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Avila Valley Barn
Farmer’s Markets are usually temporary, but not in Avila Beach, a small hamlet connected to San Luis Obispo. There, an attraction named the Avila Valley Barn combines fresh produce, baked goods, and other comestibles with farm animals, snacks, desserts, music, and a country atmosphere comfortable for a family but also fun for adults on their own. Whether one is making a quick stop off the 101 freeway or spending a few hours exploring, this is a business worth visiting.
The Avila Valley Barn is located right off Highway 101, just north of Pismo Beach, at 560 Avila Beach Drive. It is usually crowded on weekends, and parking can be a problem; the lot is capacious, but the traffic can make getting in and out frustrating. Once parked, however, the fun begins with the visitor passing through the livestock area on the way to the barn itself. Goats, pigs, sheep, alpacas, and chickens reside in pens, and visitors can feed, pet, and photograph them. Watching children, whether one’s own or not, is entertaining, and the animals are generally friendly. On Fridays, pony rides are available in the afternoon as well.
Inside the barn is a shopper’s haven, with freshly picked produce, juice and cider, and baked goods in the front areas. There are four rooms off the produce section which specialize in country-themed comestibles such as cake mixes, gourmet popcorn, jams, jellies, seasoning blends, and other comestibles. While the prices are somewhat higher than in local supermarkets, the unusual choices and the atmosphere make the barn a fun place to shop for a home-cooked dinner.
Outside the barn, the fun continues. Visitors can buy roasted corn, slather on toppings, and enjoy it sitting on a hay bale watching the afternoon pass by. Cold drinks and dessert items such as fudge and ice cream are also available; the sweets are sold in a separate area which often has a very long line. Musicians or bands often play on the grounds, and there is plenty of room to wander and enjoy the balmy Central Coast weather.
Photographers will enjoy the opportunity to take pictures of seasonal produce, hay bales, and of course farm animals and children. Beyond the barn itself, there are opportunities for hay rides and “u-pick” fruit collecting. Those interested in picking their own fruit should call ahead to find out what fruit is in season, as weather conditions can affect availability. Large parties can also rent tables behind the barn for gatherings of two and a half hours, with optional catering available.
The Avila Valley Barn is open seven days a week. The barn itself opens at nine, but other areas open at different times. The entire attraction closes at six pm.
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