I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The beach town of Cayucos, California is a true hidden treasure along the Central Coast. A dog-friendly, slow-and-quiet town filled with pirates, cowboys, and treasure hunting along with amazing food and delicious cookies – this town has everything you need for a perfect weekend getaway! Keep reading to discover 14 fun things to do in Cayucos, California!
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What to Do in Cayucos
History of Cayucos
Let’s start with a quick history of Cayucos. It was settled by the Chumash and Salinan people in 11-10,000 BC, the first European explorers arrived in 1769, “Cayucos” is named after “cayuco” the Hispanicization of the Chumash name for a small kayak or canoe, and in 1867 Captain James Cass “settled” the land, “founded” the town, and built a pier, a store, and a warehouse and it was originally known as Cass’ Landing.
Where to Stay in Cayucos
There are several choices for places to stay in Cayucos! I’ve been wanting to stay at the Cass House Inn, but it’s always booked for the dates I’m traveling. On our most recent trip with our twin toddlers, we stayed at a very kid-friendly Airbnb with amazing ocean views!
Bella Vista Airbnb: We stayed here with the twins. It was very clean, baby/kid-friendly, had amazing ocean views, and walkable to almost everything!
Where to Eat in Cayucos
There are so many delicious places to eat in Cayucos that you can’t visit them all during one trip! Here’s a quick list so you can start making your meal decisions!/
Cayucos Gas Mini Mart: I know what you’re thinking. A gas station? For tacos? And the answer is a big YES! According to reviews: “Best tacos is an understatement!” Go to this gas station for some of the best street tacos and burritos in California!
Duckie’s Chowder House: Award winning! I say try both the clam chowder bread bowl at Duckie’s Chowder House and the clam chowder bread bowl at the Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach and let me know in the comments which one you think is better!
Ocean Front Pizza: We had takeout pizza one night while we were there with the twins. Not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but definitely not the worst. Hits the spot when at the beach all day.
Sea Shanty: We went for here breakfast with the twins since it seemed family friendly. Good breakfast, but slow service.
Schooners Wharf: Enjoy one of their legendary Bloody Marys or a beer or glass of wine on their top ocean-front deck! We tried to get in here, but between a live band and trying to get a double stroller and two tired twins up the stairs to the top deck, we gave up and went with takeout pizza instead. Next time!
What to Do in Cayucos:
Go for a Stroll Along the Cayucos Pier
Walk the planks! Go for a sunrise or sunset walk along the pier, grab an ice cream or some candy from the Candy Counter for your scenic stroll, but be sure to watch out for the flying fishing lines because fishing is allowed!
Fishing without a license is legal is along the Cayucos pier. Bring your own line or call one of the local surf shops below to see if they rent fishing gear.
Play on the Beach
With 6 miles of white sand beach, have some fun in the sun and the sand! Lifeguards are on duty during peak summer months. There’s an awesome playground on the sand for the kids, picnic tables, restrooms, and outdoor showers nearby for rinsing.
Try Surfing or Kayaking
What’s more fitting than kayaking in a place named after a kayak (or canoe)?
Here’s a couple links for shops offering surf board or kayak rentals:
Highway 1 Discovery Route has an excellent post on tide pools in the Cayucos area and I encourage you to read it before exploring. And remember:
“And always remember: as tempting as it is to touch tide pool inhabitants, doing so is illegal. Teach little ones especially to enjoy tide pools with their eyes, only.”Highway 1 Discovery Route
Take a Hike at the Estero Bluffs State Park Hiking Trail
Estero Bluffs State Park: It’s a 4-mile trail. Wear some sunscreen and bring your water bottle!
Be sure to check out the beached boat called “Point Estero” along the hike. During low tide, you can wade out to it from the shore for some great tidepooling!
Another option a bit further away: The Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. A one-mile boardwalk that meanders along the beautiful coast. Perfect for those with strollers or needing something a bit more accessible than a trail hike.
