Beachcombers, lazybones and picnickers should seek out Shell Beach, the nicest oceanfront property in SLOland, where the western bluff blocks a lot of the wind and keeps the sand warm. Because the entrance is hard to find, Shell is less crowded and touristy than nearby Avila and Pismo beaches. Stairs take you to the best section of beach, located just behind the Cliffs resort, which will generously provide free valet parking even if you don’t stay there. Tip well.
If you don’t favor the salt air, soak yourself silly in the mineralized waters of Sycamore Springs, which features 17 private outdoor tubs scattered on a forested hillside. Located about 10 minutes outside SLO proper, Sycamore is a wellness center that takes its Zen studies seriously. But if you just want to find your own bliss among the oaks and sycamores, that’s cool too. The tubs have names like Shangrila, Twilight, and Tubby. If you can, snag a soak in Paradise; it’s the highest on the hill and the most secluded.
The Cliffs Resort, 2757 Shell Beach Rd., Shell Beach; 805-773-5000.
Sycamore Mineral Springs, 1215 Avila Beach Dr., San Luis Obispo; 805-595-7302. Tubs are $15 per person, per hour. Reservations are recommended for an afternoon soak.