I took advantage of our amazing January weather to do a quick overnight on California's Central Coast, specifically at Shell Beach. Great trip in an airplane: instead of a boring four hour drive I had a beautiful 75 minute flight down the coast in to San Luis Obispo. Spyglass Inn, an unremarkable but pleasant beachfront motel with a nice view. It's inexpensive and conveniently next to the Dolphin Bay Resort. I would have felt ripped off if I'd paid the $400 to stay at the resort but being next door I had the same view and could walk over to Lido for some of the finest dining on the coast. Nice dinner: abalone from Cayucos, also dungeness crab. Also good breakfast the next morning nearby at Zorro's.
There's not a whole lot to do on this part of the coast. Off-roading on the beaches and sand dunes down at Oceano. Enjoying the views from the cliffs. Butterflies in Pismo Beach (in winter). The beach itself, although Shell Beach is too tiny for that; you want Pismo Beach or Avila Beach for a big expanse of sand. Mostly it's just beautiful. Pismo Beach is also near to San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, two nice towns inland in low valleys. There's good wineries in the area, particularly around Paso Robles. It's hot in the summer but on a sunny winter day it's terrific. Basically the Central Coast is a really nice, mellow part of California. I like it every time I go.
The whole coastline from Avila Beach to Oceano is one big stretch of tiny beachfront communities. Pismo Beach is the center and the biggest town, with the most bars and cafes and the most sand. Next time I visit I might stay at the Kon Tiki Inn or maybe the Avila Lighthouse Suites for something more remote.