California DreamingAdventure Travel, Bike, Food & Wine, Lost Girls, United States — By Holly C on August 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm
I am in love. You know the feeling, that I’m-so-excited-to-be-alive/ butterflies-in-my-stomach/ nothing-can-get-me-down sensation. However, this high is not for a person, but a place. California’s Central Coast is better than being a single woman landing in Rome if you enjoy breath-taking scenery; outdoors activities such as surfing, biking, and hiking; and laid-back vibes. I came here to cure a case of writer’s block and to visit my sister, who is a nurse in the college town known as San Luis Obispo and who lives in nearby Shell Beach. SLO, as it’s called both for the obvious moniker and for the in-no-hurry mentality of the locals, is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. There’s so much stuff to do here that I was able to sample only a few of the highlights. Here’s a virtual tour of a few of my favorite things:
Beach bars. Mr. Rick’s bar in Avila Beach has ocean views, pool tables, and karaoke. They even have a movie screen so you can watch music videos as you dance-or mimic them. Can you guess what my sister and our new friends are reenacting here? Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” of course!
Organic eats. The biggest social event around is the farmer’s market that happens everything Thursday on Higuera Street in downtown SLO. The entire street closes to traffic for a block party filled with fresh produce, barbecue, and live music.
Exploring coastal towns. Once an old whaling station, Cambria is a picturesque little city about an hour north of SLO and is an inspiring place to chill out and write-or shop. It’s filled with sidewalk cafes, art galleries, antiques, and historic buildings such as the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.
Getting there on two wheels. My new way to get around town is on a bike. Luckily, Kate had an extra set of wheels for me, so we pedaled the 50-mile round-trip route to the fishing town known as Morro Bay. You can rent kayaks and dive here, but we only had enough energy to refuel with halibut fish tacos and a glass of chardonnay at Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley.
Roadtripping. When my sister had to fly back to New York for a wedding, I stayed behind in her apartment to write by myself and watch her dog, Lulu. With the famous natural wonder, Big Sur less than a three-hour drive, I decided that Lulu and I could use a change of scenery. I had a hike planned for us on Ewoldsen Trail but the area was shut down due to the forest fires. Still, every (hairpin) curve along the way on Highway 101 revealed awe-inspiring views.
Wining and Dining. If you make it to the Central Coast, you have to eat at the Olde Port Inn. Seriously, I insist. Located at the end of the pier at Port San Luis, it was started by a fisherman who felt happiest sitting in that spot over the ocean and wanted other people to be able to experience it, too. When my sister and I arrived, we heard a sound strangely similar to barking dogs (about as harmonious as me attempting karaoke. Ha!). We quickly ran to the edge to discover these elephant seals who made their home on the wooden slabs. After that detour, we were seated inside the cozy eatery to watch the sunset over the harbor. Fresh seafood dishes such as classic clam chowder, crab quesadillas, and the Fisherman’s Plate (a combo of grilled fish, shrimp, scallops, and calamari) make it worth the trip-with or without the added bonus of seal sightings.
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