A Quaint Retreat
Tucked amongst trees and below the Pacific Coast Highway, I found myself in the beach front town of Cayucos, CA this weekend. My long-time friend Gina and I opted to take a mini road trip up the coast of California, and wound up halfway to San Francisco from Los Angeles when we arrived in Cayucos. Gina currently lives in Santa Barbara and I drove up Friday night to visit her for the weekend. Since I’ve been to Santa Barbara several times already, we wanted to explore new territory. My mom had read about Cayucos, a charming beach town three hours north of LA, and told me to check it out. And this past weekend just so happened to be their annual Sea Glass Festival. Seemed like the perfect time to travel to Cayucos.Gina and I left Santa Barbara at about 10am on Saturday, and though we hit some highway construction that delayed us a bit, we arrived in Cayucos about 12:45pm. It was a beautiful drive, with alternating views of the ocean and then winding roads through mountains. It was a clear sunny day in the upper 60s. Fairly nice weather for coastal California north of Los Angeles.
When we took the exit for Cayucos off CA-1/Highway 101, Gina and I felt like we had been transported to the dense Ozark forests of our native Missouri. Cayucos sits below the highway and is secured behind thick trees. Once we traveled through the brief mini-forest we found ourselves looking out at the ocean and arriving in this vacation getaway. Like many of the cities in San Luis Obispo county, the Cayucos area has many wineries and their downtown catered to a number of wine tasting bistros.
Gina and I ate lunch at Sea Shanty, a recommendation from my mom. We both had the traditional fish and chips and finished off with homemade dessert. I had the peach cobbler and Gina had the Rocky Mountain pie. Everything was delicious, the restaurant was small but cute, and the staff was very friendly. The perfect culmination of what you’d expect to find from a small town.
After lunch, we walked through downtown Cayucos and took in the quaint scenery and architecture. Before heading into the festival, we walked down the pier, which extends 1,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean, where the climate changed to very windy and much colder. There is something so calming and refreshing about being out on the ocean. It’s hard to explain in words, but standing at the end of the pier was a beautiful moment.
Next, we entered the tents of the Sea Glass Festival. As expected, it was mostly jewelry and art stands. There were many beautiful pieces, and I bought a necklace for myself, and Gina bought a pair of earrings for her sister’s birthday. We learned that sea glass is actually just man-made glass that’s been dumped into the ocean; and after being tossed around in the ocean, the glass becomes smoothed before finding itself back on shore for people to rediscover. I, myself, found a piece of sea glass when Gina and I walked on the beach after visiting the festival.
The beach of Cayucos was the typical, beautiful and rocky, beaches of California, north of Santa Monica. A California native told me that Malibu is the starting point for where the weather and beach landscape drastically changes in California. The beaches south of Malibu are very wide, flat and sandy. They can go on for miles and miles, connecting one beach to the next seamlessly. And the weather tends to be warmer and sunnier. Once you hit Malibu and go north, the beaches become much rockier, often with huge cliffs backdropping the beaches, and making the sandy beaches rather shallow, or even non-existent, compared to the wide sandy beaches of southern California.
Walking the Cayucos beach you could see the huge Morro rock in the distance, and even though we were only a few hours north of Southern California, it felt more like we had traveled up to the Pacific Northwest. Cayucos means “kayak” or “canoe” in Chumash, and was founded in 1867 by Captain James Cass who began developing the area with his business partner, Captain Ingals. The original pier Cass built still exists and is the one I walked on this weekend. Cass’s home is another original structure still standing along with several late 1800 and early 1900 buildings downtown. These remaining pieces of orignal Cayucos is just part of the charm to this “last of the California beach towns. ”
Cayucos is a charming beach front town and I highly recommend taking a day trip or weekend trip up to the city. Cayucos offers several bed and breakfasts and inns if you would like spend a few days indulging in the many wine tasting tours the city and surrounding area offers. Plus, the striking Hearst Castle is only 45 minutes north of Cayucos and is another site to see in California. Unfortunately we did not have time to make that excursion. So hopefully a trip to Hearst Castle will be a near-future post.