History of Avila Beach

History of Avila Beach

Tucked away in a beautiful valley with the ocean at its knocking at its front door and rolling hills at its back, Avila Beach is the perfect setting for families and/or couples wishing to get away from the busy world. This serene utopia can be accessed by road or trail, both of which follow a meandering stream.

Sharing much of its history with the surrounding area in the southern San Luis Obispo County, Avila Beach was occupied by Chumash Indians for centuries. Spanish explorers entered the territory in 1542 but exploration did not take place for over 200 years, and actually began in the vicinity of Arroyo Grande. In 1848, California became a territory of the United States and San Luis Obispo County became one of California’s original 27 counties.  Rapid population growth occurred in Avila Beach in the late 1800’s due to the overland transport options available through the Southern Pacific Railroad line. In 1873 the Harford Wharf was constructed for trade and mail delivery. In 1876 the Marre Hotel was built in Port San Luis.

It wasn’t always as scenic as it appears, for nearly 100 years, Unocal 76 petroleum pumped diesel and crude oil from a local tank farm on the bluffs. After years of use and little to no upkeep, the pipelines began to leak and seep into the ground underneath the local business and beach population. After realization of the catastrophe they had created. The State ordered Unocal to pay $200 million to be dedicated to clean up and reparations. To this day, it is still considered on of the biggest environmental disasters in California history. In the late 90’s the cleanup was undertaken and finished in late 2001, creating a majority of what we know as Avila Beach today.

Currently, Avila Beach is home to a little more than 1,500 total residents and is much more of a vacation town than ever before! With plenty of high-end hotels and delicious restaurants, Avila is the perfect destination for your next getaway. While Alapay Cellars has had a presence of wine tasting in Avila Beach since 2002, recently there has been a resurgence of a handful of other boutique wineries.

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