Best of SLO County 2017: Fly the Coop: Get Out

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY 

Cambria Pines Lodge

2905 Burton Drive, Cambria

If you’re looking to get out of Dodge for a couple of days without getting—well—too far out of Dodge, readers say the Cambria Pines Lodge is the place you want. Becky Evans, director of sales and marketing at the lodge, said Cambria Pines makes a great home base for all there is to do in Cambria, from antiquing to hiking and wine tasting to a Hearst Castle visit. On top of that, she said the hotel’s restaurant and lounge hosts nightly entertainment, which sets the lodge apart. “Guests who stay with us one time almost always want to come back,” Evans said.

—Brenna

Runner-up: Madonna Inn

BEST PLACE TO GET SWIMWEAR

SLO Swim

795 Higuera St., SLO

It’s almost time to prepare for endless summer days (and swimsuit season). Looking for something strappy? Maybe a retro-inspired one piece? Or maybe just something new to lounge in by the poolside? Head over to SLO Swim to peruse their vast collection of swimsuits and bikinis. “We really appreciate our customers and the support they’ve given for almost 30 years,” owner Shelley Filip said. SLO Swim has the largest collection of women’s swimwear on the Central Coast.

—Kristine

Runner-up: Moondoggies

BEST BOARD SHOP

Moondoggies

SLO, Pismo Beach

If there’s one thing surfers love—besides, well, surfing—it’s showing pride in their coastal lifestyle, and what better way to do that than shopping local for all your surfing needs and beach swag? With locations in both SLO and Pismo, Moondoggies sells not only surfboards, but also T-shirts, hats, keychains, and so much more. It’s the perfect way to let people know that you love the Central Coast as much as you love riding its waves. “We are proud to have been a part of the community for over 30 years,” owner Randy Adler said. “It’s an honor to receive this reward.”

—Katrina

Runner-up: Central Coast Surfboards

BEST WATER SPORTS COMPANY 

Avila Beach Paddlesports

3915 Avila Beach Drive, Avila Beach

If you ever build up the courage to go out and explore the big blue, then Avila Beach Paddlesports is the place to go for your first ocean adventure. Central Coast locals Vincent and Emily Shay founded their company in 2009. They pride themselves on making sure everyone knows they can have a fun and safe experience on the water. “We really couldn’t do what we do with out our amazing staff. We are like a family, and want to make sure everyone feels welcome,” Emily said. They offer rentals, tours, and lessons for everyone. So get outside and start exploring!

—Rachelle

Runner-up: Central Coast Kayak

 

BEST GOLF COURSE

Avila Beach Golf Resort

6464 Ana Bay Road, Avila Beach

Hitting a putt with the ocean breeze against your face is the best way to end the workweek. Covered with fields of green and a par 71, the Avila Beach Golf Resort is the perfect way to unwind and practice your hole-in-one. Kikuyu grass fairways extend 6,500 yards between San Luis Obispo Creek and the Pacific Ocean. The back nine traverses a tidal estuary while the front nine sits on hilly terrain with oak-lined valleys. The challenging course also has beautifully crafted facilities and a neighborhood bar that serves sandwiches and tasty bites to enjoy.

—Karen

Runner-up: Morro Bay Golf Course 

 

BEST HIKE

Bishop Peak

SLO

At a whopping 1,559 feet, Bishop Peak is a moderate hike for all lovers of nature who want the perfect view of the city of SLO. It can be accessed from either Patricia Drive or Highland Drive and has an easy-to-follow trail with a small section of rock climbing. It’s definitely on everyone’s bucket list and with about three hours of free time, the hike can easily be accomplished. If you wake up early enough to catch the sunrise, you might just perch yourself above the Central Coast’s wispy clouds.

—Karen

Runner-up: Madonna Mountain 

 

BEST BIKE SHOP

Flander’s Bicycle 

1951 Santa Barbara Ave., SLO 

As the smallest bike shop in the county, Flander’s Bicycle owner Shawn Hafley said he and his then co-founder opened the shop in 2011 with nothing but community support. “We’re just a funky little shop that wanted to make our original idea a reality, which was to help people out and support our local cycling community,” Hafley said. Flander’s employees go above and beyond to pick up and deliver the bikes that they work on throughout the county. “We’ll work on everything and anything that’s brought to us from bikes to wheelchairs,” he said.

