I lived in San Luis Obispo County for the first 20 years of my life, so this place feels more like home than Sacramento does. It’s comforting to re-visit the places of my childhood. I may be biased, but the whole county is incredibly gorgeous.
Pismo Beach has always been a great spot to hang out for the day. They have some of the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had at Old West Cinnamon Rolls and I walk along the beach after indulging in one smothered in cream cheese frosting. I never really noticed how cute some of these little houses are near the beach. I imagine myself living in a one bedroom cottage. I'd decorate with seashells and finally make the switch from acrylic to oil paints. I'd get a part-time "real job" and surf on my days off. Sure. It’s just so nice here. It’s already warm enough to lay out at the beach and it's never too cold. Around every corner there are roadside produce stands and some stay open year-round. Who wouldn't want to live here?
I was raised in the coastal town of Los Osos, and there are two reasons why I return there as often as I can: the beach at Montana de Oro and Sylvester’s hamburgers. These burgers are unbelievable. They’d be fantastic without the sauce, but to order a burger without the special sauce is sac-burger-religious. In the picture you can see the sauce oozing over the bottom bun. That’s the way it should be. Their slogan is “big, hot and juicy” and that surfing burger has been painted on the wall since I was 3.
Montana De Oro is a place with a lot of memories for me. The campground there is so quiet and secluded that you can hear the waves at night even though you can't see the ocean from the campground. Other more expensive State Parks are right on the beach, but because of their proximity to highway 1 and the small size of the campsites pushing you within feet of your fellow campers, you can’t hear the ocean. It's the sound of the ocean that keeps me coming back to this campground whenever I can.
The bluff walk is only a couple miles long, but it’ll take you awhile to walk it because you’ll have to stop at every bend to take in the stunning beach cliff scenery below. The trail takes you past rocky cliffs and down to jutting strata of rock out to sea. There are some great tide pools here and I’m glad to see they’re still teeming with life.
The next day I'm further inland and I camp for the night at Cerro Alto. There is a trail here that takes you up 2.5 miles to an epic view of the ocean and mountains below. At sunset, it’s difficult to see the ocean with the cloud cover, but that adds to the drama. It’s very Tolkien up here. I’ve been told I climbed this when I was little - but I don’t remember. You'd think I'd remember something like this.