Avila offers a quiet Escape Beach CA

About half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco - and about half way between a wild and frenetic beach shores, for example, Orange County - you will find an idyllic stretch of sand that will undoubtedly worth stop next time you're driving the 101. Located just around the corner of Pismo Beach Avila Beach is a small but popular beach ideal for a getaway with your partner to come.

Not that children would be unwelcome - Avila is a playground for all ages. But the new Avila Village Inn has brought this fate on one or two for those seeking a romantic beach getaway special. The inn has pulled everything possible to attract couples who want to pamper themselves as much as enjoy the natural beauty of the central coast of California.

About seven miles north of Pismo Beach on Highway 101 sign directs travelers to Avila Beach via a winding road that follows San Luis Creek down into a ravine woodland. About a mile before reaching the beach are Avila Village, a new development of condominiums, shops and next to the creek, the Avila Village Inn.

While not actually on the beach, wooded setting of the inn property gives a quiet, lonely. The developers of the hotel use the word fine to describe the details and amenities that have been built in the 30 rooms. And our impression was that, in fact, this is one of those hotels where you can enjoy the taste of the luxurious accommodation as well as experience the beach and other natural environments.

This property has incorporated many design features now seen in the new luxury homes. Mini bar, granite counters and fireplaces in each room, while marble is used extensively in the shower and bathroom area. The pillow-top king beds both look and feel comfortable with pillows, blankets and quilts. We especially enjoyed the private spa 103 degrees ahead of us in the balcony stream.

If you're so inclined, each room or suite has its own DVD player and guests are encouraged to watch DVDs for free at the reception. Those who are a bit more active will welcome the gym that is across the parking lot of the inn - perfect for work outside of sandwiches, cakes and snacks provided to its customers both a welcome basket and a basket of breakfast the next day.

Other details like tasteful art, mission-style furnishings and a grand staircase, sweeping the lobby area was added to a sense of privilege - which, of course, is what is important when spending money for enjoy quality time with your loved one.

A couple of minutes down the road from the inn is Avila Beach, a half-mile area of ??beach that is growing in popularity because of its more exclusive, almost Mediterranean feel. Some hotels are higher near the beach, close to some stores that are scattered by the small downtown area. There is evidence of new construction was necessary to hear from some oil leakage in the area, but the beach and businesses along the beach seems unaffected.

Avila Beach has three pillars, including two that are public. It's fun to walk to the end of the pier where we enjoyed watching the surfers and fishermen in the spring while enjoying spectacular views of the coast. There were only a few visitors enjoy the wide beach during our week visit January 1. Most people visiting seemed to be couples or college students from Cal Poly in nearby San Luis Obispo.

From what we see, Avila is perfect to get away from people - although one suspects that may change on weekends and during the summer months. But even with mild climate of 75 degrees, we felt like we had stumbled upon a small town, little known beach somewhere in the Mediterranean. It was abandoned so it was difficult for us to imagine that more than 28,000 people live in Avila Beach. All I can understand is that most have to live well outside the few blocks adjacent to the beach.

A larger, busier beach is just south of Avila in Pismo Beach. The views from Pismo Beach are spectacular and this horseshoe-shaped beach seems to stretch for miles and miles. Clearly this is not the kind of beach where all you do is sit back and enjoy the sun, rent ATVs and bicycles are popular, such as sea kayaking and surfing. You can ride horses or play golf here - this area is a favorite of retirees to ensure that the golf course to get good and used - while fishing from the Pismo pier is also popular.

A little further up the pier is the center of the city - much bigger than the commercial center of Avila Beach - where you can find a collection of shops and a variety of restaurants. Beyond this tourist area, Pismo Beach takes on the appearance of most any other city, although a high percentage of households that house and probably once used as a vacation getaway. Driving around Pismo we discovered several points of access to the beach, each with its own set of views. These are good places to see the power of nature, during our visit, the surf along Pismo was beating so hard it seemed as loud as a freight train.

You will also want to visit the nearby city of San Luis Obispo. We made a point of visiting the city center and found an excellent selection of shops and outdoor cafes, however, a sense of home in the city that made for a comfortable afternoon of sailing and exploring. San Luis Obispo is found Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, one of California's historic missions. You can visit the residence of the Fathers, which is now a museum.

San Luis Obispo is actually the center of this area - a diverse region, which has an incredible 100 wineries all within walking distance, and of course the beach communities. There are actually two different regions of wine in this area - the region of San Luis Obispo, where the cool climate and marine sediments are favorable for growing Chardonnay grapes, and in the north, the Paso Robles region, where hot summers and limestone help grow the best Zinfandels and Rhone varietals.

But again, many visitors to the central coast of California are content to keep a low profile, perhaps traveling to the beach and a good dinner before returning to a cozy fireplace and soft music. These visitors are certainly found in Avila Beach and the new Avila Beach Village Inn, especially rewarding.


WHERE Avila Beach is about 200 miles north of Los Angeles and north of Pismo Beach.

WHAT Avila Beach is an alternative to expansive beaches and has a quieter, more exclusive feel. Only a few hotels in the immediate area, although many more are in nearby Pismo Beach.