logo
  Facebook Twitter Flickr blog RSS

Central Coast Points of Interest

Central Coast Points of Interest

Central Coast

California Central Coast attractions are as simple as scenic drives or bike paths. Others include popular wharfs and Spanish missions. From a Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz to caves painted by Native Americans in Santa Barbara, here you'll find unique Central Coast points of interest and other popular attractions.

Santa Cruz Points of Interest

Fern Grotto Sea Cave is located north of Santa Cruz at Wilder Ranch State Park. Fern Grotto is a large sea cave that's covered with lush ferns. Visit at low tide for access to the sea cave. Park in the main parking lot at Wilder Ranch State Park. Head south from the parking lot and cross the railroad tracks. Stay on the trail past Wilder Beach and parallel the bluffs back west. Pass several inaccessible to where the trailheads north and hooks back south around Old Landing Cove where Fern Grotto is located.

Fern Grotto Sea Cave
Wilder Ranch State Park
1401 Coast Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 423-9703

State Park Map  |   Fern Grotto Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Portola Redwoods State Park is located west of Saratoga and Highway 85, off Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard). Portola Redwoods has two creeks and some of the tallest California Redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The main activities are camping and hiking on nearly 20-miles of trails that wind through a dense forest of coastal redwoods. Visitor center on site.

Portola Redwoods State Park
9000 Portola State Park Road
La Honda, California 94020
(650) 948-9098

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Big Basin Waterfall

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located northwest of Santa Cruz and Highway 9, off Highway 236 (Big Basin Way). Big Basin features a dense California Redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Activities include hiking and backpacking along the many oceanview and waterfall abundant trails. General Store and visitor center on-site.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, California 95006
(831) 338-8860

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Mission Santa Cruz is located off Highway 1 in downtown Santa Cruz. Founded by Padre Fermin de Lasuen on August 28, 1791, it is the twelfth California Mission. The Santa Cruz Mission is currently a State Park. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

Mission Santa Cruz
126 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Natural Bridges State Beach is located just west of Santa Cruz. The park features huge rock formation arches that rise from the ocean. A very large sandy beach, tide pools and coastal meadows are other natural features. Park amenities include picnic areas, restrooms, barbecues and a Visitor Center. The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is situated next to the park. From mid-October through February, over 100,000 Monarch butterflies make their home in the Monarch butterfly grove that is located in the park.

Blog See our Monarch Butterfly Groves blog.

Natural Bridges State Beach
Swanton Blvd. & W. Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 423-4609

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Santa Cruz Lighthouse is located at Lighthouse Point in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Lighthouse, also known as the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, is attached to a building which houses the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Off the southeast side of Lighthouse Point is 'Steamer Lane', one of the most renowned surf breaks on the entire west coast. The lighthouse was first lit on New Year's Day in 1870. It served until 1941 when the lighthouse and surrounding land was prepared for military defense during WWII. The original wooden structure was eventually dismantled and destroyed. But in 1967, the parents of Mark Abbott who had drowned at a local beach two years earlier, built a new brick lighthouse as a memorial to their beloved son.

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse
701 W. Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-6289

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Steamer Lane is located off Cliff Drive near Downtown Santa Cruz. Situated just east of Lighthouse Park, Steamer Lane is a notorious surf spot. Some of the best waves in California roll through Steamer Lane as endless rights around the Lighthouse Point. Surfers must descend a staircase and traverse a boulder field or jump from the bluff to enter the surf. Steamer Lane was the origin of the surfing wetsuit invented by Jack O'Neill, a Santa Cruz resident. No facilities.

Steamer Lane
Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Sea Cliff State Beach is located off PCH (highway 1 - Pacific Coast Highway) in Aptos. This park features a large sandy beach popular for swimming. A pier ends at a partially sunken, concrete ship that used to be a source of entertainment. On the ship was a dance floor, café, swimming pool and carnival concessions. Today the ship is inaccessible but makes for good fishing off the pier. State Park camping is available for RV's only, no tents.

