Photography By : Jennifer Olson
These longer days and warmer temperatures beckon us. Instead of sitting in traffic while the day passes by why not try some exploring San Luis Obispo County on two wheels in the fresh air? And bike ownership is not required. Throughout the county there are a myriad of businesses that rent bicycles for all ages and abilities, so hop on a bike and pedal your way to adventure.
Bike shops have long rented out bikes for daily adventures, but for those looking for something more, rent through a bike tour service company. Once Paso Bike Tours has helped create a self-guided tour, they will drop off the chosen bikes, helmets, and locks wherever you are staying. With hundreds of wineries speckling the rolling topography, the options are endless. For those looking for something preplanned, Paso Bike Tours and Central Coast Outdoors both offer prepackaged tours that include guided riding with stops at award-winning wineries and lunch among stoic oak trees and hypnotic rows of grapes. Or try visiting one of the many olive oil farms in the area. Olea Farm and Kiler Ridge are just two examples of farms offering tastings and tours of their orchards, production process, and processing facilities.
Along the Coast
A tried-and-true ride that is pleasurable even if the weather is not cooperating consists of renting a bike from Sycamore Mineral Springs and Resort and hopping onto the adjacent Bob Jones Bike Trail. The family-friendly, sycamore-studded paved path follows the meandering San Luis Obispo Creek until it concludes in downtown Avila Beach. Reward yourself with a nutrient dense acai bowl made from locally grown produce at KravaBowl, or soak up the sounds of live music with ocean-front views over a glass of beer, wine, or cider at PierFront Wine and Brew. For a beachfront ride, pedal down the coast to Port San Luis Harbor and visit the historic, century and a half year old Harford Pier. Stock up on fresh offerings at the working seafood market. Before returning the bikes, make a pit stop at The Secret Garden. Partake in a lightly competitive game of cornhole, browse the fresh produce available from local growers, or cap off the day with a drink or charcuterie plate.
Along the coastline is Morro Bay, known for the massive Morro Rock that captures the gaze miles before reaching the feature. When visiting, rent a bike from one of the many bike rental purveyors such as Cal Coast Adventures, which has bikes of all sizes and for all ability levels and interests. Then travel to the one and only natural history museum in the California State Park System, and it happens to be in our own backyard: the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History is a quick bike ride down Main Street towards the Morro Bay Natural Estuary. This museum is ideal for anyone, especially children, interested in learning more about ocean and estuary history and geology. Or for an off-path adventure, rent a fat tire bike to explore off-paved pathway opportunities, such as riding from Morro Bay to Cayucos – completely on the sand. Once in Cayucos, swing by Cayucos Coffee for a drink sweetened with house-made syrups, or a superfood latte. Loop back to Morro Bay and refuel at family-owned Grassy Bar Oyster Company or fill up the panniers with fresh organic local produce at Avocado Shack.
Adventure awaits in South County, too. Head to Arroyo Grande to explore 4,200 acres of camping, water activities, hiking, and biking at Lopez Lake Recreation Area. These grounds, historically Chumash hunting and fishing sites, now offer riders views of the canyons and coastlines that are home to hundreds of plant, bird, and other animal species. There are plenty of picnic areas to savor the peace and serenity of this open space. The Lopez Lake Marina offers a full breakfast, lunch, and bar menu. Once refueled, ride to Vista Lago Adventure Park or Mustang Water Park. These seasonal attractions allow thrill-seekers to challenges on a ropes course and zipline park. Or take it easy and splash down a 600-foot twisting waterslide.
Armed with some ideas, avoid the high gas prices by ditching the car and opting for a bike. Experience the beauty of the area in a relaxed way, breathe in the fresh air, and reset.