A Perfect Drive Along California’s Central Coast
A drive along the Pacific Coast Highway has been called the original road trip and one of the most scenic coastlines on the planet. With marine parks, wineries, vibrant and endless hiking and biking trails, a road trip up or down the Pacific Coast Highway is an amazing vacation.
There are endless routes and diversions, but here is a sampling of one perfect road trip on California’s Central Coast.
Drive from Los Angeles to Ventura to the bustling Ventura Harbor Village for some shopping before departing on a ferry to the Channel Island’s National Park. Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment.
Upon return to the Ventura Harbor Village enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before making a few stops to sample the wines from local artisanal wineries that use grapes from all over California.
Continue to Ojai, a town known for its charming downtown, surrounding hills and fragrant orange groves. Check into a spa hotel for spa treatments and dinner made from local produce and wines.
Spend the morning exploring Ojai’s famous valleys, orange groves and surrounding hills.
Drive to Santa Barbara to explore what is commonly called The American Rivera. Stroll the boutiques of downtown and take a trolley tour of all the major sites. Follow the Urban Wine Trail to sample wines of the region before dinner on the town.
OVERNIGHT: SANTA BARBARA
Drive to Solvang and take the Solvang Heritage Walk to see all the Danish sites including five windmills and mermaid statue and sample treats from the famous Danish bakeries and chocolate shops.
Afternoon hike on one of the easily accessible hikes through the Santa Ynez Valley before dinner in one of Solvang’s many downtown restaurants that feature cuisines from around the world.
Drive to Oceano Dunes, recognized by scientists, and conservationists as the most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California, take a Humvee tour of these unique eco system.
Drive to Pismo Beach and visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove before exploring downtown Pismo Beach.
OVERNIGHT: PISMO BEACH
Drive to San Luis Obispo and explore the town that is often referred to as the happiest place in America including the famous farmers markets, boutiques and galleries and, of course, bubble gum alley. Rent a bike and visit the many craft breweries found in central San Luis Obispo.
Drive to the world-famous Hearst Castle for a tour of the over 165 rooms and breathtaking grounds.
Continue up the coast to Big Sur and check into hotel before dinner.
OVERNIGHT: BIG SUR
Spend the morning exploring Big Sur National Park including the California Redwoods and the purple sands at Pfeiffer Beach.
Drive to Carmel by the Sea to explore the vibrant downtown and explore the tasting rooms, many feature the unique wines of Monterey Wine Country, with the Carmel Wine Passport.
Drive to Monterey and check into a beachfront hotel and watch the sunset before dinner in a world-class restaurant.
Spend the morning exploring Monterey including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is home to 35,000 creatures representing over 550 species in nearly 200 exhibits.
Drive to Santa Cruz for lunch and a stop at Steamer Beach, one of the world’s best surfing beaches.
Drive to San Francisco for evening flight home
California’s Central Coast consists of:
VENTURA REGION: Ventura County, Camarillo, Conejo Valley, Heritage Valley, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley
SANTA BARBARA REGION: Santa Barbara County, Buellton, Carpinteria Valley, Lompoc Valley, Los Olivos, Santa Maria Valley, Solvang, Santa Ynez Valley
SAN LUIS OBISPO REGION: San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Cambria, Cayucos, Grover Beach, Harmony, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Simeon
MONTEREY BAY REGION: Monterey County, Santa Cruz County, Carmel, Gilroy, Hollister, San Benito
About Central Coast Tourism Council
The Central Coast Tourism Council (CCTC) is a non-profit organization comprised of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs; Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) throughout the California Central Coast. Comprised of tourism and hospitality professionals, the mission of CCTC is to jointly promote the entire California Central Coast as a destination. The four regions that comprise California’s Central Coast include Monterey Bay, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The CCTC also serves as the Central Coast’s voice in Sacramento, and as a partner with Visit California’s global marketing and advertising campaigns.