Sea Cliff State Beach
201 State Park Drive
Aptos, California 95003
(831) 429-2850

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


The Mystery Spot Santa Cruz is located north of downtown Santa Cruz off Highway 1 at Branciforte Drive. This wooden home nestled in the redwoods originally opened in 1940 and is an anomaly of gravity, perspective and all that is right in the world. See rooms that appear to be longer than they actually are, doorways that lean toward the Earth's poles and many more unexplainable experiences.

The Mystery Spot
465 Mystery Spot Road
Santa Cruz, California 95065
(831) 423-8897

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Santa Cruz Wharf is located off Highway 1 (PCH) near the intersection with Bay Street. The wharf features many restaurants, specialty shops, and entertainment options. Boat & kayak rentals and fishing charters are available at the wharf. Seals and sea lions frequent the wharf and enjoy interacting with the tourists. The historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is situated on the beach right next to the wharf, and offers carnival attractions, amusement rides and a hair-raising roller coaster.

Santa Cruz Wharf
Beach Street & Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, California 95060
(831) 420-5270

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Roaring Camp Railroads is located between Highways 9 and 17 in the town of Felton. Choose between an 1890 steam train that travels through redwood forest or a more modern train that passes through a redwood forest and stops at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for more entertainment. Pass over steel truss bridges and through a tunnel on your way down the mountain to the beach. Special events include Civil War reenactments, train robberies, ghost trains and more.

Roaring Camp Railroads
5355 Graham Hill Road
Felton, California 95018
(831) 335-4484

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


View of Santa Cruz Boardwalk from pier

Santa Cruz Boardwalk is located off Highway 1 in Santa Cruz. This is a classic boardwalk amusement park and the oldest one in continual use in California. Attractions include the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster, a 1911 carousel, arcades, shopping and entertainment.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Capitola Venetian Hotel is located off Highway 1 between 41st and Bay Avenues. Situated on Capitola Beach at the base of the Capitola Wharf, the Capitola Venetian is an historic 1924, brightly colored grouping of condominiums built with Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial architecture. Today, it is run as a quirky boutique hotel conveniently located adjacent to Capitola Village with its plethora of boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafés. A popular photo-op of the Venetian is from any of the restaurants or beach across Soquel Creek.

Capitola Venetian Hotel
1500 Wharf Road
Capitola, CA 95010
(831) 476-6471

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


San Juan Bautista Mission is located off Highway 156 in San Juan Bautista. Founded by Padre Fermin de Lasuen on June 24, 1797, it is the fifteenth California Mission and one of the largest. The San Juan Bautista Mission became known as 'The Mission of Music' thanks to the musical talents of Padre Esteban Tapis who was also the founder of Mission Santa Ines. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

TIP: Mission San Juan Bautista was featured in the famous Hitchcock thriller, Vertigo

Mission San Juan Bautista
2nd and Mariposa Streets
San Juan Bautista, CA 95045

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Monterey Points of Interest

Cannery Row - image compliments of www.canneryrow.com

Cannery Row is located off Highway 1 (PCH) Aguajito Road and Monterey Bay Aquarium exit. The Cannery Row of yesteryear has a rich history in the whaling and sardine fishing industries and was the focus of John Steinbeck's novel, Cannery Row. Today, Cannery Row features several city blocks of hotels, restaurants, specialty shops, and entertainment options. The famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is situated at the end of Cannery Row. Find the best deals on name brand merchandise at the American Tin Cannery Outlets right next to Cannery Row.

Cannery Row
Monterey, California 93940

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Old Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey

Old Fisherman's Wharf is located off Highway 1 (PCH) near the Fremont Street exit. The wharf features many restaurants, specialty shops, and entertainment options. There are several whale watching charters to choose from as well as deep sea fishing and boat rentals. Monterey Bay is full of sea life and it is not uncommon to watch sea otters at play while you dine on the wharf. The Monterey Maritime Historic Park including the Monterey Maritime Museum are at the base of the wharf. The famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is a short drive from here.

