Great Fun and
Food in Avila Beach
Story and photographs by Greg Aragon
f I close my eyes I can almost see the old wooden pier standing in the
sea and hear the rocks rolling in the waves outside my window. I can
almost feel the refreshing ocean breeze filter through my beach-front
room. And I can almost taste all the wonderful food I had during my
recent getaway to Avila Beach.
It all began recently when a friend and I rented a car
and drove about three hours north of Los Angeles to the charming little
beachside town, where we checked into Avila Lighthouse Suites and set
up camp for a couple nights.
Avila Lighthouse Suites is a bright and cheerful
boutique hotel resembling a classic Californian watercolor painting
Located across the street from the beach, Avila Lighthouse
Suites is a bright and cheerful boutique hotel that looks like a classic
Californian watercolor painting. The hotels exterior is highlighted
by an iconic wooden tower, sitting above an outdoor heated pool and
spa, a small putting green and life-size chess board in a spacious plaza.
Inside the 54-room boutique hotel, the rooms are modern
and comfortable. Our suite boasted a bedroom with two queen beds, a
large flat screen TV, and a fireplace; a living room with sofa bed,
chair, office desk and another fireplace; a full sized kitchen, with
large refrigerator and all the amenities.
The room also came with free wireless Internet and a
large private balcony overlooking the pool and the Avila Boardwalk and
beach. From the balcony we watched boats sail past the pier, people
relaxing in the sand, and all the action on the boardwalk. The lanai
was also a great place to unwind at night with a bottle of wine.
Once we settled into our room, we explored the area.
Our first stop was Creekside
Apple Farm, where we met farmer/owner Ed Evenson and Donna Peterson.
We began our visit by sampling a few of the farms latest apple
varietals and sipping some of their famous unpasteurized apple cider.
We then hopped in an off-road golf cart with Ed and his Jack Russell
dog named Penny and toured the 15-acre farm.
Owner Ed Evenson shows off his magical, 15-acre
Creekside Apple Farm
Along the way we cut through thick, lush orchards, tasting
varieties such as Gala, Jona-Gold, Winesap, Golden Delicious and Fujis,
Arkansas Black, Granny Smith, Gold Rush and Pink Ladies. All Creekside
apples are sustainably grown, tree ripened and never stored.
Ed says his apples are unique because of the micro-climate
the farm is situated in, two miles from the ocean, in a canyon with
steep hills and natural heat retention. Apple season runs through mid-December.
Besides apples, he also grows persimmons, pears, squash and grapes for
wine, which he also produces on the property.
Before saying goodbye to Ed, we drove to a secluded
hilltop, overlooking vineyards, where he showed us his romantic and
cozy two-bedroom cottage that he rents out to people in-the-know.
From Creekside, we drove a quarter mile to Gardens
of Avila Restaurant, where we met Chef Robert Trestor and enjoyed
an incredible dinner. Located in a garden setting at Sycamore Mineral
Springs Spa & Resort, the restaurant serves California Coastal wine-country
cuisine and showcases the bounty of local and organic farms, ranches
and culinary artisans in the Central
Coast area region.
Chef Robert Trestor grows herbs and spices for his
daily creations at Gardens of Avila Restaurant
Our dining experience began with a tour of the chefs
personal garden, where he grows herbs and spices for his daily creations.
We then sat down to a cup of unique hot tea with verbena and tomato,
followed by a bowl of roasted corn soup, with smoked jalapeno, bacon
and brioche croutons; and Morro Bay oysters, fresh tomato and garden
For the main course my friend had an incredibly tender
prime sirloin cap, with braised greens, crushed potatoes, bone marrow
crust and bordelaise. I devoured pan roasted sea scallops, brown butter
roasted squash, bacon, and apple glaze.
The Gardens of Avila Restaurant serves tasty California
Coastal wine-country cuisine
After dinner we headed back to Lighthouse Suites and
soaked in the Jacuzzi. In the morning I worked out at the fitness center
and then enjoyed the hotels free and bountiful continental breakfast.
We then drove a couple miles up the coast to the historic Port San Luis
Harford Pier was originally built in 1878
Also known as Harford Pier, the structure was originally
built in 1878 by John Harford and is one of the last piers around that
the public can still drive their cars on. While strolling down the 1,320-ft-long
dock, we watched sea lions relax on the wooden piles below and fisherman
and large pelicans look for fish from atop. We concluded our visit with
a great lunch of super-fresh ceviche and fish and chips at Pete's
Pierside Cafe & Fish Market.
Sea lions play beside historic Harford Pier
After lunch we took a bus to Port
of San Luis Lighthouse. Also known as the San
Luis Opisbo Light Station, this is the last Prairie Victorian
model lighthouse left on the West Coast and is on the National
Register of Historic Places.
From the old lighthouse we drove back to the modern
Lighthouse Suites, where I changed and practiced my game on an awesome
outdoor basketball court, located next to the hotel and across the street
from the ocean. My friend then joined me and we explored town.
There is nothing like basketball by the beach
Located on the Central Coast, equal distance between
Los Angeles and San
Francisco, Avila Beach is surrounded by gentle, sloping hills, three
piers and beautiful beaches. It also boasts tons of small-town charm
and a perfect microclimate, making it a great region for wine.
In fact, during our stay we discovered Alapay Cellars
(alapaycellars.com), a hip and fun wine tasting bar and wine shop, where
we had a tasting of local wine, while sitting in a quaint shop only
steps from the beach.
Avila Lighthouse Suites is a great place to stay
while visiting Avila Beach
For more information on Avila Lighthouse Suites, call
800-372-8452 or visit: www.avilalighthousesuites.com.
For general info on Avila Beach, visit: www.visitavilabeach.com.
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