Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Avila Beach, CA

  • Published 2022/10/03

Avila Beach, a quaint and unassuming beach town located in San Luis Obispo County, is one of California’s hidden gems.

Tourists often visit this picturesque town for its warm weather, stunning landscapes, clear beaches, and historic sites.

Though it may be lacking in size, this town offers lots of outdoor activities that travelers can participate in all year round.

It features a pet-friendly beach, scenic trails, and natural hot springs that all visitors can enjoy.

If you plan on going on a solo trip or a weekend getaway soon with your friends or family, you should consider checking out Avila Beach.

Here are the 20 best things to do in Avila Beach, California:

Spend Some Quality Time With Your Loved Ones at Downtown Avila Beach

View of Downtown Avila Beach

HannaTor /

Another beach that you should go to is Downtown Avila Beach.

You and your friends or family can engage in a friendly sports competition in one of the beach’s basketball and volleyball courts.

If you are traveling with your kids, you can take them to the swings and slides for a more enjoyable time at the beach.

Buildings at Downtown Avila Beach

HannaTor /

You can also prepare a delectable meal for your loved ones, as there are barbecue pits available as well.

There are picnic tables that you can also use to ensure that you and your loved ones can eat comfortably.

Just remember to go to the beach early, so you can get a great spot where you can relax and enjoy the view.

If you want to try various water activities, you can rent a bodyboard, a wetsuit, and even a kayak on the beach.

Fountain at Downtown Avila Beach

HannaTor /

Go for a Bike Ride at Bob Jones City to the Sea Trail

Aerial view of the Bob Jones City to the Sea Trail

Carlos Demetrio /

One of the most exciting ways to see Avila Beach is by embarking on an outdoor adventure.

The Bob Jones City to the Sea Trail offers a short but scenic walking and biking trail that starts from the Ontario Road to downtown Avila Beach.

Whether you are an experienced cyclist or not, the trail is fun, easy, and safe to explore, as it is well-maintained and mostly flat.

If you want to take a break from the busy city life, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy stunning views of lush greenery, do not forget to put Bob Jones City to the Sea Trail on your itinerary when you visit Avila Beach.

Book a Historic Tour at Point San Luis Lighthouse

Front View of Point San Luis Lighthouse

mikluha_maklai /

Get your camera ready as you visit this 30-acre historic landmark.

The only remaining Prairie Victorian lighthouse on the whole West Coast, Point San Luis Lighthouse, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Avila Beach that you should definitely not miss.

To know more about the lighthouse’s history, you can book a guided tour that is available every Wednesday at 11 am, and 12 pm and every Saturday at 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm.

Facade of Point San Luis Lighthouse

Voyacantar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For a hassle-free trip, purchase a ticket through their website before going on the tour, as the property is located in Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, a restricted area to the general public.

Make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled tour to ensure that you can catch the van on time that will take you to the lighthouse.

Interior of Point San Luis Lighthouse

mikluha_maklai /

Take a Refreshing Stroll at Harford Pier

Harford Pier, also known as Pier 3, is 1,320-feet long and was built by John Harford.

You can go for a relaxing walk along the pier as you enjoy the cool breeze coming from the nearby beach.

If you are lucky, you might even witness sea otters and sea lions playing on the beach.

As this is a working pier, you will see fishermen at the end of the pier who are hard at work and vendors who are selling the freshest seafood.

Have Fun at Olde Port Beach

Pier at Olde Port Beach

HannaTor /

What’s the best way to explore a beach town?

By visiting its beaches, of course.

So, go ahead and pack a blanket, a good book, a refreshing beverage, and some snacks, then head straight to the shores of Olde Port Beach.

Lie down on its warm sand while you enjoy the sweeping views of the clear blue sea and the cool breeze for a relaxing afternoon.

A trip to the beach will not be complete without taking a dip in the water.

Do not worry as this beach is not as crowded as the other beaches, so there are plenty of spaces to swim around comfortably.

If you are traveling with kids, there are bonfire pits that you can use from the first Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, which is perfect for roasting s’mores and providing additional warmth on cold nights.

Best of all, the beach is pet-friendly, too.

You can let your pets roll over the sand, run around the shore, and have fun with the other pets on the beach.

If you are traveling to the town soon, do not forget to take the whole gang with you and make your vacation a memorable one by visiting Olde Port Beach.

