Population 18 - Harmony, California

Population 18 - Harmony, California
The road to Harmony appears seemingly out of nowhere as you cruise Highway 1, just south of the intersection with Highway 46 West. This part of northern San Luis Obispo County is replete with quirky small towns, such as Cambria to the north and Paso Robles to the east, but Harmony stands on its own as more than another roadside attraction -- it's a view into small-town California history. First built in 1906, the town is now settled by just 18 individuals, who live and work as artisans. What will you find on your visit?

After you turn east from Highway 1,” you’ll see what at first appears to be a few odd buildings and a great deal of pasture. There’s a parking lot to the driver’s right, as well as a road stretching up a small hill. If you choose the road, you’ll arrive at Harmony Cellars, where you can buy picnic food, taste wine, and while away the afternoon at one of the tables outside the tasting area. The wine choices will compete with the views – these are quality vintages that will have you shelling out serious money.

Back down in Harmony proper, you’ll find a chapel that seats forty, perfect for weddings and other events. As of April, 2021, packages start with “ceremony only” for $2500 and continue all the way up to ‘rent the town’ for $12,500. You can also stay overnight or longer; a 1906 two-bedroom, one bath cottage, complete with yard, garden, and pot-bellied stove, is available for rental. What would it be like to spend an entire weekend here?

You certainly wouldn't go hungry, for one thing, eating lots of ice cream in addition to the picnic supplies from up the hill. The eponymously named Creamery sits adjacent to the wedding chapel, offering small-batch mixes in a variety of flavors. If this is your primary reason for visiting (and yes, the ice cream here is worth the drive), check the hours in advance, as they chance seasonally. Take your treat to one of a few outside tables and enjoy the fresh air and quirky landscaping.

You’ll also spend at least some time checking out the two other businesses that have kept the town alive over the years. Harmony Glassworks offers a glassblowing studio and sells its sundry creations. Depending on the day of your visit, you may find jewelry (pendants for necklaces and earrings seem to predominate), a perfect sculpture for your end table, or a beautiful set of wind chimes. Watching the artisans work might be part of the experience if one of the resident artists is available. Unfortunately, classes are suspended during the pandemic; if you’re interested, check the web site as restrictions lift.

Got your fill of glass? It’s time to check out clay! At the Pottery Works across the ‘street;, you’ll find ceramic tiles, bowls, plates, and the like. In addition, there’s usually a small collection of jewelry that varies from visit to visit, as well as locally handmade soap- on a personal note, I’ve been purchasing the latter for years.

No matter what you decide to do during your visit to Harmony, be sure to take a few minutes to simply stop. Yes, halt. Breathe in the scent of native plants; feel the Central Coast wind and weather on your skin. People-watch and notice what others are doing and seeing. Let time slow down. You’ll definitely learn why the town is called Harmony.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with the town of Harmony. I have purchased wine, jewelry, and soap there from my own funds.

For further information:
Harmony Wedding Chapel – https://www.harmonychapelca.com/
Harmony Cellars –https://harmonycellars.com/
Harmony Glassworks - https://www.harmonyglassworks.com/

You Should Also Read:
San Luis Obispo Wine Tasting
A Beach Weekend in Cayucos

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This content was written by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. . If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. for details.