If you’re in search of a road trip destination that offers an escape from your daily routine and has serious “coastal grandmother” vibes, you will find it in the charming and iconic Highway 1 destination of Arroyo Grande. You might be asking yourself, “What is a coastal grandmother?” Let us break it down. (And no, you don’t need to be a literal grandmother to adopt this trendy vibe!) Search this key term on TikTok, and you’ll find a plethora of content from creators of all ages and genders showcasing a quaint, clean aesthetic that’s straight out of a Nancy Meyers rom-com. Think linens, fresh flowers, a crisp glass of white wine, farmers market finds and a good book.
“It’s (Not) Complicated”
The scenery along Highway 1 is breathtaking, with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and rolling hills on the other. Whether coming from San Francisco or Los Angeles, a winding stretch of highway (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) takes you through small towns and coastal communities, giving you a glimpse into the relaxed way of life that is so uniquely Californian. Arroyo Grande is conveniently located off Highway 101, near some of the Central Coast’s most beloved attractions and truly serves as the gateway to unforgettable adventures.
Distance to popular sites from Arroyo Grande:
- Hearst Castle: 44 miles
- Morro Rock: 29 miles
- Point San Luis Lighthouse: 12 miles
- Mission San Luis Obispo de Toloso: 8 miles
- Oceano Dunes: 5 miles
Peruse local farms and markets
Do as Martha Stewart would do. After grabbing a butter croissant at Mule Bakery, drive out to Halcyon Farms to u-pick seasonal flowers, fresh produce and fruits. For an authentic taste of local life, time your visit to coincide with the weekly Saturday farmers market at Olohan Alley. Depending on the season, discover honey, olive oil, artisan breads, gourmet mushrooms, strawberries, artichokes and more, while engaging with passionate farmers who embody the region’s agricultural heritage. Carry home a taste of Arroyo Grande’s coastal grandmother lifestyle into your own abode.
Shop classic styles, handmade crafts and home decor
Get the lay of the land by exploring streets lined with historic buildings, coffee shops, and local cafes. Perhaps peek into a local museum or two? Whatever you choose to do with your time, don’t miss a hands-on experience at Apothecary Refill Station. Learn the art of crafting candles, selecting fragrances, and creating your own unique scented candle. Uncover hidden gems at antique shops like Branch Street Antiques and A Glance into the Past Antiques, brimming with unique treasures and vintage furniture. Embrace a coastal grandmother look at boutiques like Lavender Blu, Neighbors General Store for home decor (think cookbooks, wooden spoons and stoneware) or Posie’s in the Village offering stylish classic clothing, accessories, shabby chic furniture and eclectic gifts.
Eat simple and fresh
Ember combines rustic charm with modern sophistication, an aesthetic the coastal grandmother is completely drawn to. The menu features an array of simple dishes hand-crafted on a wood fire. Start your meal with the mouth watering fried green tomato and white shrimp appetizer that would impress even the esteemed Ina Garten. For the main course, indulge in the succulent grilled half chicken, cooked to juicy perfection and accompanied by delectable sides.
Go clamming at the beach
Put on your bucket hat, grab a chunky cardigan inspired by the fashion of Diane Keaton’s character in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give,” and kickstart your day with an invigorating early morning clamming adventure at nearby Pismo Beach. Feel the crisp ocean air as you search for clams along the shoreline. You just might come across colorful seaglass too! (Tip: Familiarize yourself with local regulations beforehand.) After your beach excursion, make a stop at Virt Juice, to relish in a nourishing smoothie, juice, or acai bowl made from organic and local ingredients.
Relax with wine at a local winery
The coastal grandmother loves wine and thankfully, the Arroyo Grande Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) has exceptional wineries and vineyards. Rolling hills, verdant vineyards, and a mild coastal climate create the perfect conditions for grape cultivation. In this region, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes flourish, while Zinfandel and Syrah also contribute to its renowned viticultural diversity. Just a short drive from the town itself, find an abundance of tasting rooms and wineries to imbibe wine (or even bubbly) and picnic under the Tuscan…er…Arroyo Grande afternoon sun. Ensure a seamless experience by scheduling your wine tasting appointments in advance, especially if traveling as a group.
Surf n’ turf and cocktails
Let Mason Bar and Kitchen be the perfect finale to your stay. With its lively dinner party atmosphere, this Arroyo Grande establishment is ideal for dining with friends and family. In true coastal grandmother fashion, make your meal a surf n’ turf combo with clams and mussels, alongside perfectly cooked steaks. Pair your meal with one of the Buffalo Trace bourbon cocktails that the restaurant is known for and call it a night!
Explore Arroyo Grande’s welcoming hotel and lodging options, and book your next California road trip here in the heart of the Central Coast. Until then, happy planning and have a safe drive! And don’t forget to set the mood with a carefully curated “Coastal Grandmother” road trip playlist filled with nostalgic tunes that complement the scenic drive.