—Karen

Runner-up: Art’s Cyclery

BEST BIKE TRAIL

Bob Jones

Ontario Road to Avila Beach

The Bob Jones trail extends from the city to the sea in Avila Beach, starting at the parking lot near Ontario Road off Highway 101 and ending downtown on the corner of Avila Beach Drive and 1st Street. The 3-mile trail makes for a beautiful spot to ride your bike, run, walk, or skate, leading past lush grass, meadows, and the meandering San Luis Obispo Creek. Break a sweat with an after-work run down the trail, kill a few hours on a sunny afternoon there, or get the family out for a group bike ride. On the Bob Jones, you can’t go wrong.

—Brenna

Runner-up: Johnson Ranch

 

BEST OUTDOOR STORE

The Mountain Air

667 Marsh St., SLO

When competing with the big-box outdoor stores, The Mountain Air owner Wayne Patterson believes it’s his knowledgeable and competent sales staff that gives them the edge in the end. “My staff is all really trained, and they’re all actually out there in the wilderness,” he said. “They walk the walk.” That expertise is critical to having any credibility in SLO County and its dedicated outdoors community. The Mountain Air offers customers a wide variety of clothes, climbing and camping equipment, and accessories, and even does ski rentals and repairs. “We try to carry the products that are unique and innovative,” Patterson said.

—Peter

Runner-up: Big 5

 

BEST NURSERY/ GARDEN STORE

Miner’s Ace Hardware

Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, SLO, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Atascadero

Is your garden looking a bit sad? Head to Miner’s for the best in nursery products and services. They offer terrific customer service and advice, several varieties of plants, veggies, herbs, and succulents, plus fountains and garden art, hoses and fertilizers. “We order from several local vendors because plants stress when traveling long distances,” said Marketing Director Laurel Cadena. “We hand pick vendors for the best quality.” Miner’s also carries Yeti, top-of-the-line coolers, plus great patio furnishings and decor. They have barbecues galore and Traeger Smokers for diehard enthusiasts. Miner’s will help you go from a garden mess-up to a master gardener!

—Ariel

Runner-up: Ron’s Nursery

 

BEST TACK SHOP

Farm Supply Company

Arroyo Grande, SLO, Paso Robles

This farmer-owned co-operative is celebrating its 67th year. “We are owned by 2,600 local farmers and ranchers,” said CEO-Elect Cara Crye, who has been with the company for more than 20 years. Tack is anything you put on your horse, including saddles, bridles, and anything for their maintenance. They also carry a line of horse feed and supplies from horseshoes to shampoos. “Our community has kept us going,” Crye said. “We have great members, customers, and employees and take great pride in our relationship and ability to serve their needs,” she added. Their great service and products mean you will never leave with a long face!

—Ariel

Runner-up: Riding Warehouse 

 

BEST PET SITTER OR BOARDING

Thousand Hills Pet Resort

173 Buckley Road, SLO

Thousand Hills calls its day care and pet boarding facility, “The Resort,” and you really can’t argue with them. They’ve got suites, mini-suites, cat condos, and even cottages. The nonprofit has ample land off Buckley Road to work with, and they use it wisely by providing first-class facilities and amenities, a variety of services including pet training, and an expert staff. “We socialize our dogs every day based on size and temperament,” manager Alex Davis said. “Our staff goes above and beyond.” Another cool fact: Thousand Hills offers great work experience to Cal Poly students pursuing careers with animals.

—Peter

Runner-up: Stenner Creek Animal Hospital

 

BEST CHILD CARE

Robin’s Rugrats

Shell Beach 

“Oh I was a rugrat!” Robin’s Rugrats owner Robin Reed said. And that’s what she loves to hear about kids who have gone through her day care. “I’ve had over 170 babies because that’s what these children are to me,” Reed said. “With this job you’re inviting them into your life for life, so that’s why we say they’re a rugrat for life.” She said her child care service is different from the rest because she does it from a home setting with a large number of teachers who help each child grow and learn.

—Karen

Runner-up: Cal Poly ASI Children’s Center

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