Los Osos: Things To Do

Wednesday November 19, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Are you visiting Los Osos or the Baywood Park area of town for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in this California coastal community.
 

squash blossoms, Farmers' Market, Los Osos, California

Los Osos Farmers’ Market. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is Montaña de Oro State Park, but I also take them to check out Spooner’s Cove, and a short hike down the bluff trail to Corallina Cove for a more local, authentic experience. Baywood, a small community tucked in Los Osos on the most southern inlet of Morro Bay is also worth a look.
 
Spooner’s Cove got its name, not from kissing, but from a long time ranching family named Spooner. It is where the Park headquarters is located, in the old ranch house. A relatively little known, and fairly new trail is the Point Buchon Trail, stunning views along the coast.
 
There are a number of great trails in the park, especially for mountain bikers and equestrians.
 


 
When I want to escape from everyone and be surrounded in nature, my favorite thing to do is to kayak
out to sandspit – private tours are available via Central Coast Outdoors.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend walking to the bench at the end of the trail in the Elfin Forest for kissing with a view or Sweet Springs Nature Reserve.
 

ducks, Sweet Springs Nature Reserve, Los Osos, California

Birdwatching at Sweet Springs Nature Reserve. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Are you traveling with a dog or two? The best place to walk the dog is Cuesta Inlet. This is private property, but the owner has been very generous and allows people to walk their dogs there. Plus he allows people to keep their kayaks and sailboats there too as long as they are licensed and have contact info on them. But please pick up after your dog. That means bring your own bags and carry them out with you. There are no trash cans.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the skate park. It’s located in the middle of town and is excellent, the beach at Pasadena Street is good, too. The Los Osos Library has a number of kids’ programs, events and reading programs, perfect for entertaining kids while traveling.
 

Noi's Thai, Los Osos, California

Noi’s Thai Takeout. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Food in and around Los Osos

Los Osos has an eclectic dining scene; favorites include La Palapa in Baywood and La Casita on 9th Street (best salsa this side of the border) for Mexican food, Noi’s for Thai and Celia’s for lunch, or the Clubhouse Grill at Sea Pines Golf Resort for sandwiches and salads with live music on the weekends during the summer.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat, hands down, is Back Bay Café in Baywood. The cafe sits right on the bay and breakfast is included with your stay at Back Bay Inn or Baywood Inn. Sweet!

Looking for cheap food in Los Osos? Sylvester’s Burgers has famously good HUGE and drippy (with great sauce) hamburgers.

Hungry for late night dining? Don’t get your hopes up, Los Osos Baywood is a rural destination offering outdoor adventure and relaxation. It really doesn’t offer much of a late night dining scene. Most restaurants close by 9 p.m. There are a few that stay open later in Morro Bay on the weekends.

Thinking about an expensive, high-end meal, head to Morro Bay for plenty of dining options. It’s about a 10 minute drive from LOBP (Los Osos Baywood Park). For some of the freshest seafood on the central coast and a fantastic dining experience head to the Galley, Windows on the Water, Harada’s Japanese restaurant and Bayside Café in Morro Bay.
 

Lace Lichen, Elfin Forest, Los Osos, California

Lace Lichen hangs from the trees in Elfin Forest. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Los Osos outward bound

Are you getting a clearer picture of this central coast area? Outdoor adventures like hiking, exploring nature, biking, kayaking, sailing and paddle boarding, layered with California sunsets, is what this place is about. At high tide, adventure seekers can paddle through the mudflats and channels of the Morro Bay Estuary Natural Preserve and its 800-acre wetland. It’s a refreshing dose of natural beauty.

To capture this beauty, get your picture taken in Baywood Park, Elfin Forest, Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Montaña de Oro or on the Sandspit. The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Black Hill or Valencia Peak in Montaña de Oro. You can also drive to the top of Cabrillo Estates, hike to the top of Valencia Peak (in Montaña de Oro – a hearty hike) or Elfin Forest, or kayak or hike out to the top of the sandspit or back to the little known “Sharks Inlet” and the farthest westerly spot on Morro Bay, and the hill on top of the Natural History Museum in Morro Bay.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the bluff trail in Montaña de Oro right along the ocean or any of the countless miles of awesome trails. After a day of adventure, Sea Pines is the best place to go for a spa treatment.

