Our family is pretty spread out across California from San Diego to Sunnyvale so we don’t get together very often. We try to see each other at least a couple of times a year but this year I wanted to do something special. Irene and I looked at renting a house so that the whole family could spend time together. We have been spending a lot of time up in the Central Coast area and so Avila Beach was definitely in the front of our minds When we found Casa Contenta on VBRO.com we knew we found the right place. The home is a beautifully designed and furnished 3 bedroom Spanish Hacienda with a 2 bedroom guest house and a loft over the garage. This was the perfect place!
The plan was to stay from Wednesday to Sunday and have plenty of downtime to relax or pursue whatever adventure they wanted to indulge in. The area has plenty of activites from kayaking, biking, surfing, ATV’s, golf and of course, our favorite… eating! So the whole gang was able to make it and they all showed up on Wednesday afternoon. After a great dinner cooked on the grill on the patio, we planned for an excursion out to Solvang the next day. Breakfast at Paula’s Pancakes was on the agenda and we couldn’t wait to see my little nephew stuff his face with Danish pancakes. This place always has a line out the door and is very popular on weekends but it is a absolute must do when visiting the area.
Solvang was founded in 1911 by a group of Danish settlers and now is home to a number of Danish bakeries, restaurants and stores. The architecture reflects traditional Danish styles and there is even a copy of the Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen and the Round Tower or Rundetarn in the town center. We wandered through the streets after breakfast, hunting and gathering like our family does best. We found some stuffed olives, tapenade and smoked gouda to bring back to the house and we had to stop to try an abelskiver! Although we’ve stopped here in Solvang a few times, this was the first time to try one of these Danish treats. Fluffy and similar to a doughnut hole with bright red strawberry jam, they would go great with a good cup of coffee. Despite the name, they are not apple flavored as I thought and subsequently was disappointed… some warm apples in the center would have been perfect!
Later that afternoon, we decided to drop by the Kelsey See Winery to pick up my wine club shipment and visit the tasting room. This small family owned winery is located in See Canyon which was right next door to Casa Contenta. I fell in love with this place a few years ago while visiting the area and even considered buying property nearby. As always this friendly tasting room did not disappoint and I bought a couple of extra bottles to share. The grounds here are beautiful and inviting, combine this with great wine and couple of really fluffy dogs and peacocks running around the property and it makes for a relaxing afternoon.
That evening we went down to the Harford Pier which is the commercial fishing pier in Avila. Built in 1873 for shipping purposes and to serve as Port San Luis before the train lines were built. It is one of my favorite places to visit in the area and although most tourists probably go to the Avila Beach Pier on the other side of the bay, I like to walk down this one! Sea lions are found most of the year, basking under the deck and many times you will hear their barking and grunts while you walk. The restaurant at the end, Olde Port Inn, is a nice place to grab some fresh seafood and a drink while enjoying the sunset. While we are mentioning places to eat, Fat Cats Cafe in the parking lot of the pier is a nice spot to grab a late breakfast.
Another of our favorite stops is the Avila Valley Barn located right off the freeway. This place used to be open only seasonally but has recently started staying open all year round. Stocking up on the seasonal fruit and vegetables at the open air farmer’s market or stopping by for an ice cream is something that we rarely pass up. Behind the market is a small petting zoo where you can feed, see and espeically smell some animals. The baby goats are always entertaining and watching little kids excitedly feeding the animals always elicits a smile or laugh from us. Unfortunately for us, my nephew wasn’t feeling well and had to end his trip early so we didn’t get to see him interact with any of the animals. That didn’t stop us from visiting them but the fun was diminished some.
Saturday night was the big event at Casa Contenta! My niece offered to prepare a turkey dinner and wow did she deliver! Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mac and cheese, green bean cassarole… and the yams… my god, the yams… I don’t even like yams but these were delicious! This girl can COOK, she most definitely is part of this family!
After the awesome dinner and packing what will be the best leftovers EVER! We packed up to head back home. We said goodbye to each other and to the wonderful home wistfully thinking about the next time we can get together. Whenever our family gets together it is a true adventure, so until next time! Much love and happy thoughts!
To see more pictures from this trip, click here!