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Classic beach town ... Cayucos.

Classic beach town . . . Cayucos

A vanishing species, the funky Californiabeach town still lives on in Cayucos. Located on the central California coast, it has small houses dusted with sand, a beach often empty except for a surf fisherman or two, and coffee shops named after Bill and Carol and Flo. The town draws crowds only for the Fourth of July and an October swap meet. The rest of the year, it's pretty quiet.

Some 22 miles southeast of San Simeon'sHearst Castle, Cayucos' moderately priced motels are convenient overnight stops. But don't rush through: spend a relaxing day walking the pier and beach and browsing in the antique stores.

From State Highway 1, take the OceanAvenue exit; Ocean is the main street. You'll see about 10 inexpensive motels with names like Sea Esta and Sea Vue and Sea Gull. The chamber of commerce can give you a complete list; call (805) 995-1200.

A 900-foot pier, mountains of abalone

Cayucos--the word may be Chumash forfishing boat or canoe--was founded in 1867, when James Cass arrived from New England via San Francisco. Hoping to create a port, he built a 900-foot pier and warehouses. His home now stands empty, as weathered as driftwood, on a prime bit of real estate catty-corner from the pier. In the late 1800s, Italian-Swiss families settled to dairy-farm; stores with flat wood fronts and tiny cottages from that era remain along Ocean Avenue.

Cayucos was once known for abalone; inthe cafe at the pier's foot, photographs from the '30s show huge piles of shells. But overfishing killed the industry, and the town slipped into anonymity.

Strolling the pier, finding antiques

Captain Cass's pier has long since beenreplaced with one a more modest 400 feet long-still enough to get fishermen well beyond the surf zone. You can rent tackle ($3 half-day, $5 all day) at Bill's Sporting Goods, open 9 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays at the pier's foot.

Edged by a low bluff, Cayucos StateBeach stretches 1 1/2 miles, with stairs giving public access from Pacific Avenue (parallel to Ocean) every block or so.

The town has several antique shops, withthe owners often living in spruced-up quarters behind their stores. At American Pie (890 S. Ocean; open 11 to 4 Wednesdays through Sundays), the back window overlooks a lush garden. Cayucos Trading Post (78 N. Ocean; open 10 to 5 Wednesdays through Mondays, except 11 to 5 Sundays) has two rooms full of goodquality late-Victorian furniture. Inside any one of the stores, you can pick up a brochure listing others.

Where to get a bite or a meal

While new "old' diners are popping up inother towns, Cayucos has the real thing. At Bill and Carol's Sea Shanty (296 S. Ocean; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), the ceiling is covered with baseball-type caps with slogans like "American Refuse: Your Trash is Our Cash.' At Flo's (171 N. Ocean; open daily for breakfast and lunch), regulars earn mugs painted with their names.

Pimpernel's (48 S. Ocean; open 9 to 5Wednesdays through Sundays) serves homemade pastries. Across the street, two ex-New Yorkers run Deli Hye (49 S. Ocean; open 10 to 8 Mondays through Thursdays, until 9 Fridays and Saturdays, until 7 Sundays). You can get lox or thincrust pizza.

For a more official meal, try the WayStation Restaurant (78 N. Ocean; 995-1227). Open daily for lunch and dinner, weekdays for breakfast, and Sundays for brunch, it's comfortably nostalgic, with a fireplace in the parlor, wooden tables and chairs, and old photographs on the dining room walls. The building was a hotel for many years, and today's staff say some roomers are still present as ghosts. Choose steak or fresh fish for dinner (average price is about $11), omelets ($4 to $6) and champagne for brunch.

Photo: Ghost-likeMorro Rock hovers offshore, just south of unpeopled Cayucos State Beach and its always frigid surf

Photo: On Cayucos pier, you hear talk of bighalibut, even salmon, but most fishermen come for mackerel or small bass

Photo: Storefront-dotted main street contains a day'samusements, including restaurants, bookstore, antiques. From U.S. 101 to Cayucos, it's 32 miles via State 46 and State 1

Photo: Browser's paradise: old postal and greetingcards, magazines and comic books are among treasures at Cayucos Antiques (151 Cayucos Drive, open 10 to 5 daily)

Photo: Dawdle over brunch in the Way Station'scorner window, overlooking main street
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:California
Date:Mar 1, 1987
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