Prior to “Lockdown 2.0” in December, my fall trips included a wellness-focused wellness getaway along the coast. I was on a mission to explore the southernmost part of California’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway that winds through the charming little seaside towns of San Luis Obispo County. My solo adventure was designed as a mini personal retreat to soothe my pandemic-stricken nervous system, and now that pleasure travel is allowed again (within 120 miles of home) I’m ready for anything. restart.
On my way to Avila beach, I stopped for a tour of Luffa farm in Nipomo. As my guide explained, a lot of people think that loofahs are sponges that come from the sea, when in fact they are dried squash and cousins of cucumbers. On the farm, multitasking vegetables grow on vines in greenhouses. I hit the road armed with some surprisingly sweet memories of loofah that were nothing like the harsh, overworked versions I remembered from my youth.
My next destination was Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort, where each room has its own private outdoor tub. After settling into my incredibly spacious suite and enjoying the tree-lined view from my back patio, I checked in for my spa massage. When you book a spa treatment, a free private soak in their popular hillside hot tubs is included. I took full advantage of this benefit and spent 30 minutes enjoying the peace and quiet while immersed in the healing waters from their 100 acre natural spring.
I was fine in the zen zone when I was called in for my 60 minute Swedish massage, which took place in one of the three outdoor cabanas they set up next to the pool for safe treatments for COVID. It was my first massage in six months and keeping my mask in place didn’t prevent the melt factor that followed. After a relaxing session in my suite, I made our way to Harford Pier in Avila, where I feasted on oysters and fish tacos at Mersea while admiring the sunset populated by sea lions, sea lions, sea lions and sea lions. birds and fishing boats.
I woke up before sunrise to hike the Sycamore Crest Trail accessible from the resort grounds. The 1.75 mile round trip excursion was easy to navigate in the light of the dawn as I hiked the switchbacks past just one other hiker and a few deer. The sun was barely starting to show when I reached the top, where an elevated panoramic view from Port San Luis to Pismo Beach greeted me.
Breakfast back at The Gardens restaurant at the resort was a hearty Benedict Crab Cake that fueled me for my next adventure – biking the Bob Jones Trail to the beach. The resort offers bikes for hire and the trail has a convenient entry point right on the property. I had a smile plastered on my face throughout the scenic three mile cruise to Avila Pier and back.
I said goodbye to Sycamore Springs and headed north to PCH for the Hearst Ranch Winery Tasting Room on San Simeon Bay. The setting alone was soothing to the soul – so much so that I lingered for a good two hours absorbing the low-key vibe, reading my book, munching on a homemade cheese plate that I organized with their market supplies and, of course, to taste the wines.
From there I drove south to Oceanpoint Ranch, located right next to PCH in Cambria. Cabin-like rooms with vaulted wood-beam ceilings and brick fireplaces are spread across the nine-acre property adjacent to Moonstone Beach. The modern country-western vibe of this recently updated property was totally down my back lane. After a delightfully messy, convenient cioppino dinner at the nearby Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, I returned to my room, where I read by the fireside and listened to the waves crashing.
I started my last morning with a sunrise stroll along the Moonstone Beach promenade and, as if by magic, the breakfast I had ordered the day before was waiting for me in my room. The grand finale of my personal “SLO-down” retreat was a forest bathing ritual with Tula Yoga in the vast haven of the Fiscalini Ranch Reserve. The private guided experience combined hiking, yoga, mindfulness and meditation led by the delightfully welcoming Terri Harrington, who shared local insights as well as helpful grounding instructions. For 90 minutes, we walked and talked, stopping at different locations for breathing exercises, yoga flow, balance poses and a final meditation under a majestic oak grove.
My trip was organized and supported by the Highway 1 Discovery Route.
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