Coming down Highway 1 from San Jose to San Luis Obispo, you’ll pass by the peaceful town of Harmony. This quiet oasis lies just off the coast highway and is three miles from Harmony Headlands State Park to the south, and five miles from the town of Cambria to the north. The quirky town of Cayucos is just eight miles south. (See related story: Hearst Castle).
Harmony has humble beginnings, dating back to 1869 when it was established as a dairy settlement by Swiss immigrants. The area was made up of a creamery and a number of dairy farms, the owners of which maintained tense rivalries until 1907, when a truce was called and the community chose the name “Harmony” as a declaration of their commitment to peace.
In the years since then, the quaint village has remained serene and low-key. It famously has less than 20 residents, and consists of a single block. This close-knit environment has given Harmony a sense of community that is true to its name, and what lends the hidden gem a special atmosphere of nostalgia and respite, one that every person traveling the central coast should experience.
In 2014 the town was purchased by the Van Der Horst family of San Luis Obispo, who have been working to revitalize the town. This effort includes creating a history museum focused on the town’s past, as well as the renovation of many of the original buildings, such as the creamery. The old structures will soon be home to a blacksmith’s gallery, a garden shop, a music studio, and a tranquil cafe. The Harmony Valley Creamery is already back in full swing cranking out some of the best ice cream anywhere. They don’t have a shop onsite yet, so for now you’ll have to ask for it at local stores in Cambria and Morro Bay.
There’s also Harmony Glassworks, a glassblowing shop that offers a vibrant collection of colorful glass creations, ranging from unique tableware to artful statues of sea animals. Guests even have the opportunity to make their own glass objects. More sculptures by Harmony’s artistic denizens can be found at Harmony Pottery. In addition to vases of all shapes and sizes, the pottery works offers artisanal porcelain jewelry.
In the hills above the village is the Harmony Cellars Winery, a producer of fine local wines with a taste that reflects the smooth, easy living of the town. It offers daily tastings, and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. A quick 8.5 mile drive north into Cambria will take you to another great fixture of the region, Centrally Grown. The grounds are home to a gourmet natural foods market, edible gardens, ocean-view patios, and a restaurant & bar serving innovative California cuisine.
Harmony is the perfect place for a pit stop on your drive along the coast. Visit soon enough, and you’ll be able to witness new life being breathed into the old town through renovations and restorations. With the new development, you can expect this tiny town to fully embody its big character and sense of history.
Below is a list of our suggested coastal access point and beaches near Harmony.