Region: Central Coast / Filter: attraction


Kayaking lets you enjoy another perspective of Monterey—looking back at the town and gorgeous beaches from the bay. Open-deck kayaks make the sport easy even for the inexperienced and paddling out amongst the seals and otters is quite memorable. We rented from A B Seas Kayak and... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Leaving Lompoc, follow signs for Buelleton, which has the redoubtable fame of being the home of split-pea soup—you come to Andersen’s Pea Soup Restaurant just before Hwy 246 crosses Hwy 101. The menu has more to offer than soup, but it is still possible to sample a bowl of... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The views are breathtaking and the trails are great for hiking, Bike riding, horseback riding and jogging. There is a limited number of campsites in the park so plan well in advance.... more

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Thirty miles south of Half Moon Bay is the Año Nuevo State Reserve, home to elephant seals whose huge males with their trunk-like snouts reach a whopping 6,000 pounds. From mid-December to the end of March park docents conduct a 3-mile round-trip hike to the breeding grounds of... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

bianchi winery paso robles (1)

Family owned, the wine tasting room of Bianchi Winery opens on to a lovely deck overlooking a small lake. We timed our visit here to coincide with lunch so we could enjoy the peaceful setting. Weather dampened our plans, but sitting in front of the cozy fireplace offered a delightful ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Believe everything you ever read about the beauties of the Big Sur Coastline: it is truly sensational. However, hope for clear weather, because on foggy or rainy days an endless picture of stunning seascapes becomes a tortuous drive around precipitous cliff roads. (In poor weather, yo... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

If you opt to remain on scenic Hwy 1, you will find its passage dramatic over the much-photographed, long concrete span of Bixby Creek Bridge.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Cannery Row, Monterey

Cannery Row, once the center of this area’s thriving sardine industry (the fish are long gone) and brought vividly to life by John Steinbeck in his novels featuring Doc and the boys, is now filled with small stores and tucked into an old warehouse are some outlet stores. The premier... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Carmel Mission, Carmel, California

Just south of town is the Carmel Mission, established in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra. Beautifully restored and fronted by a pretty garden, the mission was Father Serra’s headquarters. It is from here that the stalwart little priest set out to expand the chain of missions. A small ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Carmody McKnight Estate Wines, is an 1800s farmhouse with a pond in front, where you can enjoy your wine tasting while overlooking their gardens.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The Carnegie Library, in the center of the town park, is home to a wonderful collection of local history and a Western Art Gallery.... more

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Castoro south of Highway 46 W on North Bethel Road is a must for tasting. Challenging all to visit, they claim to pour “Dam Fine Wine” and offer gourmet foods to be enjoyed in their picnic area. Locals recommend Castoro Winery as a “must for tasting” and be sure to check the... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Daou winery paso robles california (5)

Detour off Adelaida Road and a secluded driveway (appropriately named Hidden Mountain Road) weaves a path  and at the top of the hill delivers you to an expansive view of rolling landscape and what resembles an Italian villa cresting a hilltop. If your itinerary requires that you se... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

In a region with lots of small family operations, at Dark Star there truly are just the four immediate family members (husband, wife, son and daughter) who are responsible for producing what they describe as “ultra-premium hand-crafted red wines. Stop here and they will welcome you ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Turn off 46W, traveling north on Vineyard Drive in order to visit Dover Canyon, an artisanal microwinery. The winery is named for the local canyon and the vineyard, Tre Noce, is Italian for the Three Walnuts and pays tribute to three walnut trees that remain from what once was the E... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

There are lines, mid-week and mid-afternoon, to eat at this James Beard Award winning restaurant. The food is not gourmet, it's just plain good. Famous for their artichoke soup and homemade olallieberry pie. You can even order and abolone sandwich! Founded in 1894 it’s a... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Eberle Winery offers picnic baskets made to order with advance notice. Enjoy your picnic on their deck, sample award-winning wines, and take time to tour the Eberle caves.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas (17)

We have long recommended the National State Park, Ano Nuevo, on the coast north of Santa Cruz, as an incredible place to view Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris). However, to visit Ano Nuevo requires a reservation and depending on the location of the resident seals, as much as a ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The Estrella Warbird Museum houses a collection of WWI and WWII military fighter planes.  Two men with a dream to restore and preserve the aircraft and vehicles for those who dedicated their lives to our country and aviation opened the non-profit museum over a quarter of a century ag... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Fishermans Wharf, Monterey

