Regions of California’s Central Coast

Discover everything you expect from a California vacation in the Central Coast’s four distinct regions. Get help planning your own road trip from the people who know the region best — you’ll find local visitor services dedicated to bringing you the best of each region.

Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey Bay make up the four regions of the Central Coast. Here, you’ll find everything you expect from the California coast: miles of rocky shoreline, beaches ideal for swimming and surfing, and panoramic views out over the Pacific. And the enchantment of the Central Coast doesn’t end at the water’s edge: drive inland to discover towering mountains, rolling wine country hills, and even desert-like landscapes.

Explore the real California — unspoiled coastline, rolling vineyards, and golden hills — on the Original Road Trip through the four regions of the Central Coast. Create the perfect road trip for any passion — surfing, kayaking, and biking for outdoors enthusiasts; classic architecture and history for culture hounds; and fresh local seafood, Santa Maria-style barbecue, and farmers’ market bounty for anyone looking for authentic eats. The Central Coast isn’t just in the heart of California, it is the heart of California.

Just north of Los Angeles, the Central Coast’s Ventura Region is home to rugged mountains, sandy beaches, fertile farmland, and a lively arts scene. Find a coastal urban buzz in Ventura and Oxnard, then head east to the artsy Ojai Valley, which looks like a vintage orange-crate label come to life. Explore the abundant patchwork of the region’s Heritage Valley, a fertile agricultural area of farms and small towns, and the perfect place to take a peaceful step back in time.

The Santa Barbara Region is known as the American Riviera, a nickname that pays tribute to its Mediterranean architecture, beckoning beaches and the dramatic mountain backdrop of its namesake city. The region extends beyond the city of Santa Barbara and into the North County, home to several internationally acclaimed wine regions.

The San Luis Obispo Region — roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles—is home to vintage beach towns, celebrated wine regions, and everything in between. Discover a walkable, historic downtown in the city of San Luis Obispo. Head north along the coast to find the legendary Hearst Castle and wild, unspoiled beaches. Sip your way through SLO Wine Country with its coastal wines and family-owned wineries.

To the north, the Monterey Bay Region spans a remarkable stretch of coast between the rugged shores of Big Sur and the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay area. The region’s namesake city is home to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, and just a short drive away, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a major arts destination. Nearby Santa Cruz is part beach town, part college town and always independent in spirit.