Avila Beach is a small, quaint town that is actually part of the city of San Luis Obispo, but it feels like its own special beach mecca--and seems a world apart. While the inland city gets hot in the summer, people head to Avila to cool off.
One of the few spots in California with three piers in a single bay, two of the piers are open to the public. Harford Wharf features a popular fish restaurant and offers spectacular, up-close views of seals and sea lions lounging on moored boats below the wharf.
The Avila Pier is more of a pleasure pier just for strolls. You can fish on it as well, and enjoy being out above the water.
Avila Beach itself has overcome obstacles to shine even better than before. The ground once was contaminated with toxic chemicals, and the cleanup effort required several years. Everything is brand new in a certain area of town, including a new beachfront hotel.
The other distinction that you don't see is over the hill from the town. Diablo Nuclear Generating Station is off limits to the public. You don't see it and would not know about if not for a small sign or two near Harford Wharf.
When you want to have some old-fashioned fun, Avila Beach is an ideal destination with hardly any night life, but plenty of sunshine, cool ocean breezes, and good times for young families or retired seniors.
What to see: Play golf, wander the two piers; visit the Avila Barn selling produce and tasty foods (has a play area for kids); and spend time at the beach.