Fisherman’s Wharf, a quaint wooden fishing pier lined with shops and restaurants. At the end of the pier huge sea lions vie for the fish cast off the fishing boats. In fact, the seals have become a nuisance to the local boat owners as they have sometimes adopted the attitude of ’m... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

A favorite pet friendly restaurant is Forge in the Forest whose dog menu includes mouthwatering items as the Quarter Hounder (for the hound with a hankering for beef), Hen House Chicken Strips (grilled and sliced boneless chicken breast), Hot Diggity Dog (an all beef kosher dog for yo... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

It seems as though all the families in the Paso Robles region have a wonderful small winery. Here’s another worth a quick trip The reds are special and they only produce 2000 cases so hurry.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas (1)

For those of you who have seen the elephant seals in residence at the rookery just north of San Simeon, you might be interested in visiting their store and visitor center located at Cavalier Plaza in the village to obtain more information.  They have an excellent selection of books, ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

halter ranch paso robles (10)

Described as “a new winery with a rich history” it was the charming, soft yellow, Victorian farmhouse topped with its red roof and wonderful old covered bridge of Halter Ranch that tempted us off the road. At first we weren’t even sure if it was a winery. Hansjörg Wyss purchase... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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After the road begins to flatten out, watch for Hearst Castle impressively crowning the coastal hills. In 1919, William Randolph Hearst commissioned California’s famous architect Julia Morgan to design a simple vacation home atop a hill on his estate overlooking the California coast... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Another stop along the way where you can gain a closer view of this magnificent coastline is at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The parking area is to the left of the road. Leave your car and take the short walk leading under the highway and round the face of the cliff, which ove... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

justin inn and winery (16)

Justin Winery's tasting room, garden restaurant and three of its luxurious guestrooms (see recommendations of places to stay) are found in an attractive complex of soft beige, batten board clad buildings just a little further down the road. Now under corporate ownership the winery h... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The bounty of fine wine in the Paso Robles knows no end. Midnight Cellars is another of the award winning wineries off Highway 45 West. Three generations of the Hartenberger family have settled on a sprawling 160 acre ranch and are producing award winning wines under the Midnight Cell... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Leaving Pismo Beach, follow Hwy 1 south passing flat, wide fields of vegetables and eucalyptus groves through Guadalupe, a rather poor agricultural town. The road becomes a divided two-lane road as Hwys 135 and 1 merge. After passing the gates of Vandenburg Air Force Base (on the appr... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The focal point of the sightseeing is, of course, the mission, but do not end your touring there. The mission was established in 1797 and has been re-built several times due to eathquakes. Daily mass is still given at the church. The mission even played a prominent role in Hitchcock... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Mission San Luis Obispo

In 1772 this was the fifth California Mission built by Father Junipero Serra. It is a lovely mission to visit located just off the river at the heart of the town of San Luis Obispo. The gardens are lovely especially when the roses are in bloom. Entrance to the church is free; the reli... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

You definitely must not leave town without visiting the splendid Mission Santa Barbara, which is located at the rise of the hill on the northern edge of town. This beautiful church with two bell towers faces a large park laced with rose gardens. As in many of the other missions, altho... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The premier attraction in Monterey is the adjacent Monterey Bay Aquarium. The centerpieces of the Aquarium are the huge glass tanks that showcase the underwater world of the local offshore marine habitat from the diverse tidepools to the multitude of life in the Monterey Bay: one tank... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Located just on the northern outskirts of the coastal town of Santa Cruz, this 65-acre State Park is named for the dramatic and natural bridge that once spanned a section of the beach - it has sadly been eroded by natural elements.   Natural Bridges State Park serves as a great vanta... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

If you choose only one place to stop along the Big Sur drive, make it Nepenthe, about 3 miles south of the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Nepenthe is a casual restaurant, with a ’60s-style decor, perched on a cliff high above the ocean offering unsurpassed views (on a ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Ten miles south of Año Nuevo you come to the cluster of houses that makes up the town of Davenport. Fronting Hwy 1 is the New Davenport Cash Store, which sells everything from handmade jewelry to local pottery and whose restaurant offers a varied and healthful menu with excelle... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

If you have plenty of time, you might want to consider a very scenic 10-mile detour east off Hwy 1 following the Old Coast Road through beautiful redwood groves and country ranchland. ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

