Our hotel from the night before was underwhelming, but we had purposely attempted to save some money on a place we were staying for just one night. We loaded up our belongings and started off for breakfast. In my planning from the night before, I had decided to forego the Hearst Castle tour as I believed Weston and Lila would have not have done well on it. We took the kids to Linn’s Restaurant for some muffins, danishes and cinnamon rolls, along with some hot tea.
It was a nice place and we wished that our decision for dinner had been here instead of Indigo Moon. Next, we headed to Boni’s Tacos which thankfully was open because their food truck early on weekends.
I ordered some authentic tacos and Brooke got some potato taquitos. Both were fantastic and some of the best food we had eaten to date on this trip. While we did eat some on the way, we saved the rest to eat while the kids played on the playground at Shamel Community Park on Moonstone Beach.
It didn’t take long for the ocean to call us all and we made our way down to Moonstone Beach to put our feet in the water and explore. We dug through numerous stones to look for Moonstones.
I think we found a few and Weston found the largest one. While on the beach, Brooke saw a seal swimming up toward the beach and ran out to watch it closer. We left Moonstone Beach and headed inland on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to San Luis Obispo (SLO).
What a cool town! It hosts Cal Poly and some other higher education facilities, but the main stretch was a cool little town and would be a nice place to spend a night or two another time. We stopped for the kids at Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab , which mentioned some cool things like watching them make ice cream and an ice cream waterfall.
While we didn’t see either, we did eat some really great ice cream. Next, we walked down the street to Bubble Gum Alley. This is a strange, narrow alley way where thousands of people have stuck their chewed gum on the walls (and anywhere else that can be reached or dropped). We decided to partake and I found some gum at a local CVS. A few chews later and we had our Instagram photo op complete.
Because Brooke isn’t an ice cream fan, we had to satisfy her sweet tooth and did so at SLO Doughnuts. A short drive down PCH later and we pulled into our next stop at the Avila Valley Barn . This reminded us of other visit/tourist farms, with a shop of produce and baked goods, a store with ice cream and treats and animals to feed. We were most looking forward to some U-Pick of the local Olallieberries (a type of blackberries), but because of the current drought, it was not active. The kids enjoyed the freshly roasted corn on the cob, feeding the goats and sheep and riding the on the hay ride.
A little while later and we headed into Avila Beach. The primary (and sole) purpose of our trip into Avila Beach was to follow a tip I had stumbled across in my research from the night before.
Someone mentioned that out on Port San Luis Pier that a little known set of stairs headed down to a lower dock where sea lions like to lounge. We drove into the town, which boasted a really cool beach area and looked extremely crowded. I turned our fully packed and over sized Ford Expedition down the crickety pier and abided by the 5 MPH guideline as we nervously and noisily drove down to the end of the pier.
The directions I had come across were not exactly clear, so it took a bit to find where to go (and to find a parking spot). Finally, our ears led us to the set of stairs and Brooke headed down while I temporarily parked in the handicap parking spot. A sign stating that Sea Lions Bite and a warning sign about the animals gave away that we had found it!
Brooke bounded back up the stairs with excitement letting me know of the Sea Lions below. Sea Lions are her absolute favorite animals and to have the opportunity to get within 10 feet of them in a natural setting was a dream come true.
We took turns looking at the Sea Lions and letting the kids carefully go down to the lower dock. Brooke spent a good deal of time down there watching them, taking pictures and saw a Seal and another Sea Lions in the water as well.
We made the drive back down the pier to solid ground again and then south on PCH to Pismo Beach, CA with a first stop at Dinosaur Caves Park. This had a playground with lots of things for the kids to climb on.
It was getting late and hunger was calling again, so we made a quick exit from there into the main tourist area of Pismo Beach, CA looking for some dinner. We were able to snag a parking spot (no easy task on 4th of July weekend in Pismo Beach) and walked to Chip Wrecked for a dinner for different specialty hand fried chips and sandwiches. Pismo Beach reminded me somewhat of Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach. We headed back to the car and made an attempt to watch the sunset at Butterfly Beach in Monticento, CA, but just did not have enough time to make it down in time. So, we completed the rest of the drive into Studio City, CA and our next stop at our vacation town home. This was a cool place – three story town home with a rooftop deck and a set of bunk beds in a room for the kids. Most importantly for us at this time though, a washer and dryer, garbage disposal and dishwasher! Off to bed after unloading and some unpacking (and a head start on laundry – there was a lot to catch up on).
This is day 12 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016. Make sure to check out the entire trip!