Old Fisherman's Wharf #1
Fisherman's Wharf #1
Monterey, California 93940

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Monterey Maritime Museum

Museum of Monterey is located off Highway 1 in the Custom House Plaza complex at the base of Old Fisherman's Wharf. The history museum holds almost 6000 artifacts, over 50,000 photographs and historical documents. The 580 glass prisms of the historic Fresnel lens from the Point Sur Lightstation illuminate the Maritime Museum and its seven exhibit areas from the Rumsien/Ohlone Indians and Spanish explorers, to the USS Macon and war in the Pacific, to Monterey's era as the sardine capital of the world. Admission is free.

Museum of Monterey
5 Custom House Plaza
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 372-2608

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Path hugs the coastline of Monterey Bay through Fort Ord, Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. The trail is mostly bike path used by joggers, skaters and bikers with some road sections. The entire path stretches 29-miles from Castroville in the north to Pebble Beach in the south. Choose to tackle the entire length or just cruise the easy portion between Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row and Pacific Grove. Bay Bikes Rentals is located at Cannery Row and rents bikes for your enjoyment on the trail.

Bay Bikes Rentals
585 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 655-2453

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Point Pinos Lighthouse is located west of Monterey in Pacific Grove. The Point Pinos Lighthouse began operation in 1855 and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast. It even has the rare distinction of containing the original Fresnel lens. Interesting stories surround its former lightkeepers including one that was killed pursuing an outlaw as part of a Sheriff's posse and another that received mention in a writing by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Point Pinos Lighthouse
60-72 Asilomar Avenue
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 648-3176

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Monarch Butterfly Preserve

Monarch Butterfly Groves are located at several points along the Central Coast. Every year between October and February, Monarch butterflies nest through the winter on their way between Canada and Mexico. It's an amazing site worth experiencing first hand. Watch for the access trail marked by the 'Monarch Grove Sanctuary' sign on the right and park across the road alongside the school. The trail passes between private residences and the Monarch Grove Inn. This small grove hosts thousands of monarch butterflies. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History provides docents who greet visitors and provide detailed information about monarchs. Pacific Grove is known as 'Butterfly Town U.S.A.' and hosts the Butterfly Parade in October.

Blog See our Monarch Butterfly Groves blog.

Pacific Grove Butterflies
1073 Lighthouse Avenue
Ridge Road between Lighthouse & Short
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Seventeen-Mile Drive is located between Pacific Grove and Carmel. This scenic drive follows a picturesque coastline with parking and markers at unique or especially photographic points. Pass through neighborhoods of palatial mansions and alongside some of the most sought after golf courses in the world. The 'Lone Cypress' is one of the most photographed trees in the world and can be found along this stretch. Stop at one of many picnic areas conveniently situated on bluffs above wide sandy beaches. Take your time and make a day out of it by watching otters play in the kelp or trying to spot whale spouts as they migrate between Mexico and Alaska. At the time of this writing in 2009, a $10 fee is charged for access to 17-Mile Drive.

17-Mile Drive
Carmel, California 93921

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Carmel City Beach

Carmel Scenic Road is located at the end of Ocean Avenue in Carmel. This beach offers stretches of sandy beach and secluded coves among native cypress trees. Scenic Road follows the shoreline and ends to the south at Carmel River State Beach. Dogs and fires are allowed on the southern portion of the city beach. Activities include nature walks, surfing, kite flying, picnicking and sunbathing.

Scenic Road
Carmel, California 93923

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Carmel Mission

Carmel Mission is located off Highway 1 at the south end of Carmel. Founded by Padre Junipero Serra on June 3, 1770, it is the second California Mission. Of Moorish design, a tower houses nine bells. This was Padre Serra's favorite Mission and he is buried here by his own request. The Mission resides in a beautiful location at the south end of Carmel overlooking the Carmel River. The Carmel Mission is known as 'The Crown Jewel' of the Mission system. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

Mission Carmel
Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo
3080 Rio Road
Carmel, CA 93923

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Point Lobos State Park is located south of Carmel off Highway 1. Half of this park is underwater and favored by scuba divers and snorkelers. The other half includes picnic areas, hiking and jogging trails on rocky picturesque headlands. The main attractions are Whalers Cove, Bluefish Cove and an old abalone fishing village. Other activities include hiking, fishing, picnicking and sightseeing. Check out our Cool Towns page for more details on Carmel.