In Old Town a 3-mile walking tour links the restored buildings of early Monterey. The old adobe structures are interesting and a sharp contrast to the bustle of nearby Fisherman’s Wharf. The town was originated as the Mexican capital of California in 1826 and remained so until ... more

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History of the region is being embraced with the opening of mineral spas. Paso Robles Hot Springs (located 3 miles east of town off Hwy 46 east) offers massage, facials, and therapeutic mineral baths in a serene lakeside setting.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Along the drive is the famous Pebble Beach Lodge and Golf Course, site of the National Pro-Am Golf Championship each February. To play the course you will need to be a guest of the lodge or know Clint Eastwood. If the greens fees are a little on the steep side($475.00) stop at the g... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

A few miles passed Bixby Creek Bridge, the rocky volcanic outcrop topped by the Point Sur lighthouse appears. About 40 miles south of Carmel is the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with its camping facilities and many miles of hiking trails among coastal redwood groves. (831-667-2315)... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Not far away from the Carnegie Library is the Pioneer Museum which preserves the cultural heritage and historical legacy of the Paso Robles region.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

About 10 miles south of San Luis Obispo, Hwy 101 returns to the coast where you take the exit for Hwy 1 and Pismo Beach, a 12-mile arc of white-sand beach backed in part by dunes. This is the home of the famous Pismo clam, which has unfortunately in recent years become rather scarce. ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Located just south of Carmel on Hwy 1, Point Lobos State Reserve is, in our estimation, the premier place to enjoy the California coast. A small admission fee entitles you to day use of the park. Walk along the coastal trails and venture down wooden steps to secluded sandy beaches. Ro... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

If you enjoy riding trains, you can take the old-fashioned diesel that departs from the boardwalk twice a day during the summer months for the 60-minute ride to Felton. Here you board an old steam train of the Roaring Camp Railroad, a train that winds up into a redwood forest. The tra... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The highlight of the "Red Tile Walking Tour" published by the Chamber of Commerce is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a magnificent adobe structure with a Moorish accent. ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the last great seaside amusement parks. The amusement park bordering a broad stretch of white-sand beach, began as a popular day trip for workers in San Francisco. It now attracts people from around the world and appeals to the child in all of... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Sculptura Winery Paso Robles (15)

From downtown Paso Robles, travel south on Hwy 101 and turn east on Niblick Road which quickly transitions to Linne Road and takes you to Sculpterra Winery. When  you visit Sculpterra Winery you will definitely want to sample their labels in their handsome and welcoming tasting roo... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Seventeen Mile Drive, Carmel

Carmel lies just a few miles beyond Pacific Grove and there is no more perfect way to arrive than along the famous Seventeen-Mile Drive, which meanders around the Monterey Peninsula coastline between the two towns. The route is easy to find as the road that leads to the “drive” in... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Still waters vineyards Paso Robles (18)

Still Waters is small, sixty acre, family owned winery. A visit here affords a personal an intimate tasting experience. Sample Bordeaux and Rhône varietals in a small building surrounded by gardens that boast a 100-year old olive grove.  They also have a lovely gift shop.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Summerwood is one of the prettier wineries on the west side of Paso Robles located on Arbor Road just to the north of Highway 46.  It enjoys a beautiful setting, offers a picnic area, farm fresh cuisine, cooking classes and also boasts some gorgeous, luxury guest accommodation (see ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Tablas Creek Vineyards, Paso Robles, Ca

Occupying the southwest corner of the intersection of Vineyard Drive and Adelaida Road are the vineyards and winery of Tablas Creek. The subtle and wonderful French ambiance reflects the wineries affiliation with the Château de Beaucastel. Two of the world's most respected winemaker... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The Phoenix Shop is a unique gift shop featuring exceptional merchandise from around the world as well as from local arts. They have a wonderful selection of Clothes, artwork, books, and gifts.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

When planning your wine tasting route, do not leave out Tobin James. With its real western-flavor tasting room, great hospitality, and award-winning wines it is an interesting and fun winery to visit.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Karen Brown

Located just up from the beach and named for the originally rocky knoll, or "tor" on which it was built, Tor House was home to the American Poet, Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) and his family. Robinson and his wife, Una discovered the unspoilt beauty of Carmel in 1914 when it was undeve... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Study a map, and if possible navigate your route via scenic country roads like Neal Springs in this “El Pomar” area to the wonderful,  Wild Horse Vineyards. Wild Horse Vineyards with its distinctive white horse label, has producing a diverse selection of wines for over 25 years.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended