Family Travel: Cayucos

Three hours from the Bay Area, this sleepy beach town near Morro Bay calls to mind the classic beach vacation. 
“I think of Cayucos as the quintessential California beach town untouched by chain development,” says Rocelia Kmak, a Santa Clara mom who has been vacationing here for more than 16 years. “The beach is long, good for beach walks, and wide so it’s great for playing in the sand and surf.  It is close to movie theaters in San Luis Obispo, tide pools at Montana de Oro and shopping in Cambria.”
It also helps that rentals here generally can be found at rates lower than the surrounding larger towns, she adds.
In the morning, families can head to Cass’ Wharf and fish with the kids for free at the pier. Spend the day at Cayucos Beach, which features an old-fashioned swing set right on the sand. If you want a challenge, walk all the way to Morro Bay. Cayucos Beach has a lifeguard in the summer. 
Also within walking distance is Hardie Park, which features a public swimming pool, barbeque pits, tennis courts and playground. Close to a creek, it’s also a place for finding pollywogs in the water.
Hardly ever crowded, parking is plentiful. On Fridays until Sept. 6, the Veteran’s Hall parking lot features a weekly morning farmer’s market, so you can get your fill of organic apples, strawberries and avocados.
Popular haunts are the shopping streets of Ocean Avenue and Cayucos Drive, where you’ll find candy stores, ice cream stores, art galleries, great restaurants, antique stores, surf shops, grocery stores and local specialty shops. 
For inexpensive eats, visit Old Cayucos Bakery and Deli, where you can eat inside or order a fresh sandwich, chowder or any menu item to go. Kelley’s Espresso and Bakery is the place to absorb Cayucos culture, so hang out with the locals while enjoying fresh baked goods and coffee. Duckie’s Chowder House has great beach food near Cayucos pier: clam chowder, fish and chips, taco, and sandwiches. Sebastian’s Store, a general store turned popular lunch spot and wine-tasting bar, has been around since 1852. It is a local favorite where you can get giant sandwiches and burgers before going on your tour.
According to Gina Spencer, Cayucos Chamber of Commerce member, no visit is complete without a meal at Ruddell’s Smokehouse. The hole-in-the-wall spot was featured in an episode of Food Network’s BBQ with Bobby Flay. Schooners Wharf also has wonderful food in a fun, funky, kid-friendly restaurant.
Budget hotels include the Cypress Tree Motel, the Shoreline Inn, a pet-friendly motel on the beach with suites and connecting rooms, and the Cayucos Motel, which includes a continental breakfast.
For more about Cayucos, including a calendar of upcoming special events, go to
Gwen Hubner is a freelancer writer in Oakland.


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