Beautiful open spaces, minimal traffic and congestion, panoramic views, and a safe community: The Central Coast is tailor-made for a fun and easy family vacation that takes the pressure off. Many Central Coast activities will keep your kids occupied by learning more about wildlife, nature, and more; often while also getting exercise and expanding their horizons of knowledge. Here are our suggestions for the most enjoyable activities on the Central Coast that are perfect for kids and parents alike.
1. Monarch Butterfly Grove
Thousands of butterflies taking flight in the winter air of Pismo Beach is a sight that your entire family will never forget. The regal and picturesque Monarch butterflies cluster in massive groups in the tall eucalyptus trees near the shores of Pismo Beach, sheltering in our relatively warm coastal area before they migrate North to colder waters. Be sure to visit the Monarch Butterfly grove during the Monarchs’ peak season, November-February, to see the maximum amount of butterflies and witness a miracle, and inexplicable phenomenon, of nature.
2. Rent Sea Kayaks
When you rent a kayak and explore the Central Coast by sea, you catch a glimpse of another world that isn’t visible from the sand. Atop the glistening waters of the Pacific, you’ll glide, explore, and learn about the ocean and its natural habitats. Don’t miss the chance to see more, explore more, and witness more when you kayak through the Central Coast. Try Morro Bay for a pleasant and open atmosphere, or visit Pismo Beach to explore the caves and cliffs and witness wildlife. To follow up this awesome experience, teach the kids even more about sea wildlife with a trip to the Central Coast Aquarium.
3. Rent Bikes
If renting a kayak allows you to explore the ocean on another level, renting bikes lets you understand the Central Coast lifestyle on land. Check out any one of our trail suggestions, or try a new one, but we guarantee that you’ll find a new appreciation for the landscape of this rugged and beautiful slice of the California Coast. Keep in mind the difficulty of the trails and pick the best one for your family. Biking throughout downtown SLO or alongside the ocean near Pismo Beach are some easy options.
4. Go Tide-pooling
A fun, outdoor activity that is both fun and educational, checking out the local tide pools is an excellent activity for the whole family. Be sure to check the tide calendar so that you can visit your preferred beach at a low-tide hour. Follow these tips to maximize your experience and your enjoyment, all while preserving the life that exists in the tide-pools of the Central Coast!
5. Bubblegum Alley
If anything is kid-friendly on the Central Coast, it might be the small alley, between two buildings, in San Luis Obispo that is completely adorned with already-been-chewed bubble gum. Bubblegum Alley has become a staple of San Luis Obispo and its quirky charm, with tourists and residents alike regularly leaving their gum on the adorned walls. This kitschy, small-town attraction is a fun place for kids; they can make their mark on the wall, or just laugh about the sweet smell of JuicyFruit throughout the entire alley.
6. Elephant Seal Rookery
Discover elephant seal’s unique habitat and personality during a family outing to San Simeon, California. This six mile stretch of beach is a semi permanent home to thousands of elephant seals. These creatures actually spend eight to ten months a year out in the open waters, but return to the Central Coast twice yearly for birthing, breeding, molting, and rest. Witness it all for yourself during the peak season to view the most elephant seals, which is December through March. Seals will be at the rookery throughout the entire year, however, but you’ll witness the most action during those winter months. Learn more on the Friends of the Elephant Seal website.
7. Dinosaur Caves Park
Due to its close proximity to several of Martin Resorts’ hotels and its wide open space to play, Dinosaur Caves Park is a must-stop for families with children. Bring a picnic lunch from Depalo & Sons or Hoagies in Pismo Beach and spend an afternoon playing, relaxing, and soaking up the sun on the oceanfront park. It’s situated atop the cliffs of Pismo, with a beautiful view and refreshing sea air. Additionally, if you’d like to explore the sand, the park is very close to stairs that provide beach access.
8. Sunset Drive-in
Visiting the drive-in is such a classic activity, exciting in its novelty and simplicity. At Sunset Drive-in in San Luis Obispo, the price can’t be beat. A ticket is $8 and that includes two different movies, one usually showing around 8:30 and the other at 10:30. The releases are often kid-friendly, including the current lineup of Finding Dory and the Jungle Book. Even if you can’t make it through both films, the drive-in is an excellent way to spend an evening that the kids will delight in.
9. Avila Valley Barn
With enough activities for the kids and products, fresh produce, and more for you, Avila Valley Barn promises a fun afternoon adventure. Buy a few carrots and your kids can feed goats, pigs, sheep and more at their adorable petting zoo. You can experience anything related to farm life at the Avila Valley Barn, including tasting fresh pie from their country bakery, taking a fun tractor ride, or picking fresh fruit that you can take home for yourself.