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Top 12 Things to Do in Avila Beach, California

Experience the best of Avila Beach with this weekend itinerary

The Vacationeer
Stunning image of Avila Beach cliffs and bright blue Pacific ocean waters, California.

When you envision the ultimate weekend in California, you’ll find that the picturesque Avila Beach matches it near perfectly. Just off of Highway 1 yet secluded from the rest of the Central Coast, Avila Beach is a laid-back community filled with tranquil hiking trails, indulgent spas and wine that flows with no end.

Here are 12 things you can do in Avila Beach to make your weekend getaway unforgettable.

Beautiful point of view shot down Avila Beach pier, California.   


Step off of the plane and into vacation mode on sunny Avila Beach. The sparkling waves, cool breeze and laid-back vibes might just convince you to spend the rest of the day in a swimsuit.

Make a beeline to the beach.

Don’t wait a moment to soak up the California sun; head down to Avila Beach and dip your toes in the sand. Walk out onto the Avila Beach Pier, or people watch from Avila Beach Park. The wide stretch of sand has plenty of room for you to roll out a beach towel, unfold your beach chair, and catch a little shade under the beach umbrella. If your flip flops don’t find their way into your luggage, you can find all of the swimwear you need just one block from the shoreline at The Sea Barn or Footseas.

Get your bearings on a bike.

As tempting as it is to spend your entire vacation soaking up the sun, there’s much more to the community of Avila Beach beyond the beach itself. One of the fun things to do in Avila Beach year-round is to ride the Bob Jones Trail. Also known as the City to the Sea Trail, this multi-use pathway will introduce you to other popular areas of Avila Beach. Rent a bike and hop on the trail right at the pier to visit favorite attractions like the Secret Garden and Avila Hot Springs.

Savor the evening with wine tasting.

Picturesque aerial of Southern California vineyards at sunset.    

After a wonderful day of exploring Avila Beach, we suggest winding down with a carafe of California wine. You won’t have to venture far from the beach if you want blue waters accompanying your red or white. Sinor-LaVallee boasts a wine list grown within 1.2-miles of the Pacific, while Peloton Cellars uncorks wines crafted from the Paso Robles region. Several wineries like Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards are within a ten-minute drive, as well.

Backup plan: Plan a few hours at the Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa. A deep tissue massage, hydrating facial and rejuvenating body scrub will help you unwind after you unpack.


Now that you’ve gotten the lay of the land, you should take advantage of the many outdoor things to do in Avila Beach. Consider planning an entire day outdoors so you can discover why this secluded beach town is one of California’s best-kept secrets.

Get out and explore on foot.

Wine Coast Country is best savored on foot, and there are multiple hiking trails throughout the region worth lacing up your boots for. Along with the Bob Jones Trail, you can access hiking trails without venturing far from your hotel. The Ontario Ridge Trail is rugged, winding along the coast to grant intrepid hikers fantastic beach views. The Pecho Coast Trail isn’t as steep and offers the opportunity to spot gray whales swimming offshore.

Tour Point San Luis Lighthouse.

Should you choose the Pecho Coast Trail, it will lead you right to one of the most popular attractions in Avila Beach: the Point San Luis Lighthouse. Built in 1890, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1974 and restored as part of the Harbor District. Weekly tours are available, including a tour that combines the lighthouse visit with a hike on the Pecho Coast Trail.

Idyllic beachside retail shops, palm trees in the distance, Front Street, Avila Beach, California.   

Take in the sunset and local seafood.

A weekend in Avila Beach isn’t complete without a night spent watching the sunset as you dine along the shore. Front Street restaurants will lure you with the aroma of fresh seafood. Seafood shacks like Ocean Grill serve up salty grub and offer pet-friendly patios, while Custom House is the long-time favorite that brings locals and visitors together to share exotic drinks and sunset views.

For special occasions, Blue Moon Over Avila will deliver equally exceptional sunset views, though their menu trades the American fare for classic French dishes.

Backup plan: The Central Coast Aquarium is worth a visit. Tucked into Avila Beach Park, this aquarium focuses on local marine life and features touch tanks for a truly hands-on experience.


With only one day left to soak up Avila Beach, try taking it slow and spend as many moments as possible enjoying the community’s gorgeous landscape and comfortable micro-climate.

Play a round at Avila Beach Golf Resort.

Blue skies and fast greens await you at Avila Beach Golf Course, a 6,500-yard, par-72 championship course. Book a tee time and take on this scenic course, relishing the challenge of multi-level greens and oak-lined valleys. The varied terrain mirrors the landscape, but don’t let the surrounding hills and water distract you too much. You’ll need your wit and skill to navigate this course under par.

Spend some time on the water.

Man and young boy walking on the water's edge with surf boards, Southern California.    

You’ve been staring out at the water all day – now it’s time to dive in. If you’re keen to do more than swim, Avila Beach will soak your schedule with fun. Hang ten with the instructors at the Van Curaza Surf School, and learn how to carve waves like a Californian. There’s seldom a better place to be during whale watching season than topside. You can also arrange sport fishing charters or rent a standup paddleboard to strike a pose with Stand up Paddleboard yoga.

Get one last glimpse at the coast from Smuggler’s Cave.

Before you head to the airport, wave goodbye to this stunning shore from a favorite local spot: Smuggler’s Cave. Just a few minutes east of town, this secluded lookout is on a bluff, giving you an amazing view of the water. Parking is available, and if you have a few extra minutes of free time, consider walking the Shell Beach Bluff Trail which winds down to Pirate’s Cove Beach.  

Backup plan: Shop and snack your way around Avila Beach. This walkable community is lined with locally-owned shops and eateries, giving you an idea of what there is to do in Avila Beach on a cloudy day.

Read "The Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Packing List" to make sure you’re ready for an unforgettable Avila Beach vacation.



The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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