Hidden Gem Cayucos is a Best Kept Secret Along California Highway 1

Photo by McChizzle, Wikipedia.org

Cayucos is that convenient and affordable coastal retreat immersed in the finest qualities that make the Central Coast unlike anywhere else in California. The sleepy town nestled along California Highway 1 remains a hidden gem and local secret. Its iconic 982-foot-long pier – originally built in 1873 by Captain James Cass, ‘the father of Cayucos,” – juts into the Pacific Ocean, offering one of the most scenic spots to soak in sweeping panoramas of the area’s unfathomable natural beauty.

Wake up to seagulls perched atop the streetlamps and the distant bark of a sea lion as the cool ocean breeze gently kisses your cheek. The bucolic beach town’s main drag features boutiques, cafes and restaurants but whose location offers plenty to experience.

Courtesy Lindsey Hahn Photography


The Cass House (222 North Ocean Ave.) originally built in 1865 for James Cass and his family, is a charming East Lake Victorian, 5-bedroom boutique hotel located across the street from the beach. A grass lawn with multiple gardens surrounds the fully renovated house whose airy rooms and homey fixtures compliment the authentic feel and personable experience unique to a stay at Cass House.

The Cass House Bakery and Grill are both located on the same property and whose delectable menus feature seasonal produce grown in the property’s garden and sourced from around the region including local farmers’ markets.


Ruddell’s Smokehouse (101 D Street) serves up the area’s best fish tacos including local favorites albacore and salmon tacos served cold with freshly chopped apples and celery.

Schooners (171 North Ocean Ave.) Take in enviable views overlooking the ocean and the pier at the nautical-themed seafood restaurant. As an appetizer, try the crab cakes with roasted corn salsa & lemon pepper aioli. For dinner, the salmon risotto with tomatoes and asparagus is paired well with Tolosa Pinot Noir.

Courtesy Schooners Cayucos


Old Cayucos Tavern and Cardroom (130 North Ocean Ave.) is the local watering hole in town known simply as “The Tavern” whose ceiling above the bar is completely covered in U.S. dollar bills.


Walk along the beach amongst driftwood and a kaleidoscope of colorful stones to discover starfish and many other sea life in tide pools.

Sample the infamous homemade cookies made daily by Brown Butter Cookie Company (98 North Ocean Ave.) a staple fixture in Cayucos.

Stroll the breezy Cayucos pier but keep an eye out for marine wildlife including bottlenose dolphins, grey whales, sea otters, and sea lions.

Hike through Harmony Headlands State Park (Hwy. 1 and Sea West Dr.) where the picturesque landscape teems with wildflowers, brush rabbits, and mule deer. The two-mile trail (one way) through rolling hills is best experienced at sunrise when the singing of birds and the ruffle of the grasses is the soundtrack to stunning ocean views.

Visit Avila Valley Barn (560 Avila Beach Dr.), a 46-acre family-owned and operated farm growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and more. Pick up jams, jellies or hand-picked seasonal produce. Homemade pies are baked daily and are not to miss.

Getting There

From Paso Robles take CA-46 West to Old Creek Road whose scenic drive down to the coast of Cayucos passes through farmland, orchards and vineyards.

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