Cayucos is the Californian beach town of your winter dreams

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Stipulated: The ideal travel time for a three-day weekend is four hours. More, and you ruin your vacation. Less, and you are always close to home. Hence our series, The Four Hour Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, but still close to home.

Cayucos is the perfect winter destination near you, especially if you don’t like snow – it’s only a few hours away, but it’s often 15 degrees warmer than North Beach. Mendocino? We love it, but we love the January sun more.

Examples of forecasts for this Friday: Mendocino, 58 and fog. Cayucos, 73 and sunny. We know where we are going.

(On the beach B&B)

On the beach

WHERE TO STAY

You can find plenty of places to spend more along this part of the Pacific coast, but one of Cayucos’ many blessings is a relaxed (read: not sky-high) accommodation scene. You will find everything you want at B&B On the Beach, with antique furniture, Jacuzzis, private balconies and a breakfast so solid it’s featured in a collection of recipes, Best breakfast on the beach, by chef, Maureen Handshy.

WHERE TO EXIT

A myriad of Top 10 sunsets photos were taken at Estero Bluffs State Park; if you’ve ever been the type of person who enjoys long walks on the beach, here’s your chance to prove it, with four miles of trails along the cliffs. Most exciting of all: in December and January you can spot gray whales heading south; they will make the return trip in March and April. You can also see dolphins, sea lions and other aquatic animals, a claim this drone footage shot near the cliffs should prove. If you’re looking to get a little closer, sign up for a lesson or tour (private or group) with the local kayak outfitter.

(Facebook / Ruddell’s Smokehouse)

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK

Jim Ruddell has dedicated part of his life to smoking food better than anyone else – taste the fruits of his upbringing at Smoker Jim’s, famous for its smoked albacore tacos. Keep an eye out for The Grill at Cass House for the return of its Community Nights pop-up dinners – you might get lucky. Alternatively, continue the relaxed outdoor vibe at Duckie’s, with classic and fantastic seafood (like New England chowder served with bacon and croutons) and a view of the bay.


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