-Photo by Greg Aragon
If I close my eyes I can almost see the old wooden pier standing in the sea and hear the rocks rolling in the waves outside my window. I can almost feel the refreshing ocean breeze filter through my beach-front room. And I can almost taste all the wonderful food I had during my recent getaway to Avila Beach.
It all began last week when a friend and I rented a car and drove about three hours north of Los Angeles to the charming little beachside town, where we checked into Avila Lighthouse Suites and set up camp for a couple nights.
Located across the street from the beach, Avila Lighthouse Suites is a bright and cheerful boutique hotel, reminiscent of a Californian watercolor painting. The hotel’s exterior is highlighted by a an iconic wooden tower, sitting above an outdoor heated pool and spa, a small putting green and life-size chess board in a spacious plaza.
Inside the 54-room boutique hotel, the rooms are modern and comfortable. Our two-room suite boasted a bedroom with two queen beds, a large flat screen TV, and a fireplace; a living room with sofa bed, chair, office desk and another fireplace; a full sized kitchen, with large refrigerator and all the amenities.
The room also came with free wireless Internet and a large private balcony overlooking the pool and the Avila Boardwalk and beach. From the balcony we watched boats sail past the pier, people relaxing in the sand, and all the action on the boardwalk. The lanai was also a great place to unwind at night with a bottle of wine.
Once we settled into our room, we explored the area. Our first stop was the Creekside Apple Farm, where we met farmer/owner Ed Evenson and Donna Peterson. We began our visit by sampling a few of the farm’s latest apple varietals and sipping some of their famous unpasteurized apple cider. We then hopped in an off-road golf cart with Ed and his Jack Russell dog named Penny and toured the 15-acre farm.
Along the way we cut through thick, lush orchards, tasting varieties such as Gala, Jona-Gold, Winesap, Golden Delicious and Fuji’s, Arkansas Black, Granny Smith, Gold Rush and Pink Ladies. All Creekside apples are sustainably grown, tree ripened and never stored.
Ed says his apples are unique because of the micro-climate the farm is situated in, two miles from the ocean, in a canyon with steep hills and a natural heat retention. Apple season runs through December 4. Besides apples, he also grows persimmons, pears, squash and grapes for wine, which he also produces on the property.
Before saying goodbye to Ed, we drove to a secluded hilltop, overlooking vineyards, where he showed us his romantic and cozy two-bedroom cottage that he rents out to people in the know.
From Creekside, we drove a quarter mile to Gardens of Avila Restaurant, where we met Chef Robert Trestor and enjoyed an incredible dinner. Located in a garden setting at Sycamore Mineral Springs Spa & Resort, the restaurant serves California Coastal wine-country cuisine and showcases the bounty of local and organic farms, ranches and culinary artisans in the Central Coast area region.
Before eating, Chef Trestor showed us his personal garden, where he grows herbs and spices for his daily creations. We then sat down to a bowl of roasted corn soup, with smoked jalapeno, bacon and brioche croutons, followed by Morro Bay oysters, fresh tomato and garden radish.
For the main course my friend went with an incredibly tender prime sirloin cap, with braised greens, crushed potatoes, bone marrow crust, bordelaise. I devoured pan roasted sea scallops, brown butter roasted squash, bacon, and apple glaze.
After dinner we headed back to Lighthouse Suites and soaked in the Jacuzzi. In the morning I worked out at the fitness center, enjoyed the hotel’s free continental breakfast.
Next week I continue my tour of charming Avila Beach, tasting local wine, playing basket ball on the beach, getting up close with sea lions, and more.
For more information on Avila Lighthouse Suites, call 800-372-8452 or visit: www.avilalighthousesuites.com. For more info on Gardens of Avila Restaurant, visit: www.sycamoresprings.com/taste. For Creekside Farm, call 805-595-9515. And for general info on Avila Beach, visit: www.visitavilabeach.com/.