You'll be shocked to see these creatures in SLO CAL

No, you're not hallucinating. You really did just see a peacock jump out from behind that row of vines! SLO CAL is chock full of surprises; you never know who (or what) you might see around the bend. Case in point: the following unexpected animals, which—believe it or not—can all be found throughout SLO CAL, if you know where to look. Soon, you'll be telling your pals about your wild encounters, as bizarre as they may seem to outsiders. Just be aware: they may not believe you at first. Might want to snap photographic proof!


1. Zebras along Highway 1

See stripes in San Simeon. It's well known that the late great print media mogul William Randolph Hearst loved to collect exceptional people. Everyone from rising Hollywood starlets to famous politicians were invited to his lavish San Simeon palace, known today as Hearst Castle. But did you know that Hearst also collected exceptional animals? At one time, his on-site zoo contained an ever-changing menagerie of 300 rare creatures, including bison, elk, camels, kangaroos, giraffes and—yes—even zebras. While Hearst may have once been able to brag about owning "the largest private zoo in the world," now only remnants of this fascinating history remain. Next time you stop by Hearst Castle for a tour for its sun-dappled pools, manicured gardens, and world-renowned architecture, keep an eye out. While driving down Highway 1 near the town of San Simeon and the castle's famed Enchanted Hill, you just might see the ancestors of Hearst's beautiful zebras grazing on rolling ranch land, not far from the Hearst family's grass-fed cattle!


2. Roosters in Arroyo Grande

Love farm fresh eggs? You're in cluck. There's just something special about the charming Historic Village of Arroyo Grande, a place where time truly stands still. This unique turn-of-the-century downtown village is home to an array of antique shops and fine dining options nestled amongst historic buildings. Not far from Lopez Lake and sprawling farms, the village is a true slice of Americana in SLO CAL. Not convinced? Take a walk down to the historic Swinging Bridge, not far from downtown. Don't jump if you hear some loud bawk-bawking. Brightly colored hens and roosters are known to roam these parts, particularly in the rectangular block of land surrounding Arroyo Grande Creek between Bridge Street, Olohan Alley, South Mason Street and Nelson Street. You can even see the odd rooster or hen perched over the back door of Klondike's Pizza!


3. Goats in Cambria

Bleating by the beach? We've heard weirder. Serene Cambria is known for moonstones, seabirds and sweeping coastal vistas where pine trees meet the sea. Goats? Not so much. However, at Stepladder Creamery, you might just see more goats than people! Take a tour of this working creamery and avocado farm and meet the personalities behind the dairy (they love to prance, jump and generally get into mischief). The happy herd of LaMancha goats graze on three acres of open pasture and oak woodlands, making their cheeses particularly delicious. Each spring, the babies are born. If you've never bottle-fed a baby goat, you're in for a total treat. Next we'll be telling you the goats know how to surf!


4. Peacocks in See Canyon

Break for beaks. Located between scenic Avila Beach (a great spot for hot springs, seafood and paddleboarding) and the southernmost SLO CAL wine region of Edna Valley, See Canyon is rich with apple orchards, lavender fields and grapevines. As you enjoy your glass of local chardonnay or cider, be on the lookout for a fantastic flock of rainbow-colored fowl.  A group of proud peacocks are known to traverse the vines at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards all year round. Although they mostly congregate around the winery's tasting room, it's not uncommon to see a peacock or two displaying their fine feathers on the side of the road. Good thing that they are very easy to spot!


5. Llamas and sheep in Paso Robles

What in the world do lambs and llamas have to do with wine? Yes, you may spot these fuzzy friends in Paso Robles Wine Country. You've probably heard of winery dogs and cats—but this just sounds ridiculous, right? We can assure you, llamas and sheep are known to wander outside the tasting room of Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards as well as the neighboring Dusi Ranch, among many others. As it turns out, llamas are great protectors of the flock and can be counted on to deter any carnivorous pests from dining on leg of lamb. Why is this so important? Believe it or not, sheep actually play a crucial role in any biodynamic wineries by cutting back the weeds and adding nutrients to the soil.


6. Horses in Los Osos

Howdy there, neigh-bor. Looking out over the majestic dunes and tide pools of Montana de Oro in Los Osos, you'd expect to see seagulls, starfish and sea anemones. But what's that in the distance? Don't be surprised if you also see horses striding along the golden sand. This protected state park offers up many horse-friendly trails—plus, you can ride right on the beach, while the tide rolls in. It might sound like the cover of a romance novel to you, but it's just another day in SLO CAL for the rest of us!