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14 Awesome Things to Do in Cayucos, California

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!

Pier jutting into Pacific Ocean in Cayucos, California

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Also, please follow all local guidelines and regulations as it relates to travel during these rapidly changing times. Please double check hours and make sure restaurants, museums, stores, etc. are open for business before traveling.

Mural of the Four Horseman on the side of the Old Cayucos Tavern and Card Room

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!

Cass House Inn

Shoreline Inn

This Ocean Front Loft Rental looks AMAZING!

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!

Parking sign above yellow Mermaid Crossing sign with image of a mermaid

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!

Cass House

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.

Lunada Garden Bistro

Hidden Kitchen

Sea Shanty: We went for here breakfast with the twins since it seemed family friendly. Good breakfast, but slow service.

Honey Girl Cafe

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!

The historic yellow Cass House in Cayucos
Close up of clam chowder soup served in a bread bowl at Duckie's Chowder House in Cayucos
Interior of Duckie's Chowder House in Cayucos with diners eating at tables and on barstools

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.

Pier jutting into Pacific Ocean in Cayucos, California
Close up of one of the plaques on the Cayucos Pier which reads: LIFE IS GOOD with the family names Ording, Rank, and Hemer.
Sign posted on blue building reads "Warning: Mussels are unfit for human consumption and it is unlawful to take, sell, or offer them for sale from May 1st to October 31st. Clams should be cleaned and washed thoroughly before cooking. All dark parts should be discarded. Only the white meat should be prepared for cooking or eating. 
San Luis Obispo County Health Department Shellfish Biotoxin Information 1-800-553-4133

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.

Sand and beach waves in Cayucos with distant view of Morro Rock

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:

Good Clean Fun

Cayucos Surf Co.

Go Tidepooling

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.

Mural of the 4 horseman on the side of the Old Cayucos Tavern and Card Room
Mural of ____ using plastic trash found on the beach in Cayucos

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!

Hearst Ranch Winery

Moonstone Cellars

Cayucos Cellars

Harmony Cellars

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!

Brown Butter Cookie Company Logo of women baking cookies on the window at the store in Cayucos
Bags of Brown Butter Cookies for sale on a red shelf at the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos
Red exterior and green logo of the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos

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.

Exterior of the Candy Counter shop with it's black awnings and red bar

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.

Local Festivals

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!

Seaglass Festival

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!

Cambria

Harmony

Hearst Castle

14 Awesome Things to Do in Morro Bay

Pismo Beach

San Luis Obispo

Eat Pink Champagne Cake at the Madonna Inn

Piedras Blancas Light Station

Elephant Seals of Piedras Blancas

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!

Planning a trip? Be sure to save to Pinterest for later!

Land Acknowledgement

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.