California Coast: San Simeon to Pismo Beach

By the time the Hearst Castle shuttle got back to the Visitor’s Center parking lot, it was a little after 3pm. Wanting to catch the sunset at Pismo Beach, our stop for the night, we decided to bypass the famed Elephant seals of San Simeon and head south on Highway 1.

It was a beautiful afternoon, though we were beginning to notice a significant difference between taking a road trip in February, versus the summer months. Yes, the Central Coast highways were much more manageable and enjoyable than they otherwise would have been, and the weather was excellent, probably better than most summers. Yet racing the setting sun proved to be a challenge throughout the ten days, one we hadn’t really considered before. The difference in daylight hours between February and July at these latitudes is about four hours, which is significant when you’re on a road trip and you want to see stuff and do stuff that requires daylight. Barhopping loses its charm to a great extent when your drinking buddy is with child and can’t join in. So, we had some earlier than usual nights and early wake-ups, which certainly wasn’t all bad.

Lori had come down with a bit of a cold the day before our trip. While a bit of bad timing (but mostly just a cough and runny nose, thankfully), the long nights helped to force us to take it easy and gave Lori lots of time to sleep, which ended up being a very good thing, particularly in her current state.

Morro Bay. We drove down to the waterfront, realized there wasn’t much keeping us there, and got back on the highway.

Well, actually we didn’t get back on to the highway, not then at least. We decided to completely bypass San Luis Obispo, and hug the coast a little more through Los Osos, which put us into Pismo Beach shortly before 5pm.

First stop of the trip in a hotel. We stayed at the Sandcastle Inn, right on the beach and got a room that looked out to the beach and central pier. It was worth the extra ten dollars.

As I mentioned previously, we splurged a bit on this trip than usual. No hostels here (though we were tempted to stay at the very colorful (in more ways than one) Beach Bungalow Hostel in San Diego. Sandcastle Inn won the value prize overall — hard to beat the location, views, comfort and amenities for the price in these here parts.

We parked, checked in, and headed straight for the water. And for our efforts, we were rewarded with a memorable sunset.

We absolutely loved the fact that it was February and so many people were out enjoying their town. It was pretty happenin’ for a Sunday night we thought. Most of the people around us struck us as locals rather than tourists, which was fun to experience in this small beachside community. We know that the weather was unusually perfect for any time of year, but still marveled at the fact that it’s possible for a scene like this to even be possible in early February.

In Portland or DC, not a chance.

In Belize…well, let’s just enjoy our time in Pismo, shall we?

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