Get Up-Close With Whales at Avila Beach

View of Whales at Avila Beach

“Mike” Michael L. Baird, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whale watching is another great activity that you can do with the whole family.

Avila Beach Whale Watching is a family-run business that started in 2012.

They offer one-hour coastal tours and two-hour whale watching tours.

Humpback whale at Avila beach

“Mike” Michael L. Baird, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The rates for the two-hour whale watching tour are $99 on weekdays and $109 on weekends.

The maximum number of guests allowed in the boat is six to ensure that you have an unobstructed view of the whales during the tour.

If you want to see the Humpback Whales, schedule a tour from late April to early November.

Relax Your Mind and Body at Avila Beach Hot Springs

The Budan family founded Avila Beach Hot Springs in 1907 when the oil drillers they hired discovered hot springs in Avila Beach instead of oil.

Avila Beach Hot Springs features a 5,000-square foot heated swimming pool with water slides, a hot spring mineral pool, a restaurant, and an arcade, perfect for travelers of all ages.

If you want to destress your mind and rejuvenate your body, take a dip at the hot spring mineral pool, which is two-feet deep.

The heated pool with water slides is great for when you want to have a fun time.

Do not worry about bringing your kids here with you, as there is a lifeguard present on the property as well.

After a fun-filled day with your loved ones, you can eat some delicious snacks at the on-site restaurant before heading home.

Go on a Family Trip at Avila Valley Barn

Signage of Avila Valley Barn

Michael Vi /

If you want to buy locally sourced products, then you should go to Avila Valley Barn.

They offer fruits, vegetables, and baked products that are made with the freshest ingredients.

Your kids can feed the animals, ride a pony, and go on a hayride from May to November.

In September, you can go to the barn and visit the pumpkin patch.

If you want to go to a hay maze, make sure to go back to the barn in October.

You can even pick your Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend.

Make sure to take note of these events so you and your loved ones don’t miss out on any of them.

Avila Valley Barn is not just for foodies or for kids; it is also for everyone who is looking for fun things to do.

Have a Glass of Wine at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards

Are you traveling with your family and looking for a kid-friendly winery?

Well, you’re in luck because Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards welcomes travelers of every age.

The owners, Dick and Dolores Kelsey, started this vineyard as their retirement project.

Years later, the winery became a thriving business that is popular among locals and tourists.

Offering a cozy and warm ambiance, this vineyard is a great site to visit when you want to take a breather.

The winery serves red and white wines, apple wine blends, hard cider, and sparkling wine, so you are sure to find something that will suit your taste.

With any four wine tastings only priced at $20, you might just find it difficult to leave this place.

If you plan to visit this vineyard, it is best to go early as guests are seated on a first-come walk-in basis only.

Learn More About Marine Life at Central Coast Aquarium

A Shark at Central Coast Aquarium

Coughdrop12, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Central Coast Aquarium is a great tourist attraction for the young ones and those young at heart.

They offer a series of events and programs dedicated to educating its visitors about marine life.

Programs like “Science After Dark” is an evening program that features experts who tackle issues about natural science and local history.

Building sign of Central Coast Aquarium

Coughdrop12, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Mommies & Guppies” is a monthly event for kids who are five years old and below and their guardians who want to experience up-close animal encounters with different creatures.

In these programs, the kids can also participate in different activities, like singing, playing games, and making crafts, so they learn and have fun at the same time.

If you are planning a trip to Avila Beach soon, check out their website to see the programs coming up.

Get Close to Nature at Pecho Coast Trail

If you are into hiking and want to stay active during your vacation, visiting Pecho Coast Trail is a good idea.

Since 1993, the Pecho Coast Trail has been open for guided hikes, making it a popular destination for travelers from all over the world who are visiting Avila Beach.

Before you start the hike, there are two types of guided hikes that you can choose from.

There is a 3.75-mile round trip hike that will end in Point San Luis Lighthouse and an 8-mile round trip hike to Rattlesnake Canyon.

During the hike, not only will you be treated with beautiful views of green trees but also an unobstructed view of Avila Beach.

If you are looking for an outdoor adventure that will provide you with amazing scenery, then you should schedule a trip to Pecho Coast Trail.

Discover the Once Hidden Pirate’s Cove Beach

Scenic view of Pirate’s Cove Beach

joojoob27 /

Another interesting site that should be included on your itinerary is Pirates Cove, also known as Cave Landing or Mallagh Landing.