Point Lobos State Park
Highway 1
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-4909

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


National Steinbeck Center is located off Highway 101 from Market Street. Situated in the heart of Steinbeck country, the National Steinbeck Center is a cultural museum that promotes art and literature. In addition to the permanent Steinbeck exhibit that focuses on works like The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony, other exhibits at the museum include Japanese History, Mission Photography, Dia de Los Muertos and more.

National Steinbeck Center
One Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 775-4721

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Pinnacles National Park is located east of Soledad off Highway 101. The park resides on the remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires and sheer-walled canyons create a breathtaking landscape of more than 12,000 acres. Pinnacles is renowned for the beauty and variety of its spring wildflowers. Activities include camping, hiking, rock climbing, caving and wildlife viewing. Park features include two large caves with an active bat population and Tunnel Trail where a bridge meets a tunnel blasted through solid rock.

Pinnacles National Park
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, California 95043
(831)389-4485

Map  |   pdf Park Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Big Sur Points of Interest

Andrew Molera State Park is located off PCH (highway 1 - Pacific Coast Highway) in Big Sur. Popular activities at Andrew Molera State Park include camping, hiking, horseback riding, fishing and beach combing. The Big Sur River runs through the park where seasonal bridges are installed during the wet season. A primitive walk-in campground offers 24 campsites in this relatively undeveloped park. The stables at Andrew Molera allow for horseback riding on the beach.

Andrew Molera State Park
47555 Highway 1
Big Sur, California 93920
(831) 667-2315

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Sykes Hot Springs are located deep in the Ventana Wilderness inland from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Access by hiking the strenuous 10-mile Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station. Water crossings of Big Sur River may be necessary. Sykes Hot Springs feature two small tubs of naturally heated 102-degree water alongside Big Sur River. This is a popular hiking destination so the small 4-to-6-person tubs can often be full upon arrival. A limited number of primitive campsites are available for those looking to spend the night.

Sykes Hot Springs
47225 Highway 1
Big Sur, California 93920
No Phone

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website 1  |   Website 2  |   Other Ideas


McWay Fall, Big Sur - photo courtesy of L. Thompson

McWay Falls is located off PCH (highway 1 - Pacific Coast Highway) in Big Sur. Situated in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, beautiful McWay Falls drops 80-feet onto the sandy beach below. Access the short scenic trail from a parking area on the mountain side of the highway.

McWay Falls
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
47555 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-2315

Map  |   Hotels  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Point Sur Lighthouse is located on the Big Sur Coast approximately 25 miles south of Monterey. Poised atop a 350-foot headland, the Point Sur Lighthouse began operation in 1889. The Point Sur Lighthouse was one of the more remote lighthouses on the coast and therefore needed to be somewhat self sustaining. Supporting structures still standing on Point Sur include a barn, blacksmith shop, water tower, lightkeeper's home, assistant keeper's home, garage, barracks and more. Docent-led tours are 3 hours long and start at the gate off Highway 1.

Point Sur Lighthouse
Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93940
(831) 625-4419

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


San Luis Obispo Points of Interest

Elephant Seals

An Elephant Seal Colony is located on a beach just north of San Simeon and Hearst Castle, right off Highway 1. The colony is relatively new and increasing in numbers with every season. Docents are often available for questions and sea lion facts. The address below is for Friends of the Elephant Seals where you can obtain information and gift items relating to the seals. The map link we provided is just a short distance south of the actual location of the colony.

Friends of the Elephant Seals
250 San Simeon Avenue
San Simeon, CA 93452
(805) 924-1628

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Piedras Blancas Lighthouse is located off Highway 1 approximately 6 miles north of Hearst Castle. The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse went into operation in 1875 and is a classic lighthouse structure. Unfortunately, an earthquake in 1948 damaged the glass cupola which has since been removed. Guided lighthouse tours are available on select days. The original Fresnel lens is on display on Main Street in Cambria.

