Roosters, history, museums, ice cream, pizza, wine, beer, ghosts, farms, theater, festivals, and the gateway to adventure, all of this and more is awaiting the visitor to Arroyo Grande known as the Village to locals.
Downtown in the village with shops, pizza and ice cream
Some places are successful in retaining that old-time flavor of days gone by and still offer modern-day amenities and fun. Arroyo Grande is one of those towns. Arroyo Grande is land-bound but not far from the Pacific Ocean and sand dunes and surfing.
This charming village greets visitors with one of a kind shops like Apropos located on East Branch Street that carries designs by Jag Jeans, Johnny Was, Cut Loose, Le Vie Parisienne Jewelry and an assortment of gifts.
Hungry after shopping, stop in for a little piece of Alaska at Klondike Pizza. The dirt floor is covered in discarded peanut shells and the kids will have fun playing a variety of video games. Specialty pizzas, some sprinkled with reindeer sausage and smothered in the “Buffalo Style” secret sauce, are on the menu. Beware, locals say the place is haunted.
Save room for dessert and make your way to Doc Bernstein’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor and choose from has a huge variety of flavors and some specialties like Merlot Raspberry Truffle made with local red wine. You can even create your own ice cream flavor that could be added to the menu. You’ll enjoy watching the old steam engine model train chugging around overhead.
History, Museums, Roosters, a Bandstand, a Swinging Bridge, and Summer Concerts
As you walk around town be sure to experience crossing the Swinging Bridge. It is the only one of its kind in California. The bridge is 171 feet long and swings 40 feet above the stream. Originally the bridge had no sides, but they were added in 1902. The bridge was donated to the city in 1911, destroyed by a storm in 1995, but since reconstructed.
You can visit five historic buildings dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s on a short walk around Heritage Park where the Rotary Bandstand and Gazebo is located. Summer concerts in the park offer live bands, dance troupes and other performers. Celebrate Independence Day at the July 4th Concert. Picnic facilities are available and all you need is your lawn chair.
Farmer’s Market occurs every week in Centennial Park. This park is also where a troupe of free-ranging roosters strut around.
Visit the Farm
Just outside town Windmill Farms on North Thompson Avenue is a great place to take the kids, Visit the Critter Corral and feed the sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, turkeys, geese, and miniature horse. In the barn you will find gourmet foods, gifts, pottery, garden art, succulents and more.
Adventure Awaits at the Lake and Vista Lago Adventure Park
Just a short drive east brings you to Lopez Lake where there is camping, boating, water-skiing, fishing, swimming, and hiking. This is a great place to go bird watching or get wet and slip and slide at Mustang Waterslides.
You can exercise your skills in outdoor adventure at Vista Lago Adventure Park. Start with a trip on one of three zip lines totaling 1,800 feet in length. Two lines are geared for a fast trip. Next tackle the multiple rope courses. Constructed on free standing poles, the Upper Park has four courses for beginner, intermediate, experienced, and advanced with 40-plus elements including the Talley Wine Barrel Bridge to The Ledge where you can free fall for 45 feet! Chipmunk Park is for the kids and has 10 elements for children ages five to eight.
Wine and Beer
End your adventure and enjoy a sip of beer at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, or wine at Verdad & Lindquist Family Wine Tasting Room or Timbre Winery Tasting room.
Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
Visitors on Memorial Day Weekend can enjoy the popular Strawberry Festival, one of California’s largest festivals. This family-style event offers everything you can think made with strawberries grown on local area farms.
This two-day event is held on the last weekend in September and features the Hometown Parade on Friday, entertainment, arts and crafts, Rotary Fish Fry, contests, displays and a free Friday Night Movie.
Craft beers are the newest venture occurring in the Village and a taste is available at tasting rooms and at the October Beer Festival featuring dozens of local breweries will. Enjoy bites from area restaurants that complement the brews. This is one of the most popular gatherings in the County.
–By Ruth Ann Angus