Here are five suggestions for fun and interesting things that you can do that will keep you from going stir-crazy this weekend — and maybe you’ll even learn something new about San Luis Obispo County’s diverse and spectacular environment.
1. Go for a hike
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With hundreds of hiking trails covering thousands of acres of open space around San Luis Obispo County, it’s easy to understand why the outdoors community here is thriving.
The 6,500 acres of open space surrounding San Luis Obispo alone offer more than 40 miles of hiking trails. Add in all the trails found in the string of coastal State Parks, in county parks and Los Padres National Forest in the county, and there is truly something for every interest and fitness level.
2. Take a walk on the beach
If you’re looking for wide sandy beaches, Pismo State Beach, Morro Strand State Beach north of Morro Rock and the Morro Bay Sand Spit are your best bets. Dress warmly and wear shorts so you can wade into the surf and feel the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean swirl around your ankles.
Another excellent choice is Hearst San Simeon State Park. Start at the pier and head south. This beach is interesting because it includes both sandy beaches and numerous large rocks rising out of the surf.
3. Go visit the monarch butterflies
The winter aggregation of monarch butterflies along the coast is rightly described as one of the most spectacular natural spectacles.
The easily-accessible monarch grove on Highway 1 in Pismo Beach is one of the best places to see tens of thousands of the colorful insects cluster in the limbs of eucalyptus trees.
A count conducted on Sunday recorded 12,269 butterflies, fewer than this time a year ago when more than 19,000 butterflies had arrived by Thanksgiving weekend.
Trained and knowledgeable docents are on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to talk about the life cycle and migration routes of the butterflies, weather permitting.
4. Take a tour of Hearst Castle
Touring William Randolph Hearst’s former estate could burn off more calories than you might expect — there’s plenty of walking involved.
Tickets are still available for multiple tours during the holiday weekend. And, if you opt for the Upstairs Suites Tour, all 322 spiral stairs leading to the upper levels of Casa Grande will be waiting.
The Grand Rooms Tour is recommended for first-time visitors and is considered to be the least strenuous.
Visit reservecalifornia.com for ticket prices and to schedule a tour.
5. Kayak or paddleboard in Morro Bay
The tranquil waters around the Morro Bay harbor are perfect for kayaking or paddleboarding, regardless of experience level.
Head down to Kayak Horizons, owned by Dennis and Deborah Krueger, to rent equipment and seek advice on where to find the otters and seals that play in the bay.
And with the unusually warm weather this week, taking holiday guests out on the water with Morro Rock as the backdrop will be a memorable experience for all.