Wednesday, September 9, 2015

GUADALUPE-NIPOMO DUNES CENTER (Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties, CA) 7/29/15

During our Central Coast vacation last year, we stopped by the Dunes Center in the rural town of Guadalupe off Hwy. 1 on our way back to Santa Maria after visiting Mission San Luis Obispo. This place had been on my "must see" list primarily because of the nearby Nipomo Dunes Preserve's abundant spring wildflowers and the more than 200 bird species that come through this area (including nesting snowy plovers and least terns). The building that houses the Dunes Center looks like a quaint seaside cottage on a quiet residential street rather than a visitor center and we literally drove past it a couple of times before realizing where it was. Although we didn't have time on this trip to visit the actual preserve and wildlife refuge, we enjoyed looking at the exhibits and talking to the docent there, who described at length the history of the town of Guadalupe and also of the amazing discovery and unearthing of the movie set of Cecil B. DeMille's original 1923 silent film The Ten Commandments under the sands of the Guadalupe dunes. Apparently, rather than dismantling and removing the set after shooting was completed, DeMille ordered that everything be broken down, buried under the sand and left to the elements. It wasn't until 2012 when, through the efforts of documentary filmmaker Peter Brosnan and funding from a wealthy private donor, that archaeologists began excavating the site. A number of the artifacts, including parts of the sphinxes, are on display at the Center. If you're a movie buff, you gotta check this place out!

Here's an interesting article about the unearthing of "The Lost City of Cecil B DeMille"

The Dunes Center has the feel of a quaint seaside cottage, with native/drought-tolerant landscaping in the front.

Sea Balls!

One of the Sphinx heads on display.

Another Sphinx artifact.

Sphinx foot!

Cows grazing on cabbage leaves off of 11th Street behind the Dunes Center. The aroma was, well, kinda indescribable! But, hey, the cows were happy...

Our parking spot in front of Leroy Park off of 11th Street.


Location: 1065 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe, CA 93434

County/State: Santa Barbara, CA


Amenities: Information center, book store, gift shop, restroom. Handicap accessible.

Parking: There's parking street side in front of the Center, or on 11th Street (cross street next to the Center)

Wednesday through Sunday 10am - 4pm (other times by appointment only)

Fees: Adults $5.00 / Children under 12 free

Telephone: (805)343-2455

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