Everyone could use some Avila magic

Mackenzie Bedford/Staff

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While most of us would love to be able to traverse the globe in our time off from school, such endeavors are quite costly and time consuming. It is much more realistic for most of us to be able to make our way to somewhere close enough to Berkeley and all of your responsibilities here that you could make it back relatively quickly, but it would also be far enough away to be able to forget the stresses of life for a moment. Luckily for those of us in California, a ton of places exist just a few hours away. One such place is Avila Beach, located right along the Central Coast (about a four-hour shot from Berkeley right down the 101). And believe us, it’s worth the drive.

Set inside a bit of a cove, the beach is relatively calm and warmer than a lot of the surrounding area. Almost every day — without fail and regardless of the omnipresent veil of fog in the mornings — the beach is sunny and warm by around noon. This doesn’t make the water any less bitingly cold, but it makes it a bit more tolerable when it reaches above 75 degrees on the sand. The general lack of waves for the majority of the time allows you to be able to actually swim around and all the way out to the buoys, if you feel so inclined and aren’t deterred by the occasionally posted signs warning of the possibility of sharks.

There is the unfortunate drawback of the near-constant presence of tourists strewn along the sand. Due to the beauty and unusual warmth of this particular beach in comparison to the surrounding ones like Pismo Beach, it is a hub for visitors who want to enjoy the picturesque coastline. We recommend going early and claiming not only a spot on the sand but also a coveted close parking spot. By midday it is nearly impossible, except with some seriously good karma, to find a parking spot that doesn’t require at least a 10-minute walk. But the tourists don’t usually make it out there before 11 a.m.

If you can get there on a Friday, we highly recommend stopping by the afternoon farmer’s market that takes place along the boardwalk. It’s full of quirky people who are somewhat reminiscent of the characters you see along Telegraph Avenue on any given Saturday in Berkeley. There is always some sort of band that inspires the adults to join in some awkwardly amusing dancing. Food booths that line the way include delicious grub like fresh fish tacos, crepes, tri-tip sandwiches, roasted corn and — our favorite — homemade pie.

This little piece of paradise lends itself to relaxation and beautiful sunsets. Taking a walk to the end of the pier with some pie to watch the sunset is pretty fantastic. It’s also hard to beat just lying in the sand and sun, reading a good book and enjoying a beautiful summer. Avila Beach provides the perfect escape from the bustle of the city and demands of daily life without breaking the bank.

Contact Mackenzie Bedford at [email protected]