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Where is the best place to hike, bike or take a stroll in beautiful San Luis Obispo County? The well-known and well-traveled Bob Jones Trail is most certainly a contender. The Bob Jones Trail is paved and it takes you on a visually delightful journey, from the city of San Luis Obispo to the beautiful, pristine and lively city of Avila Beach.

This spectacular, one-of-a-kind trail, is a winding, beautiful five-mile round trip, that is smooth, mostly flat and has very little incline. It's perfect for an intermittently shaded, carefree walk with a stroller or an ideal place to take a run or lace up your skates. This location is ideal for people of all ages who want to see nature and breathe the fresh ocean air, while getting some exercise.

The Avila Beach Bird Sanctuary can be experienced while enjoying a day on the trail. In 2013, Avila Beach became a designated bird sanctuary where snowy egrets, great blue herons, red throated and Pacific geese, grebes, gulls and surf scooters are just a sampling of the birds that are often spotted.

Personal experience has given me insight that needs to be shared — don’t get too close to the mama ducks or geese or you might get goosed.

If you get hungry, there is a casual restaurant on the trail, Woodstone Marketplace in Avila Village offers good food, drinks, delicatessen and bakery items. They offer indoor and outdoor patio seating that overlooks the trail. It also has nice gifts and an excellent wine selection.

While meandering down the constantly scenic Bob Jones Trail, you will pass deep green landscape. Did you know that there are 19 species of Oak native to California? Ten of them grow as trees and nine grow as shrubs. Coast live oak trees are enormous and can be seen along the trail. One in particular is estimated to be between 300 and 600 years old. If you are into plants, you’ll discover some interesting varieties like the African castor bean plant. The seeds from this plant are poisonous to people, animals and insects. The castor beans are pressed to extract castor oil and it is valuable for medicinal purposes.

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A visit here is a colorful experience in more ways than one. The San Luis Obispo Creek is deep blue and a favorite place to paddle board. Glistening streams and gardens run from the city to the sea. Expect to see the Avila Golf Course, a long and visually inviting bridge that takes you over the water, which is full of fish, wildlife and beautiful birds. I have personally seen dog walkers, with up to a dozen dogs at a time, sharing the wide trail with everything from golf carts to tricycles.

After your jog, walk, hike or bike ride, head to the beachfront shops to find gifts to take home, a new bikini or check out one of many wine tasting rooms. There are a couple of excellent coffee shops and a children's playground. Book a stay in one of the unique hotels that are available in Avila Beach ranging from small, intimate, boutique locations to oceanfront suites. The beach is beautiful, the restaurants are plentiful and the people are friendly.

Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys2TheCoast.com. Keys 2 The Coast is a travel resource for Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, offering recommendations on “local choices” for the best places to wine, dine and explore. Visit keys2thecoast.com or Keys2TheCoast on Facebook.

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