From January through mid-November, small group sizes make these whale watching tours one of the biggest attractions in Avila Beach. With grey whales in April and humpbacks in September, the marine life you’re likely to see changes from season to season. But with this company’s whale or dolphin siting guarantee, you’re all but guaranteed to have a great time—no matter what time of year you visit.
There are tons of great hiking and biking trails around Avila Beach. But none are quite as intellectually engaging as the docent-led Pecho Coast Trail Hikes. Located on private property, you must be accompanied by a docent to enjoy the trail—and enjoy it, you will. With an ecological overview of the area, a history of the native Northern Chumash people and even an optional tour of the Port San Luis Lighthouse, you’ll learn something new at every turn.
When you’re in Avila Beach, out on the water of the San Luis Obispo Bay is one of the best places to spend your day. Whether you’re looking for a stand-up paddleboard, a single kayak or a tandem, this local rental company will help you get everything you need. Reservations are recommended, as is planning your paddle-powered adventure for 9a.m.–12p.m. in order to avoid the rough waters that are common here in the afternoon.
Nestled into the hills on the edge of the bay, this par-72 championship course offers sweeping views and a seriously satisfying challenge. Designed by Desmond Muirhead, the course is constructed with kikuyu grass fairways and quick, classic bent-grass greens. The front nine holes wind through hilly terrain, while the back nine traverse a tidal estuary with multi-level greens and several forced carries. If working on improving your game tends to improve your getaways too, this is one course you won’t want to miss.
Built in 1919 for publishing tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, this estate is an immersive look at extreme luxury in the early 20th century. With a range of guided tours, you can wander through the gargantuan halls of Casa Grande or marvel at the magnificent views from Casa del Mar or stare into the eyes of a bronze copy of Donatello’s David in Casa del Sol. While you’re studying the screening room or gazing out at the expertly pruned garden, you’ll find that the roaring 20’s still feel like they’re in full swing at Hearst Castle.
Every Friday evening (4–8p.m.) from April through September, the Avila Beach Promenade transforms into a full-sensory farmers’ market. With stalls selling everything from fresh-cut bouquets and locally grown tomatoes to wildflower honey and small batch skin care, it’s a great place to pick up picnic provisions and score a few souvenirs. And with live music and lots of food trucks, it’s a great way to spend a night on the town too.