If you are a museum lover you’ll need to head over to Morro Bay. The Natural History Museum (the only museum in Morro Bay) is actually pretty good for kids, offering interactive kiosks.
 

Pacific Ocean, Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos, California

Montaña de Oro State Park. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Looking for exciting night life? You’ll need to head to San Luis Obispo for things to do. LOBP is lower key after dark. There are a few bars that offer music and pool and are open late night: Sweet Springs Tavern and the Merry Maker. Again, Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo provide more expansive night life opportunities.
 
Sometime, come back and check out the Pozo Saloon. Pozo is south east of Santa Margarita. It’s over 100 years old and hasn’t changed much in all that time. GREAT family style BBQ where you sit family style. You never know who you’ll be sitting next to. Could be a group of retired physicians or the Hell’s Angels.

If you need more things to see and do in Los Osos, New Times and Bay News will keep you posted on what’s happening in the area. KCBX Public Radio has an extensive calendar of events.
 

Morro Rock, Morro Bay, Los Osos, California

Morro Rock photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
You can tell a lot about Los Osos from visiting and watching Baywood Junefest, Octoberfest, Boatzart & Bayfest. Sea Pines offers a summer concert series. In the fall look for migrating Monarch butterflies at Monarch Grove or come for the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, held over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. More than 250 species of land, sea, and shore birds, both migratory and resident and dozens of endangered species thrive here in the winter. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars!
 
Insider Tip: I’ll bet you didn’t know that you could kayak out to the sandspit & enjoy miles of secluded, beautiful beaches. Just outside of Los Osos, you can visit Morro Bay or the charming beach town of Cayucos.
 
What are your favorite things to do on California’s Central Coast? For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter.
 

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Los Osos Baywood Park.

Shop Morro Bay, California

Monday November 17, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Here in California we dutifully recycle our leaves, lawn clippings and tree trimmings, our newspapers and magazines and even our food scraps. However, many of us don’t think about recycling clothing or shoes. Antiques are fashionable to collect, but recycled vintage fashion? This holiday season I tasked myself with giving recycled holiday gifts. I selected Morro Bay as my shopping destination because the coastal beach town has a high concentration of antique and vintage thrift shops clustered together in two areas.

 

Threads, Morro Bay, California, thrift store

Threads photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Threads, shoes, Morro Bay, California

Recycled shoes. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
 

 

Thrift store alley

My shopping spree started on Main Street and moved along to Morro Bay Blvd. The other area for antiques is located near Highway 41 and 2200 Main Street. I needed to purchase gifts for guys and gals, hard to please fashionistas, baby boomers and my 90 year old mother. Of course, I couldn’t help picking up a couple of items for myself. I’m pleased to say that I did find something for everyone and I kept under my $500 holiday shopping budget.
 

Castaway, Morro Bay, California

One person’s Castaways is another person’s treasure. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

“I like thrift store shopping because it’s about being conscious about where you are buying things and who you are giving your money to,” says Kaya Moody of Castaways.

 

At the Summer Cottage, the store is like a treasure trove for all occasions. Owner Kay Crocker says the name Summer Cottage came from the fact that Morro Bay always has perfect California weather. “It’s an older community that has come full circle,” notes Crocker. We’re a throw back to the 50’s and 60’s. There’s a retro feel to the whole town.”

 

Summer Cottage, Morro Bay, California

There’s a retro feel to Morro Bay. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Vinyl Isle is a perfect example of retro. The funky Morro Bay music store is home to hundreds of vinyl records and has rock and roll promotional posters tacked to the ceiling. I could easily see The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia walking into this green-colored cottage to check out the record selection if he were alive today.
 
Vinyl Isle, music store, record store

Music posters and vinyl records hang from the ceiling of Vinyl Isle. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
When I walked into Castaways thrift store, Bob Marley was playing on the radio and three fashionable young ladies were flipping through racks of clothes like line cooks slinging hash in the kitchen. They were quick, efficient and discerning in their intentions. As one held up an item of clothing for closer inspection, the two friends quickly weighed in with a yea or nay. It’s good to have girlfriends along on recycled shopping outings and these ladies were professional shoppers.
 