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
15950 Highway 1
San Simeon, CA 93452
(805) 927-7361

Map  |   Map to Lense  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Roman Pool at Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle State Park is located off PCH (highway 1 - Pacific Coast Highway) in San Simeon. Construction originally began on this mansion in 1919. It was the home of William Randolph Hearst who made his fortune in the newspaper and movie industries. Hearst Castle contains 115 rooms, guest houses, roman pools, and museum quality antiques & sculptures all atop a 250,000-acre ranch. Past guests include Winston Churchill, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin and more.

TIP: Hearst Castle tours include a shuttle bus from the Visitor Center to the castle atop the hill. Several Hearst Castle tours are available and the IMAX movie gives great insight into Hearst Castle history and the Hearst family. Be sure to watch for wild animals from the shuttle that still remain from the zoo that was once on the property, which includes zebra, reindeer and more.

A State Beach is also connected to the monument and is a classic, Northern California, picturesque coast of sand beach dotted with rocky outcroppings. There is a pier that provides opportunities for deep-sea fishing from charter boats. Activities include swimming, fishing, kayaking, sunbathing and picnicking with barbecue grills provided. A concession stand rents equipment like bodyboards and kayaks.

Blog Check our Hearst Castle blog for more details on Hearst Castle tours.

Hearst Castle State Park
750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, CA 93452
(800) 444-4445

Map  |   Hotel  |   State Website  |   Hearst Castle Website  |   Other Ideas


Moonstone Beach, Cambria

Moonstone Beach is located along Moonstone Drive off Highway 1, in Cambria. This beach is popular for surfing, kayaking, sightseeing and moonstone collecting. Boardwalks span the bluffs above the beach for nearly a mile. At the northern end is a park offering picnic facilities among the shade of Cypress trees. The southern portion ends at a large sand beach that's usually covered with driftwood. Hotels, Inns, art galleries and restaurants line Moonstone Drive making it a popular destination.

Moonstone Beach
Moonstone Drive
Cambria, California 93428

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Nitt Witt Ridge is located off Highway 1 in the town of Cambria. Nitt Witt Ridge is the poor man's Hearst Castle that was a folk art project of homeowner Arthur "Art" Harold Beal for over 50 years. The current homeowner offers guided tours of this quirky property that seems to be entirely constructed from old beer cans, washing machine parts, hubcaps, sea shells and other oddities that were formed into concrete structures. Call ahead for current tour schedules.

Nitt Witt Ridge
881 Hillcrest Drive
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-2690

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Mission San Miguel

San Miguel Mission is located off Highway 101 in San Miguel. Founded by Padre Fermin de Lasuen on July 25, 1797, it is the sixteenth California Mission. Mission San Miguel resides in an unrestored state and suffered damaged from a 2003 earthquake. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

Mission San Miguel
Mission San Miguel, Arcangel
775 Mission Street
San Miguel, CA 93451

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Paso Robles Inn

Paso Robles Inn is located off Highway 101 on Spring Street. Situated in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country, Paso Robles Inn is known best for its Deluxe Spa Rooms featuring spa tubs filled with the healing waters of a natural hot spring. The Inn was once owned by the uncle of Jesse James, the famous Wild West outlaw. Jesse James visited the Inn in 1885 to heal from a gunshot wound inflicted during a shootout with militia in Nashville. The Paso Robles Inn also offers a premier steakhouse, lounge and coffee shop.

Blog See our Paso Robles blog for more details.

Paso Robles Inn
1103 Spring Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(800) 676-1713

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Franklin Hot Springs is located off Highway 101, southeast of Paso Robles on Creston Road. Franklin Hot Springs includes a small lake for boating and fishing, as well as mineral hot springs that naturally heat a swimming area to 97.30F and a hot tub to 100.10F. The only boats allow on the lake are non-motorized like sailboats, canoes, row boats, fishing floats and remote control. The lake is stocked with bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Many species of waterfowl and even California beaver make this lake home.

Franklin Hot Springs
3085 Creston Road
Paso Robles, California 93446
(805) 712-5372

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Green Acres Lavender Farm is located off Highway 101 from the Santa Rosa Road exit. Green Acres grows lavender and offers natural lavender products and tours of the farm. Enjoy the benefits of lavender while relaxing in the lavender fields during the day and under the stars at night.

Green Acres Lavender Farm
8865 San Gabriel Road
Atascadero, CA 93422
(805) 466-0837

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Jack Creek Farms is located off Highway 46 between Templeton and Cambria. This family-owned farm offers visitors a farm-life experience and a reconnection with simpler times past. Visitors are encouraged to take part in farm activities including planting, harvesting and roping. Get up close with farm animals and sample some of their treats like apple cider, pomegranate juice, caramel apple, cookies and fudge. All of their produce is naturally grown and available for purchase in their country store. Group tours are available.

Jack Creek Farms
5000 Highway 46 West
Templeton, CA 93465
(805) 238-3799

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Morro Rock, Morro Bay

Morro Bay is located midway between Los Angeles and Santa Cruz off Highway 1. Recognized for Morro Rock on the outer edge of the harbor, Morro Bay is a Central California playground. Visitors enjoy golfing, kayaking, sailing, hiking, rock climbing, birdwatching, deep-sea fishing, surfing, biking, horseback riding, walking and much more. The harbor is clean and calm, perfect for a relaxing kayak adventure. Morro Bay also specializes in day spas, art galleries and nearby wineries.

Morro Bay Visitor Center
845 Embarcadero Road, Suite D
Morro Bay, California 93442
(805) 772-4467

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Monarch Butterfly Groves are located at several points along the Central Coast. Every year between October and February, Monarch butterflies nest through the winter on their way between Canada and Mexico. It's an amazing site worth experiencing first hand. Docents are usually on hand at each location to teach you further details about their migration. The Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is located at the southern end of Morro Bay in Los Osos.

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve
Ramona Ave. between 4th & Broderson
Los Osos, CA 93402

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Mission San Luis Obispo is located off Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo. Founded by Padre Junipero Serra on September 1, 1772, it is the fifth California Mission. The site was originally chosen for its abundant grizzly bear population that provided meat for consumption and trade. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

Mission San Luis Obispo
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
782 Monterey Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Sycamore Mineral Springs is located in south San Luis Obispo County off Avila Beach Drive and are managed by Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. More than a dozen pools offer natural mineral rich rejuvenation and are rentable by the hour. The Resort also offers other health & wellness therapy such as massages, hypnosis, yoga and more. Lodging and dining are another option the resort offers. The nearby Avila Beach is a popular tourist destination.

Sycamore Hot Springs Resort
1215 Avila Beach Drive
San Luis Obispo, California 93405
(800) 234-5831

Map  |   Restaurants  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


View from Bob Jones Bike Trail

Bob Jones Bike Trail follows the beautiful Avila Creek in southern San Luis Obisbo County. Bring your own bike or rent one at the Sea Barn in Avila Beach. Follow the paved trail through golf courses and oak dotted hillsides for nearly 3-miles to Highway 101. Connect with Ontario Road and head north for another 7 miles to downtown San Luis Obispo, or south to Shell and Pismo Beaches. Bring your bathing suit and stop for a dip at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.

Bob Jones Bike Trail
Avila Beach, California 93424

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Point San Luis Lighthouse is located south of San Luis Obispo off Highway 1 on Avila Beach Drive. Built in 1890, the Point San Luis Lighthouse is perched in a cupola atop a beautiful Victorian mansion that was once the lighthouse keeper's home. The original Fresnel lens is housed in the adjacent foghorn house. Follow Avila Beach Drive past Avila Beach and the oil pier. Before Harford Pier, make a right on Wild Cherry Canyon Road and park in the dirt lot. Docent-led lighthouse tours are available on select days and include a trolley ride from Wild Cherry Canyon.

Point San Luis Lighthouse
1 Light House Road
Avila Beach, CA 93405
(805) 540-5771

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Avila Sea Caves are located south of Avila Beach off Cave Landing Road. From Avila Beach Road turn onto Cave Landing Road and head up the steep hillside road and follow to the end and a large parking area. Bluff-top trails branch out across the bluffs to several sea caves. Some sea caves are accessible while others are only viewable from the bluff or by kayak. Trails heading south go to Pirate's Cove, a local nude beach.

Avila Sea Caves
Cave Landing Road
Avila Beach, CA 93424

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Gopher Glen Apple Farm is located in south San Luis Obispo off Highway 101 at San Luis Bay Drive. Gopher Glen offers visitors farm fresh apples and apple products like apple cider, apple butter, fruit preserves and various baked goods. Check their calendar for ripening dates of dozens of apple varieties from July through November.

Gopher Glen Apple Farm
2899 See Canyon Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 595-2646

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Dinosaur Caves

Dinosaur Caves are located north of Pismo Beach off Highway 101, in Shell Beach. These sea caves are only accessible by kayak. Some of the sea caves are viewable from Shell Beach/Frontage Road at Dinosaur Caves Park. Contact Central Coast Kayaks for group tours and kayak rentals.

Dinosaur Caves
Cliff Avenue
Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Pismo Caves are located at the far north end of Pismo Beach off Highway 101. Also known as 'White Caves', these sea caves are accessible from Ocean Way, Wilmar Avenue or just head north along the beach from the Pismo Pier. Large crevices and caves are cut into stark white cliffs. The cliffs alone are worth visiting for their unique color and flowing layers. Wheelchair accessibility from the Seacrest Hotel.

Pismo Caves / White Cave
Wilmar Avenue
Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Pismo Beach State Beach is located just south of Pismo Beach and the Pismo Beach Pier. To the north is a wide sandy beach, a pier and a thriving beach community. To the south is a wide sandy beach, beach camping, a Monarch Butterfly preserve and off-roading in the Pismo and Oceano Dunes. Popular activities include surfing, fishing, butterfly viewing, off-roading and State Park camping. Pismo Beach State Park is a great place for driving off-road vehicles or horseback riding on the beach. The coolest part is that you can drive on the beach since most of the beach is an OHV park. The sand is so compact that even 2-wheel drive vehicles can head out on the sand. Several campgrounds are available along the sand dunes.

Pismo State Beach
555 Pier Avenue
Oceano, California 93445
(805) 489-2684

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

  • Grover Beach is located off Highway 1 from Grand Avenue. Grover features a huge white sand beach backed by sand dunes. Restrooms available.
    Map

  • Oceano Dunes Beach is located off Highway 1 from Pier Avenue. Oceano features a huge white sand beach backed by sand dunes. Restrooms available.
    Map


Monarch Butterfly Groves are located at several points along the Central Coast. Every year between October and February, Monarch butterflies nest through the winter on their way between Canada and Mexico. It's an amazing site worth experiencing first hand. Docents are usually on hand at each location to teach you further details about their migration. The southernmost location is in Pismo Beach at the south end of the Pismo Beach Campground.

Blog See our Monarch Butterfly Groves blog.

Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove
North Beach Campground
Highway 1 south of the North Beach Campground
Pismo Beach, CA 93448

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Santa Barbara Points of Interest

Mission Santa Ines

Mission Santa Ines is located off Highway 246 east of Highway 101 in Solvang. Founded by Padre Esteban Tapis on September 17, 1804, it is the nineteenth California Mission. Also known as 'The Mission of the Passes' for its location between Santa Barbara and Lompoc. Mission Santa Ines museum houses a collection of vestments, artwork, documents, and artifacts that were used in and around the mission throughout its history. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

Mission Santa Ines
Mission Santa Ines, Virgen y Martir
1760 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA 93463

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Solvang Windmill photo courtesy of www.SolvangUSA.com

Solvang is located north of Santa Barbara off Highway 246. The Village of Solvang is known as 'Little Denmark'. When you see the windmills, you know you've reached Solvang. Here you can purchase unique Danish goods such as wooden shoes and savor traditional fare like meatballs, torsk and gherkins. It's hard to stay out of the many authentic bakeries. Solvang hotels and country Inns are constructed and decorated to resemble Denmark. The real highlight of Solvang is that it's located in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country. Wine tasting rooms are situated throughout the town and exceptional wineries can be visited by a short drive in any direction.

