You’re thinking about yet another weekend getaway. Palms Springs or Santa Barbara? They’re both great, but you’ve done them so many times.
So, leave early on Friday, get in the ride and drive west on the 210, out to the 134 west, until it all somehow magically becomes north on the 101. Cruise out of the Valley, past Hidden Hills and Calabasas, past the beach towns of Oxnard and Ventura, up along the wide, sweeping coastline on up past Santa Barbara. Take Highway 154 up the San Marcos Pass over and through the Santa Ynez Mountains for a quick lunch stop in Los Olivos (Yes, where they shot that movie), and catch up with Highway 1 near the farming communities of Buellton and Ballard.
Farms beget the beaches—Pismo and Avila— just south of San Luis Obispo, as the road curves inland through town. Keep going.
Soon the left side of your horizon is filled with the California coastline. Zooming just past Morro Bay, you’ll find the unincorporated San Luis Obispo County town of Cayucos. It’s just a sliver of a town tucked between the Pacific Ocean, Highway 1, and a small handful of stop signs, but the surf spot/foodie haven getaway offers a delicate handful of everything you go to a beach town for.
And just as you enter the town from Highway 1, is the perfect place to spend your weekend—The Pacific Motel. This is the roadside spot you wish actually existed other than in postcards and old movies.
Cayucos locals Ryan and Marisa Fortini have created a re-imagination of one of the town’s very first motels, with a collection of 1920s bungalows/barracks, originally moved to Cayucos in the 1950s from Camp San Luis Obispo, at the original location of the California National Guard.
There are six snazzy bungalows with seven guest rooms, and an additional redesigned 13 adjacent guest rooms, with that perfect California mixtape of traditional and hip.
The nattily decorated guest rooms— from 250 to 400 square feet—offer Parachute bed and bath linens, locally produced bath amenities, local art, a bluetooth speaker, a mini bar and enough outlets and USB spots to help fool you into thinking you’re really getting away from it all.
There are three bungalows with private outdoor patios and in-room gas fireplaces, while the lobby features an indoor fireplace, a fridge stocked with light refreshments, and a comfy lounge area for hanging and chatting.
Feel like a spin? Linus Bikes are parked out front for guests’ use.
In fact, the only thing missing from your Pacific Motel visit may be enough empty days on your calendar.
While the Cayucos population likely swells in the summer with tourists and surfers and cyclists, our winter visit, while sometimes rainy and mostly chilly, afforded us empty streets and beaches, with a choice of some of the best restaurants in a county already known for great eateries.
We enjoyed maybe the best meal in the history of breakfast at the unique Hidden Kitchen, where we ordered from a sidewalk takeout window before selecting a table indoors, away from the breezy beach porch. We feasted on a Monte Cristo with blue corn waffles, melted ham and cheese, maple syrup, mixed berry jam, grass-fed butter, and powdered sugar, along with a perfect cup of coffee.
Later that weekend we (almost) duplicated the experience with dinner at Schooner’s, where we promised ourselves to return in the summer to avail ourselves of the local music along with the first-rate seafood.
Highlighting both meal visits was the knowledge that we would eventually, after the beach and the food and the walks, happily return to Room 10 at the Pacific Hotel.
Schooners, 171 N Ocean Ave, Cayucos, CA 93430 (805) 995-3883.
Hidden Kitchen, 113 North Ocean Avenue, Cayucos, CA. hiddenkitchencalifornia.com.