography, sipping coffee on our porch that looked onto the woods. Plus, I got to ride a beach cruiser--something I had always wanted to do! Even better, I got to go wine tasting! Avila has some well-known wineries and now that I was of age, I could go. Wasn't tide pools or sand dollars, but I gotta say the delicious red wine helped. No complaints there!
It's weird to acknowledge change. It's always happening, but once I saw it in a place I was so familiar with, it became more real.
Thanks Pismo & Avila Beach for the fond memories. It's time to create some, new updated ones. Hope to see you soon.
If you do find yourself in the San Luis Obispo/Avila Beach/Pismo Beach area, here are my suggestions (old & new):
Downtown San Luis Obispo: This area is so cute. There's so many great surf shops, restaurants, and a really cool mission to tour. Typically, they hold street fairs in the summer. Check those out!
- Culton Winery: This was 1 of 2 places my dad and I went tasting at. They had a fantastic granache, but my favorite was the Mercenary! Located in downtown Avila Beach; $12 for a tasting + price of bottles vary
- Sinor-LaVallee Winery: This was 2 of 2 places my dad and I went tasting at. This is a new winery, so their bottles are all pretty recent and not aged much, but I fell in love with their syrah. Located in downtown Avila Beach; $10 for a tasting + price of bottles vary
- Joe Momma's Coffee Shop: I'm a big fan of Intelligentsia Coffee & they brew it here! Joe Momma's is located across from the beach. I recommend sipping a vanilla latte on the pier and watching the sunrise/sunset or bringing an iced coffee down to the sand with a good book. Located in downtown Avila Beach.
- Avila Valley Barn: This place makes me want to squeal it's just so cute. This barn is known for all local produce, cheese, honey, you name it. The cherries & nectarines are great. Not to mention, they have an on-site bakery that uses their produce. I recommend the cherry crisp and zucchini bread. The barn also has an on-site fudge, ice cream, and deli shop. Yum. During the summer, the barn sells fresh corn on the cob with toppings of your choice for just $2 too! Best part: there's so many goats, sheep, horses, and chickens on property that you can feed! Located in Avila Beach.
- Splash Cafe: This hole-in-the-wall, perpetual line-out-the-door joint has won national awards for its clam chowder. It lives up to its hype easily. The chowder is perfect fuel after a long day at the beach when Pismo starts to get a bit chilly. Other winners: the fish & chips and the chili bread bowl. Located in downtown Pismo Beach.
- Pancho's: Located just down the street from Splash, Pancho's is a local surf shop. I'm always finding cute clothes here, as well as Rainbows sandals. They have a huge selection of clothes, accessories, and surf gear for men and women. Located in downtown Pismo Beach.
- Bob Jones Trail: This paved trail winds through Avila. It's made for walkers, runners, and bikers and leads to the beach. The trail is beautiful and takes you through a wooded area and drops you at the beach. Best of both worlds! Located in Avila Beach.
- Shell Beach Dinosaur Park: Shell Beach is just between Avila & Pismo. This is a cute park that sits on the cliffs. It's the perfect place to take a walk and watch the sunset. Art fairs and street festivals are held here weekly too! Located in Shell Beach.
- Pismo Monarch Grove: Pismo is known for its monarch butterflies. If you go during peak season, there's hundreds of thousands of the butterflies in the huge trees. They're gorgeous, and there's so much to learn about them.
- Pismo Beach & Avila Beach: These beaches are great. Both have different personalities, but I love them equally. The water may be chilly, so bring a wetsuit!