increase font use small font sizeuse medium font sizeuse large font size

Avila Beach

In the 1990s, much of the little community of Avila Beach was demolished after an underground oil leak from a nearby tank farm was discovered. Now its waterfront, which curves around a cove with a wide, sandy beach, has been almost entirely rebuilt, and wheelchair riders will find easy access to both beach and town. Several concrete ramps lead on to the beach, and a concrete landing has a built-in table, handy for placing a book or cold drink while you admire the ocean. A wide promenade at the back of the beach curves north past Avila Ocean Park, which has an accessible playground and grassy area, to the outlet for San Luis Obispo Creek. Bird-watching is good here, and interpretive panels describe the birds you may see. Next to the grassy area is the Sea Life Center, with exhibits and a small aquarium. South of the beach are open-air restaurants, shops, and a plaza with nautical art and plenty of seating areas. Fishing is allowed from the 1,635-foot Avila Pier.  Combine a 1.5-mile hike on the trail with a swim at the beach and a picnic for a full day of activities.

Visitor center: The Sea Life Center, next to Avila Ocean Park (50 San Juan Street, 805-595-7280), provides hands-on educational experiences in marine science for children, parents, and teachers. Exhibits are under construction and not yet open to the general public; check the website for updates.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

A manual beach wheelchair is available at the Lighthouse Suites Hotel, one block from the beach at 550 Front Street. Call first for availability. The Beach Cruzr, a motorized beach wheelchair, is available from the Central Coast Assistive Technology Center, Reserve at least 48 hours in advance: (805) 748-2434.

Accessible Parking: Yes

At the foot of San Juan Street

Accessible Restroom: Yes

Next to Avila Pier and on beach side of Ocean Park

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

Next to the basketball courts at Ocean Park

Other Things of Interest

On the weekends, a free accessible trolley stops throughout town and at a trailhead for the Bob Jones City-to-the-Sea Trail.

Harfield Pier, a 1,340-foot-long, drive-on pier less than half a mile north of Avila Beach, is a popular spot for pier and commercial sport fishing. You can buy fish fresh off the boats or dine at one of several restaurants. Noisy sea lions gather under the pier. Parking and restrooms are accessible.
Ramp to beach
Ramp to beach (Jean Morrison)

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • bicycling
  • fishing
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: Port San Luis Harbor District
Address: Front St., Avila Beach
Nearest City: Avila Beach
Phone: (805) 595-5400
Hours: No posted hours
Fees: None
Dogs: On leash
Allowed before 10 am and after 5 pm
Public Transportation: SLO Regional Transit
Useful Links: Sea Life Center

Did You Know?

Shrimp can only swim backwards.

Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, October 14, 2008
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing