San Simeon borders San Luis Obispo's north coast. With a population of right around 500, San Simeon is best known for the William Randolph Hearst Castle, Elephant Seals, and as the southern gateway to Big Sur.
Cambria is a mix of woodlands and beaches and a major tourist destination. Known as "Pines by the Sea," this picturesque hamlet with just over 6,000 residents is divided into East and West Villages, featuring historic architecture, gourmet restaurants, unique shops and galleries. Don't miss the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach.
Harmony is an unincorporated community which boasts a population of 18 residents - the smallest in San Luis Obispo County. A fun stop for locals or visitors is the art studios, a bite to eat or a glass of wine at Harmony cellars - I recommend their Chardonnay.
Cayucos offers a charming small town atmosphere with outstanding (dog-friendly) walking beaches, great fish tacos, antique malls, and the Brown Butter Cookie Company, a must-do-cookie-tasting experience. Budget travel magazine recently added Cayucos to their "America's Coolest Small Town's" list. Community events in this beach city include Fourth of July parade and celebration; woodcarvers show, beach glass artists show, antique street faire, car shows, and the popular Carlin Soule Memorial Polar Bear Dip, on New Years day.
Morro Bay, population 10,370, is a working harbor with fishing and whale watching tours departing daily. The Embarcadero is buzzing with shops, galleries, seafood markets, and a number of fine dining options. Morro Rock, the last of the visible Seven-Sisters rises out of the water and can be seen from all parts of town. Community events in this beach city include the Avocado and Tequila Festival, Harbor Festival, Lighted Holiday Boat Parade, Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival and Crusin' Morro Bay car show.
Known as "Valley of the Bear", Los Osos borders the south side of Morro Bay. With a population less than 15,000, Los Osos and Baywood Park are tranquil waterfront communities. Destinations include Montana de Oro State Park for hiking and horseback riding; Spooner's Cove, and the Elfin Forest natural preserve - accessible by a boardwalk trail.
Avila Beach, population 1,627, is a small eclectic beach town and home to San Luis Pier - a working fishing port. Avila Beach is also host to a yacht club, an historic lighthouse built in 1890, and a Marine Life Center. Friday night farmer's market fills the air with live music, food choices and ambiance. Avila Beach was rebuilt after a massive underground oil pipe leak required a 2-year demolition in 1998 and has since become a major tourist destination. The weather in Avila is unique as the southern orientation creates a sheltered valley from wind and fog, leaving Avila sunny and warmer than many other coastal towns.
Pismo Beach is a destination for San Luis Obispo surfers and beach enthusiasts alike with seven miles of sandy coastline and alluring Pismo Pier. Locals and tourists enjoy the unique personality and relaxed atmosphere of this classic beach town, which is the go-to spot for Fourth of July Fireworks. The Monarch Butterfly Grove is located in the southern end of Pismo Beach off Highway 1. Located in the north end of Pismo Beach is Shell Beach, a popular residential community and home to Dinosaur Caves Park. The population of Pismo Beach is just over 8,000, but swells with weekend visitors.
Arroyo Grande, with a population 17,543, is the largest of our south coast cities. Referred to as "A.G." by the locals, it is a popular destination for shoppers to the historic Village at Arroyo Grande, with an entertaining variety of restaurants, galleries, and shops. Arroyo Grande is also home to Clark Center, South County's performing arts venue. East Arroyo Grande leads to the rolling hills and vineyards of Edna Valley and Mustang Water Park near Lake Lopez. This scenic route is also used as an alternative to driving highway 1 or 101 to San Luis Obispo.
Grover Beach, population 13,156, is bordered by Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, and Oceano and along with Shell Beach, this coastal cluster of cities is referred to as 5-Cities. Grover Beach Community events include the Dune Fun-Run and Stone Soup Music Festival in August, along with Santa's Workshop Art and Craft Fair and the Grover Beach Christmas tree lighting in December.
Oceano, population 7,286, boasts 300 days of sunshine per year and is the gateway to the only drivable beach in California. The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area offers 1,500 acres of sand dunes which are enjoyed by ATV enthusiasts and campers alike. The Oceano Train Depot, built in 1904 was moved in 1978, and is enjoyed by history buffs and for hosting community events.
Nipomo, population 16,714, makes up the southern edge of San Luis Obispo County and offers agriculture as their dominant business with dozens of greenhouses and acres of flowers, citrus, avocados, vegetables, and now year 'round strawberry crops. Nipomo community events include weekend swap meets and flea market, and the annual Best Oktoberfest.
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