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Donna Polizzi

Here & There

Donna Polizzi: Bob Jones City-to-Sea Trail Is Your Locals Connection in San Luis Obispo County

There’s a world of sights, sounds, scenery and sanctuary on this easy 5-mile round-trip between San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach

 

Where is the best place to hike, bike or take a stroll in beautiful San Luis Obispo County? The well-known and well-traveled Bob Jones City-to-Sea Trail is most certainly a contender.

The 2½-mile paved trail between San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach is a winding, beautiful path that is mostly flat, making it perfect for an intermittently shaded, carefree walk with a stroller, or an ideal place to take a run or lace up your skates.

People of all ages use the trail to enjoy nature and breathe the fresh ocean air while getting some exercise.

The nearby Avila Beach Bird Sanctuary is a must-see experience along the trail. In 2013, Avila Beach became a designated bird sanctuary. Snowy egrets, great blue herons, red-necked grebes, geese, gulls and surf scooters are just a sampling of the birds that are often spotted.

Personal experience has given me insight that must be shared, however. Don’t get too close to the mama ducks or geese or you just might get goosed.

If you get hungry, there is a casual restaurant on the trail, Woodstone Marketplace at Avila Village, that offers good food, drinks, and deli and bakery items. The restaurant at 6675 Bay Laurel Place offers indoor and outdoor patio seating that overlooks the trail. It also has nice gifts and an excellent wine selection.

While meandering down the always scenic Bob Jones Trail, you’ll pass deep green landscape. Did you know there are 19 species of oak native to California? Ten of them grow as trees and nine as shrubs. Enormous coast live oak trees flank the trail. One in particular is estimated to be between 300 and 600 years old.

If you are into plants, you’ll discover some interesting varieties, like the African castor bean plant. The seeds from this plant are poisonous to people, animals and insects. Castor beans are pressed to extract castor oil, which is valuable for medicinal purposes.

A visit here is a colorful experience in more ways than one. Deep-blue San Luis Obispo Creek is a favorite place to paddle-board. Glistening streams and gardens run from the city to the sea. At Avila Beach Golf Resort, 6464 Ana Bay Drive, a long and visually inviting bridge crosses the water, which is full of fish, wildlife and beautiful birds.

I have personally seen dog walkers, with up to a dozen dogs at a time, sharing the wide trail with everything from golf carts to tricycles.

After your jog, walk, hike or bike ride, head to the beachfront shops to find gifts to take home, a new bikini, or check out one of the many wine tasting rooms. There are a couple of excellent coffee shops and a children’s playground.

You also can book a stay in one of the unique hotels that are available in Avila Beach, ranging from small, intimate boutique locations to oceanfront suites. The beach is beautiful, the restaurants are plentiful, and the people are friendly.

Take a hike!

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys 2 the Coast, a free Central Coast travel resource providing honest recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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