The Village of Arroyo Grande: Vintage California
The morning I visited Arroyo Grande, I didn’t know what to do.
I moved and moved and moved but certain individuals kept following me.
This is going to sound strange. The individuals I am referring to were not human. Ok, I was being chased by roosters. I do not know how to explain it but they were after me.
While walking around, I stopped by to take pictures of the creek which bisects the village. Suddenly, I hear my husband saying: “Ruth, watch out!”
One of the roosters was getting really close to me. I moved to another spot but he changed course and kept moving towards me. Then, two more entered the scene and appeared to be interested in me too.
Yes, I ended (kind of) running away since those roosters were determined to jump over me (or something like that). I do not have to say that I was the joke of my husband for more than a month. He kept screaming “Rooster” out of the blue during our Central Coast road trip.
But, let’s forget for a moment about the individuals that were following me and let’s divert our conversation towards The Village of Arroyo Grande. Shall we?
Arroyo Grande is an incorporated city in the San Luis Obispo County and it is part of what is known as the Five Cities (with Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, Oceano and Shell Beach).
The area where the city stands today has a history dating back to the Chumash and the Portola Expedition.
The events that shaped the “modern” face of the area started when a man from New York, called Francis Ziba Branch, saw the land for the first time during a hunting expedition. His marriage to a lady called Maria Manuela Carlon entitled him to file a claim for a land grant (California was still part of Mexico during that time).
The family named they land Rancho Santa Manuela and establish a cattle ranching operation. They had success during the Mexican American War period. With time, they had financial difficulties and ended up selling their land.
Today, many of the structures built during the time of the Branch family survive. The heart of Arroyo Grande is known as Old Town or The Village. Of course, the principal road is called Branch Street.
.Arroyo Grande offers award-winning wines, family-friendly festivals, summertime concerts and a close proximity to open spaces great for hiking, biking, boating and camping.
Here are some ideas on what see and do in The Village.
The swinging bridge was originally constructed in 1875 by the Short family, whose land was divided by the Arroyo Grande Creek. The bridge spans a total length 171 feet and is suspended 40 feet above the creek. It’s owned and maintained by the City of Arroyo Grande and is the only one of its kind in California. The bridge was damaged by a falling tree in March 1995. With strong community support, it was completely restored two months after the incident.
Bridge Street Bridge
This historic bridge, dating from 1908, also crosses the Arroyo Grande Creek.
Heritage Square Park
Most of the historical buildings in town are located around this park. Many house museums which preserve artifacts from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Heritage House (garden and museum) was built in the late 1800’s. The museum has an interesting collection of period clothing, photographs and kitchen items
The Santa Manuela Schoolhouse was built in 1901 and is the last remaining one-room schoolhouse in San Luis Obispo County. The original location of the building is now under the waters of the Lopez Lake (was built before a dam was constructed in the area).
The Barn Museum houses a variety of antique vehicles and agricultural artifacts from the South County area. It also houses vintage printing presses and other interesting exhibits.
The IOOF Historic Hall was formerly the meeting place of the International Order of Odd Fellows (they base their thoughts and actions on healthy philosophical principles).
The Patricia Loomis Historical Library and Resource Center (located at Ruby’s House) focuses on providing materials for historical research and reenactments.
The Gazebo in the middle of the park is used for concerts, festivals and other activities.
Keep your eyes peeled while walking around the park. Try to spot Victorian houses and other historical structures.
Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab
Honestly, we cannot talk about Arroyo Grande without mentioning this place. I actually read about The Village for the first time when I spotted an ad featuring Doc Burnstein’s mad scientist holding pink ice cream. This old fashioned ice cream parlour serves delicious hand-crafted ice cream. Kids (and adults) love to see the model trains running around the parlor and over bridges, even through mountains and into the party room.
The business has extended to San Luis Obispo and Orcutt but this will always be an Arroyo Grande place.
As I mentioned, this is the main street in The Village. This is where you are going to find restaurants, cafes, specialty boutiques, specialty food stores and antiques.
I loved this street. There are a lot of creative businesses presenting beautiful concepts.
Murals around town recount the story of the area and pay homage to their agricultural roots.
Some businesses in the area are painted with original and cute designs.
What is a little town without funky and bizarre signs? Well, looks like the residents of Arroyo Grande have a good sense of humor.
Arroyo Grande Valley
Arroyo Grande has its own American Viticultural Area (16 miles long). The terrain is made of sedimentary and volcanic soil over a bedrock. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Rhône varietals are grown on the higher elevations. The cooler mid-valley vineyards are home to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties.
The following wineries can be visited: Laetitia, Phantom River and Talley.
- Arroyo Grande is situated halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- The Village is an ideal stop for any road trip along California’s Central Coast (is off the 101 Freeway).
- The place is very close to Pismo Beach and Avila Beach. It can be a nice alternative to the beach scene.
- For visitor information, go to the following page: http://www.agchamber.com/visitor-information/
- To learn more about the historical buildings and exhibits, visit this page: http://www.southcountyhistory.org/
Would you like to visit Arroyo Grande?
P.S. Here are some pictures of the rooster that chase me. I think they are kinda, sorta famous because they appear in almost every page related to Arroyo Grande.
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