Los Osos / Baywood Park Visitor Guide
This lovely, peaceful bayside community is the gateway to Montana de Oro State Park, one of the most spectacular oceanside parks in the country. The word “osos” means bear in Spanish and though you won’t find them roaming the streets anymore, Los Osos was named for the now-extinct California grizzly by the Spanish explorer Portola in the late 1500s.
Once described as “useless sagebrush scrub lands” when sold to Walter Redfield in 1919, Los Osos/Baywood Park was touted as being the next great vacation spot to big city folk looking to get away from it all. Very much off the beaten tourist path, Los Osos sits on the southern tidal estuary of Morro Bay, with a glassy bay, and an “eden” of feathered wildlife. With its mild climate and a friendly population of about 15,000, Los Osos today more than lives up to its earlier publicity.
Despite a number of very good restaurants, including the best Thai on the Central Coast, you won’t find much nightlife here after about 9 pm, even on weekends. What you will find is excellent kayaking conditions, great golfing, and endless tidepools to explore. Families will find lots of outdoor activities they can enjoy together.
Visit one of the lushest plant nurseries around, ride horses along the beach, take a walk through the magical Elfin Forest, and sit for a bit in the serenity of Sweet Springs Preserve. You’ll soon understand why the gentle creator of Gumby and Poky, the much-revered Arthur Clokey, spent his final years here.
Once considered a separate township, the bayside “neighborhood” of Baywood Park is now a part of Los Osos. Its name is its best description: a picturesque park right on what locals refer to as the “back bay,” and ringed with wooded stands of eucalyptus. The region of Baywood Park was first laid out and surveyed out in 1889, originally thought to become part of a narrow gauge rail line along the coast. So smitten were its early inhabitants that one of the first names proposed was The Townsite of Sunshine Beach. A two-part natural pond system now known as Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is located at the south end of the back bay area, and is perhaps Baywood Park’s prettiest and most popular attraction. Just a stone’s throw from Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay State Park, and the Morro Bay Bird Sanctuary, Baywood Park is an ideal sanctuary for humans, too, offering an ideal base camp for excursions along the Central Coast.
Known for its moderate climate all year round, Los Osos/Baywood Park has average temps between 50 and 60 in the winter; 60 and 70 in the summer. Romantic morning mists are typical most mornings, giving way to sunny afternoons and cool evenings during the summer. Winter is surprisingly clear, with sunny days and cool, clear nights. The ocean breezes come up in the Spring, with nights that cool down a bit. Humidity is consistently in the 45% to 65% range.
Though right on the water, you’ll need more than shorts and flip-flop sandals for this cooler, wetter climate. A good warm coat for winters and evenings will be needed, comfortable closed shoes, and maybe even some water proof duds for kayaking in the morning mist. Beyond that, bring a favorite birding book and a pair of binoculars for watching the abundant sea-life and hundreds of birds.