Revolve, recycled fashion, Morro Bay, California

Recycled fashions at Revolve. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
“I love this store!” said one of the girls with delight. “I always find something that is perfect for me.” And, indeed, she was rocking the sporty black leather and wool cap that she had plucked from a display table minutes earlier.
 
I was thrilled that I scored a brown leather jacket for my brother, a gorgeous pair of snake skin cowboy boots for my college student son and plenty of name brand work clothing items for my recently graduated daughter. The boots I brought home for my husband were claimed and on his feet before they made it under the Christmas tree and I couldn’t resist wearing my hand knit scarf on a recent trip cruising along the Danube River in Europe. No worries – I will be reclaiming and wrapping these presents (with recycled paper) and stashing them until the holidays.
 
Treasures Antique Mall, antiques, Morro Bay, California

Treasures Antique Mall. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
There are plenty of things to see and do in Morro Bay besides antique and thrift store shopping. But when it Rome, right?

 
Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Morro Bay Tourism Bureau while researching this travel story.

Québec City: Things to Do

Friday November 14, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 1 Comment

Are you visiting Québec City for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Québec, Canada.
 

"Tourney Fountain", "Quebec", Canada

When you come to Quebec City, get your picture takes at Tourney Fountain. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is Place Royale, but I also take them to Ile d’Orléans – for a more local, authentic experience.
 

 
When I want to escape the crowds and tourists, my favorite place to visit is Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Dufferin Terrace for kissing with a view.

The best place to walk the dog is Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site.
 

"Panache" "Auberge Saint-Antoine", rabbit

Regional food of Quebec. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
"Café-boulangerie Paillard", baguettes

Café-boulangerie Paillard baguettes. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
"Marché du Vieux Port", Quebec, Canada

Marché du Vieux Port. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
Regional foods of Québec City

If you are looking for typical Québec cuisine, I recommend Toast! restaurant.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Café-boulangerie Paillard. They bake wonderful baguettes and have huge, flaky croissants.

Looking for the best inexpensive restaurants? Try Ashton or Buffet de l’Antiquaire. Also try Marché du Vieux Port on the Saint-André Quai, an indoor, year-round farmers’ market in Quebec City, Canada.

Ristorante Il Teatro is the spot for late night dining.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Le Saint-Amour, Chez Boulay or Panache at Auberge Saint-Antoine.
 

"St. John's Gate", Quebec, Canada

St. John’s Gate, Quebec City. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
Seeing a lot of bricks in Québec City? This Canadian city is best known for being a fortified  or walled city.

When you come to Québec City, get your picture taken by Fontaine Tourney and the Parliament building. Within walking distance is the Plains of Abraham.

In Québec City, outdoor lovers will want to walk, hike, bike, ski or snowshoe…it depends on the season. One of the best vantage points is taken by walking to the top of Montmorency Waterfalls. Insider Tip – these falls are higher than Niagara Falls, but not as wide.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along Dufferin Terrace, the walls of the city and if you’re fit, go up and down the many stairways that link Upper to Lower town.

After a day of adventure, Le Nordique Spa Stoneham is the best place to go for a spa treatment.

If you are a museum lover, Québec City’s  best museum is Musée de la civilisation.

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing at Chez Maurice or L’Emprise in the Clarendon Hotel for live music.

Québec Scope Magazine will keep you posted on what’s happening in Québec City.

Québec City by season

You can tell a lot about Québec City from watching the seasonal events. In the spring you should go to a Maple Sugar Shack.

In the summer you might like Québec City Summer Festival.

Did you know that Québec City is known for Fall foliage: plan a visit to the back country in the fall. My favorite regions are Lanaudiere and Mauricie – the Nordic baths are a must do and I loved my time horseback riding through fall colors in St. Paulin.
 

"Bonhomme", "Quebec", Canada

Meet Bonhomme at Carnaval de Québec. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
Come to Québec City for Carnaval de Québec!

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Ferry across the St. Lawrence river.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that just outside of Québec City you can visit Island of Orléans and have lunch at one of the many vineyards or cider-making orchards.

Have you traveled to Québec? What are your favorite things to do in Québec City, Canada?

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @tourismQuebec on Twitter.

If You Go:

Québec City

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Quebec Tourism. All opinions are my own.