Before, this secret beach was used to smuggle large amounts of liquor into Port San Luis Harbor.

Now, it is famous for beachgoers who prefer to go to the beach where clothing is optional.

While you are here, you can also visit Pirate’s Cave and Shell Beach Bluff Trail, which are both nearby.

The waters of Pirate’s Cove Beach

randy andy /

Learn How to Surf at Van Curaza Surf School

If you are looking for an activity that will surely make your whole family excited, then this is what you are looking for.

Van Curaza Surf School offers lessons to adults and children who want to learn how to surf.

They offer private lessons, group lessons, and summer surf camps, where they discuss how you can better understand the movement of the ocean, surfing techniques, and of course, safety.

If you want to take group lessons with the whole family, you can call or email them to secure a schedule for your group.

Gaze at the Art Pieces at Avila Gallery

If you are an art fan, a trip to Avila Beach should include a stop at the Avila Gallery.

In 2015, a group of dedicated individuals opened Avila Gallery as a place to do business, exhibit artwork, and educate the public.

When you request a personalized piece of jewelry, the gallery will schedule various workshops, including those on jewelry manufacturing.

As a meeting place for admirers of Tahitian pearls, Tahitian gold jewelry, Tahitian silver jewelry, Tahitian enamel jewelry, and ceramic pottery, Avila Gallery fosters an environment conducive to exchanging ideas.

The Avila Gallery features stunning paintings, pottery, jewelry, ceramics, and other unique art pieces.

It also offers lessons in lost wax casting, painting, and enameling.

Grab Sweet Treats and Souvenirs at Reimer’s Candies and Gifts

Are your taste buds ready to experience some amazing new foods?

Travel to Avila Beach to stop by Reimer’s Candies and Gifts.

It’s been in operation for almost fifty years, and its owners have earned the public’s trust.

A candy maker from Visalia started selling chocolate out of the small red gingerbread home in Three Rivers.

Since then, the business has flourished and attracted people from all over the world.

More than eighty types of premium chocolates prepared with exotic ingredients and fresh cream are available at Reimer’s Candies & Gifts.

They provide several candy options, including chews, sour candies, licorice, and more.

They showcase over a dozen ice cream varieties, like peaches, almonds, cherries, and so on, that only add to the dessert’s appeal.

Tone Up at Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa

Many visitors and residents of Avila Beach miss out on one of the most incredible things to do in the area because they are unaware of the significance of Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa.

Among its many appealing features is an Olympic-size swimming pool, one of many fascinating amenities at Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa.

Two spa baths, two gyms with various exercise machines, and weight lifting are all available at the clubhouse.

There are several tennis courts, a vast library, a relaxing lounge room complete with a fireplace, a few tables (including a pool table), and a TV at Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa.

The club has lovely music and hosts various special events, delicious food and beverages, and helpful and kind staff.

Cap off Your Night at Libertine Brewing Company

Libertine Brewing Company should be on your list of things to do in Avila Beach with friends.

You may drink indoors and outdoors, depending on your mood.

Libertine Brewing Company offers 14 draft lines pouring their beer in the tasting room.

In addition to kegs, they also offer bottled varieties of their high-quality beers.

The Libertine Brewing Company is a terrific place to relax and socialize because of the pleasant atmosphere and the helpful, kind employees.

Peruse the Stalls at Avila Beach Farmers’ Market

Avila Beach Farmers’ Market offers top-quality produce, grains, jellies, honey, meat, seafood, pickles, jam, and more.

In addition to food, crafts, and hayrides, the market also has a small petting zoo where visitors may pet and feed goats and other animals.

The farmers market at Avila Beach is made more enjoyable by the presence of numerous local musicians and other performers who play live throughout the day.

You may eat at nearby eateries to experience authentic regional cuisine and sweets.

From April through September, locals and tourists may peruse the Avila Beach Farmers’ Market offerings.

Don’t miss out on the fresh seafood, locally grown veggies, and tasty cuisine available at the market while you soak in the sights and sounds of the ocean.

Final Thoughts

With lots of sandy beaches, interesting sites, and vineyards all over the town, visitors coming from different parts of the world will have a fantastic time here.

Whether you are looking for a quiet retreat amidst nature or a fun weekend getaway filled with outdoor adventure, Avila Beach has something to offer that certainly has what you are looking for.

For an unforgettable trip with your loved ones, make sure to check out Avila Beach.

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