This past weekend Drew and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary of togetherness with a trip to San Luis Obispo. Why SLO? Well, besides being named the happiest place in America, SLO has the perfect balance of adventure and romance all in one incredible place!
Our first destination was Montana de Oro (Mountain of Gold) State Park, located right along the coast. We made it here just in time for a seaside lunch, I don’t think we could have paid for a more incredible view. Check out Drew grillin’ like it’s his job.
With our tanks happily filled, we headed to the Hazard Peak trailhead to try on our mountain biking skills. This 8- mile roundtrip journey starts with a relentless 930′ ascent with sweeping ocean views.
Described as a “relatively tame trail,” I was somewhat surprised by the amount of rocks, steep drops and uneven footing that we were met by. Drew was bombing all around, having the time of his life, while I more timidly succeeded at challenging myself, and my Schwinn, until the very end.
Luckily, at the top of Hazard Peak, we met some friendly and experienced locals who provided us with a map and a much better plan for getting back down the mountain. We had originally planned on taking Islay Creek Road based off of this post, but after their warnings, we decided to follow them down, taking a left at Manzanita, riding through the marshes of Horse Camp Road and ending with an enjoyable and smooth descent through a forest of Eucalyptus along Pecho Valley Road.
After miles of incredible SLO views, we finally made it back to Spooner’s Cove for some much needed rest. We even found a lounge chair carved into sandstone to enjoy the fresh ocean breeze!
From here, we hopped back into the car and headed to our next destination: The (FAMOUS) Madonna Inn.
Before checking into our room, we decided to roam about the insanely unique rooms, restaurants and bathrooms located in the main area. Yes, that’s right, we said bathrooms – one of the most notable being the men’s room located on the underground level. Drew was pleasantly surprised when he walked up to the urinal to find a motion detecting waterfall right at this feet! This bathroom might as well be unisex because ladies can almost always be found taking photos in here, myself included.
After finally getting over the initial excitement of this Disney-like resort, we moseyed on over to our American Home, a grand and spacious room with an expansive natural stone fireplace, decorated to embrace the song, “America the Beautiful.”
All squeaky, clean and ready for dinner, we left in pursuit of the best seafood in SLO, found at Trip Advisor’s #1 rated restaurant, Ciopinot. Noted for its incredible quality, service and ambiance, this treasure, also voted as the #1 best 1st date spot (or 4th year anniversary), is also known for having no corkage fee! until your 5th bottle that is… which, at that point, you simply won’t notice.
For starters, along with our bouteille of red, we had the fresh oyster trio: a Kumamoto Oyster, Pacific Oyster and Blue Point Oyster. The winner? The Kumamoto Oyster topped with the house specialty “hogwash” sauce.
For dinner Drew went for the evening’s special, surf and turf with a gourmet twist. Garlic mashed potatoes layered with roasted asparagus, natural prime grade flat iron steak, Australian cold water lobster tail, baked and served with clarified butter… it’s safe to say that Drew was in heaven after his first bite, and every bite there after.
And I, being a lacto- pescetarian and part-time salmon connoisseur, couldn’t resist the charbroiled Scottish salmon topped with ginger soy wasabe sauce, paired with asparagus and rice pilaf. Something to note: during salmon season Ciopinot sends out its own boats to fish for its evening’s dishes.
And for the grand finale, we couldn’t resist the glowing blue berry cobbler a la mode, complete with flavors to carry us through until the next year’s anniversary.
The next morning we awoke just in time for a fire-side breakfast before zipping on over to Margarita Adventures for our zip line canopy tour!
Just a short 15-minute commute from the Madonna Inn lies the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which is what we would be flying over 3,000 combined feet over, catching glimpses of cows, deer, bald eagles and expansive views of the Santa Margarita vineyards, which were carefully developed by Robert Mondavi.
One of the things we liked most about this 2.5 hour experience, in addition to the incredibly kind and knowledgeable staff, beautiful weather and the always exhilarating adrenaline rush, was the fact that they always did what they could to ensure that everyone was having a great time. They even gave Drew a pumpkin to drop, while he was zip lining, on the bulls eye painted hundreds of feet below! He almost hit it too ;)
With our feet back on the ground, we headed over to the The Porch, a yummy local sandwich joint located just steps away from Margarita Adventures,
From there we made our way over to the serene, 5 mile (round trip) “Bob Jones City to Sea” bike path (map here), parking just past the KOA Campground on Ontario Road. This mostly paved path took us under tree canopies and along a huge golf course before leading us to the quaint downtown area of Avila Beach, where we were lucky enough to catch a friendly seal sun bathing on the rocks.
After a weekend of amazing views, delicious food and incredible memories, we can’t help but look forward to what year 5 will bring…