Trace Back : Pismo Beach

Looking for a quick getaway to kill some stress and revive your spirits? Well you won’t have to go far if you live in California. Within 200 miles of bay area, there are several weekend getaway destinations that can give you just the right amount of relaxation and also hurt your pocket just a slight bit. This long weekend Agam and I visited the Pismo Beach area. We did not plan anything except for the fact that we would drive down CA-1 and stop at Pismo Beach. And so we bid on Priceline a month in advance and got ourselves a great deal at the Hilton Garden Inn at Pismo Beach.

We started from Mountain View at around 10:00am on Saturday morning and headed down CA-1. Our first checkpoint was Big Sur River Inn. A cute and comfy inn that allows you to stretch your legs and sip some mimosas as you watch little kids enjoy their easy access to a nearby shallow river. You can actually sit in the middle of the river and enjoy nature’s orchestra at leisure. The water tends to be a little cold, so be prepared for that. We enjoyed a sumptuous lunch at the Inn and drove down CA-1 south. There are a lot of vista points you can park at and enjoy the scenery. We took a few of those and enjoyed the 75 degree weather that blessed the area on Saturday.

It was close to 3:00 pm and we decided to make a short term goal to find a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. But before that we needed another cup of coffee to rest our weary souls. And we found Sebastian’s store a little off Hwy 1. A cute little nook that served everything under the sun. We grabbed two coffees and walked to the nearby Hearst Memorial Beach. This beach was in the San Simeone area that seemed to be close to a lot of wineries and looked like a perfect little town on the central coast. You get the picture I guess … small, green, laid back, with a few churches in the vicinity and of course, right by the ocean. On this trip we basically ditched Hearst Castle and wrote it off our list as “too touristy to try”.

We then drove further to Morro Bay State Park to enjoy the sunset. We made it a few minutes before sunset and satisfied the child in us by climbing a few rocks and enjoying a cozy sunset by a quiet bay. I was surprised by how few people were in the park at that time. We got lucky 🙂

I love clicking sunsets. And sunsets are my “thing”. Just like coffee. And so I clicked to my heart’s delight. And finally I came to the conclusion that I click to capture my emotion, and not to capture a moment that I can share with others. And hence I click a lot. I click every dimension. It is my attempt to give shape and form to every feeling I experience as I am witnessing a phenomenon, a moment or a monument. And then I wondered whether people can see those feeling when they see my pictures. I secretly wished that they cannot. 

Moving on…The sun finally set, splashing vibrant colors across the sky and leaving us behind laughing and giggling at the circle of life. Tomorrow was going to be another day, another sunrise and another sunset. We resolved to catch the sunset on Sunday as well. For now we were tired and headed straight to our final destination – Hilton Garden Inn at Pismo Beach. A decent hotel in a decent neighborhood. Nope, it did not have ocean views, but you might catch a glimpse, if you stretched a little in the parking lot 🙂 We checked in and picked a Thai place in the neighborhood for a quick spicy dinner.
The food was OK. We retired for the night and started Sunday with a new and renewed spirit. We found out that there are some sand dunes nearby and ATV rides in the dunes is THE thing in Pismo Beach. And so we rushed to grab a quick bite at Lil’ Bits and drove to Oceano to rent our ATV. Angello’s had a decent inventory and we rented a two seater bike. After a small training session and a few videos we were ready to conquer the dunes. If you have been on a motorbike before, the experience is quite similar. But the thrill factor is that there are no rules, no lanes and a lot of dunes that you can ride and dash into. We started slow and then caught up. Agam was the primary driver, but I tried my hand on the beast for a little while. It is quite easy to get lost since all you see for miles and miles is SAND. 

We got back to the base and after a few attempts to clean the sand off us we drove to Monarch Butterfly Grove on CA1. It was a WOW experience to see SO many butterflies clustered around a few trees. There are so many of them that from afar they give a perception of fall leaves on the trees. We enjoyed the butterflies and then drove on to Avila beach to get some sun and some rest after the tiring ATV rides. After some sun soaking and ice cream binging we decided to head towards our next sunset destination: Montano de Oro State Park.

After a short drive through the countryside we were again by the bluffs and the ocean. This time we decided to take a short trail. The Bluff Trail is a short 2.1 mile hike to the most amazing vistas in this state park. The hike is pretty easy and offers grand views of the Pacific. Formations and vistas like I have never seen before, unfolded after every few steps. We found a nook that we picked for enjoying the sunset and after a few hops and leaps we were by the shore, waiting for the sun to dip. It was beautiful down there and we counted the seconds to the sun set. As soon as the sun dipped we took quick steps back to the trail to avoid the dark skies as we walked back to the car. A few rushed steps and we were down the hill, now planning a good dinner in downtown San Luis Obispo. 

Downtown SLO is a nothing short of Pearl Street in Boulder or B Street in San Mateo. Just a little more charming if I may add, with the creek running along it and several restaurants offering creekside dining. We picked Big Sky Cafe based on the Yelp reviews and it was very satisfying. We drove back to Pismo Beach and enjoyed a night in front of the TV. The next morning we packed our bags, grabbed a quick coffee at the hotel and drove back to Mountain View.

A short sweet and adventurous getaway – just what we needed, after a month of sickness and some rather hectic times at work.

On to more interesting things in life … like getting back to the rat race tomorrow.

1 thought on “Trace Back : Pismo Beach

  1. Wonderful – took me back a couple years when we did pieces of this trip. I cannot remember the small burger place in Pismo that we ate at – was delish as was the ice cream at Doc Bernstein's I think in downtown Pismo..good pizza across the street in a dive inside a basement


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