Go on a Mural Tour
The little town of Cayucos has over 9 murals including 13 Old Western paintings inside the Old Cayucos Tavern. You can use this tour map for where to see all the murals in person, although I think it is missing the Old Cayucos Tavern and Card Room mural as well as the “Let’s Turn This Tide!” mural on the side of the skate park located at 55B Ocean Front Ave, Cayucos, CA.
The plastic bottle cap mural is being created on a previous painting done by local children asking to “Keep Cayucos Clean.” It’s a work in progress coordinated by Ingrid Goelz as they collect more and more caps from the beach.
Visit the Cayucos Historical Society and Museum
The Cayucos Historial Society and Museum is located right next to the pier in the Vets Hall! It’s open on weekends and admission is FREE so there’s no reason to miss it!
Go Treasure Hunting at the Antique Stores
Speaking of history, I remember going to these exact same antique stores when I was a kid with my parents and always told not to touch anything! I knew I turned into my parents when my husband and I started browsing the antique stores, too!
Go Wine Tasting
Ok, so these are actually in Cambria since the only tasting room in Cayucos unfortunately closed, but with so many awesome wineries close by, I had to include them!
Try a Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookie
The Brown Butter Cookie Company is in my opinion the reason to visit Cayucos. I will drive out of my way for those cookies! Luckily, they also have locations in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo!
Don’t just get a pack of six. Trust me. You need one pack of six PER PERSON, plus at least one each to eat in the car while you’re driving to your next destination!
Play Poker at the Old Cayucos Tavern and Poker Room
The Old Cayucos Tavern and Poker Room offers $40 buy-in, “No-limit” style Texas Hold ‘Em Poker every Friday and Saturday night at 9am in their poker rooms!
Get Some Ice Cream or Candy from the Candy Counter
Ice cream, candy, chocolate, or taffy from the Candy Counter.
Tour an Abalone Farm
You can allegedly tour this Abalone Farm on Thursdays; however, note that they do not advertise this, their website is down, and they have no signs posted to get there. Call and confirm before showing up for a tour.
Take Home Some Hot Sauce
One of my favorite parts of any trip is looking for souvenirs to take home for my friends and family to enjoy. And I LOVE edible souvenirs! I don’t know much about Cayucos Hot Sauce other than what it reads on it’s website, that it’s:
“Crafted by surfers, enjoyed by all!”Cayucos Hot Sauce
Here’s a list of the many retailers, shops, and restaurants in town which sell Cayucos Hot Sauce.
Polar Bear Dip
People come from all over to participate in the Polar Bear Dip and jump into the cold water every January 1st to celebrate the new year!
The Seaglass Festival is held every March (with closures due to the pandemic, be sure to check the website for details and dates).
Other Nearby Options and Places to Visit
There are so many other places nearby to visit! Here’s a short list with either links to my blog posts or the official website so you can learn more!
San Luis Obispo
We had such an awesome time in Cayucos and can’t wait to visit again soon! Are you planning a trip? Which activities are you looking forward to doing? Let me know in a comment below!
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Golden State Getaways wants to acknowledge that we live, operate, gather, and benefit everyday on the traditional stolen lands of several Indigenous peoples and nations including the Tongva (Gabrieleno), Kizh (Gabrieleno), Chumash, Popeloutchom (Amah Mutsun), Ohlone, Awaswas, and Fernandeño Tataviam peoples who have stewarded the lands and waterways throughout their many generations in what is now the state of California.
I wanted to personally acknowledge these Indigenous people and nations and both their commitment and current contributions to the land with a donation to the American Indian College Fund because acknowledgment without action does not begin to address the systemic issues facing Indigenous people. If you feel as though you benefit from the land you’re living on or traveling to and you have the means, I kindly ask that you donate at least $1 to a Native-led organization such as the Native American Rights Fund or the American Indian College Fund.
Cayucos is located on Chumash, Obispeño, and Salinan land. You can learn more about the Indigenous land you’re living on or traveling to by visiting the Native Lands website.