The best experiences often come from seeing the world as more than an itinerary. To that end, we're starting a new series to connect with communities old and new. Each month, we'll ask various creatives near and far to give us the local scoop on the best places to eat, adventure, and imbibe in their city.
Given that we're experiencing an extra rainy month in our home state of Oregon, we asked a longtime Schoolhouse friend and the creative behind the newly opened Neighbors General Store (congrats!) to kick off the series on the sunny Central Coast of California. Below, Alex Creswell gives us a glimpse into her passion project and takes us around her Arroyo Grande home.
Arrive in Arroyo Grande, California and you’ll find a calm, creative atmosphere in which to wander. The perfect mix of old and new, mom-and-pop storefronts line the quaint streets alongside modern design marvels.
Neighbors General Store
Neighbors has been a dream of mine for a long time, but the timing never felt quite right – until October 2022! This online shop turned brick and mortar has been so much fun! My dad and grandfather built the fixtures + furniture and having them be a part of the process has been the cherry on top.
"I carry thoughtfully made homewares and small batch pantry items that center around gathering and hosting."
A Satellite of Love
I’m convinced Malik is one of the coolest and nicest people on the Central Coast. He’s carved out such an inspiring space. Highly curated vintage and new records, books, clothes, handmade pottery, and more fill his shop.
"Check out their events calendar before you go. Malik, the owner often hosts intimate shows with local bands. He’s doing so much for the creative community, and I am a big fan!"
The Green Vase
Just the cutest little antique store in the cutest little old house! They source beautiful vintage items and it’s impossible to leave empty handed. It’s one of my favorite shops to visit when I need a little inspiration.
"I found some of my favorite pieces here. You never know what one-of-a-kind find you'll take home. Even if you're just visiting, they have some lovely vintage art and home goods."
Eat + Drink
From quick bites to farm to table dining, here are some local spots that are sure to deliver and leave you feeling nourished and super satisfied.
Owner Amanecer is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet! She created a mindful, welcoming, and delicious place that is well worth the drive and the wait. It’s always impossible to order because everything is so dang tasty – and allergy friendly.
"They specialize in 100% organic and gluten free blue corn waffles, tacos and superfood smoothies. The Cayucos location is right on the beach – you can’t beat the view. The staff is always kind, and the space is so welcoming."
Mule Bakery and my shop Neighbors are right next to each other. Mule is owned by brother sister dynamic duo, Chandler and Amanda. They make fresh pastries every day and they are some of the best you can get! There's almost always a line — so stop by early!
"Nothing beats a slow morning sitting in the sunshine, eating a fresh scone with a cup of coffee from Mule."
Whether you're looking for a cozy cottage or a dreamy casita, these are my top picks for a quick weekend getaway.
Granada Hotel + Bistro
Located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, this historic 1922 building has been reimagined into a boutique hotel and bistro. The rooms are elevated and cozy, the food is beautiful and so tasty, and the cocktails are some of the best around. It’s a great place to stay for the weekend or to pop in for a fun dinner date.
"The food is beautiful and tasty, and the cocktails are some of the best around. Stop by Monday-Friday from 3-5pm for Apertif Hour."
The Olive House
If you’re in the area and want to wine taste, this spot is the perfect place to stay. The Olive House is nestled in a hillside with 360-degree views of rolling valleys, olive trees, and grape vines. It is designed for comfort and relaxation, with fireplaces, private terraces for morning coffee, and a beautiful courtyard. It is near dozens of vineyards, wineries, walking trails, and the charming town of Paso Robles.
"One of my favorite places to stay when I'm going wine tasting or looking for an adventure without having to wander too far off the beaten path."
When wandering, I often abide by the John Muir quote "Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
Baileyana Wines + Lincoln Deli
A match made in heaven! Baileyana Wines is located inside an old Schoolhouse just outside of San Luis Obispo in Edna Valley. The views are some of the best and the atmosphere is fun and relaxing. Lincoln Deli has been around since 1941. They specialize in California style sandwiches, fine beverages, specialty groceries and curated gifts.
"One of our favorite things to do is pick up lunch from Lincoln Deli and head over to the winery. There’s a big lawn and bocce ball courts — a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon."
We’ve got options! Aside from the usual sandy beach fun, some of my favorite things are seeing the tide pools in Pismo Beach at low tide, watching the otters at Morro Bay, and eating oysters on the pier at Port San Luis.
"Head over in the late afternoon for some fun and stay for the sunset. The sunsets are unlike anything else!"
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Photography by Alex Creswell