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Nojoqui Falls are located south of Solvang off Alisal Road. Nojoqui Falls County Park offers picnic grounds, a playground, volleyball court and a short trail to a waterfall. The trail cuts through a dense wooded forest ending at the beautiful Nojoqui Falls, standing at 80 feet high and featuring moss-covered rock and a small pool. The fall is best after rains or in early spring.

Nojoqui Falls County Park
Alisal Road
Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 934-6123

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


South Coast Railroad Museum is located off Highway 1 from Los Carneros Road. Situated at Lake Los Carneros Park, the South Coast Railroad Museum focuses on the history, technology, and adventure of railroading with emphasis on the railroad's contributions to local history and the Southern Pacific Railroad. Unique features at the museum include the historic Goleta Depot, a Southern Pacific caboose, an HO-scale model train set, handcar rides and miniature train rides. The 'Central Coast Flyer' offers one-day, round-trip excursions along California's Central Coast aboard a vintage train car.

South Coast Railroad Museum
300 North Los Carneros Road
Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 964-3540

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Monarch Butterfly Groves are located at several points along the Central Coast. Every year between October and February, Monarch butterflies nest through the winter on their way between Canada and Mexico. It's an amazing site worth experiencing first hand. Docents are usually on hand at each location to teach you further details about their migration. Also known as the Coronado Butterfly Preserve and Ellwood Butterfly Grove, the Goleta Butterfly Grove is located off Hollister Avenue next to the Sperling Preserve on the Ellwood Mesa. Park in the Ellwood Beach parking lot.

Blog See our Monarch Butterfly Groves blog.

Goleta Butterfly Grove
Hollister Avenue
Goleta, CA 93117

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website 1  |   Website 2  |   Other Ideas


Arroyo Burro Beach is located off Highway 1 north of Santa Barbara off Las Positas Road. Also known by locals as Hendy's Beach, Arroyo Burro features a large sand beach, picnic grounds, restrooms and a popular restaurant situated on the beach. Enjoy fish tacos and a Mai Tai at the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach, a popular locals restaurant. Activities at Arroyo Burro Beach include surfing, swimming, fishing, whale watching and picnicking.

Arroyo Burro Beach County Park
Las Positas Road & Cliff Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is located off Highway 101 between the Castillo and Garden Street exits in Santa Barbara. Look for the triple dolphin fountain at the end of State Street and you've found California's oldest working wharf. Attractions include Ty Warner Sea Center, parasailing, deep sea fishing, whale watching, specialty shops and restaurants. The wharf is surrounded by East and West Beaches, two of Santa Barbara's most popular beaches. This is the place for the freshest seafood in town.

Stearns Wharf
210 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, California 93101

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located off Highway 1 from Castillo Street. Situated in Santa Barbara Harbor, the museum focuses on local ocean topics with exhibits like Goleta's Cannons, Boat Model Gallery, Surfing Exhibit, Survival at Sea, Commercial Fishing & Diving and more. Also offered by the museum are Tall Ship tours and educational films shown daily in their large screen, high-definition theater.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
113 Harbor Way
Suite 190
Santa Barbara, CA 93109
(805) 962-8404

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara Mission is located off Highway 101 at Mission Street, in Santa Barbara. On December 4, 1786, the tenth California Mission was founded. This was the first California Mission to be founded by Padre Fermin de Lasuen after Padre Junipera Serra passed away. Considered the 'Queen of the Missions', its purpose was to convert the local Chumash Indians to Christianity. This beautifully restored California Mission features a museum, fountains, active church, gardens and cemetery with an historic fig tree.

TIP: Follow the signs approximately 2-miles farther up the road to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden where remnants of the dam and aqueduct system remain that were used to supply the mission with fresh water.

Mission Santa Barbara
2201 Laguna Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


El Presidio de Santa Barbara is located off Highway 101 in downtown Santa Barbara. El Presidio is a 5½-acre State Historic Park that was once a Spanish fortress in 1782. Two of the original adobe buildings are open to the public along with a visitor center with exhibits, displays and a gift shop. One block away is Casa de La Guerra, an early 1800's adobe residence of a Presidio comandante.

El Presidio de Santa Barbara
123 East Canon Perdido Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 969-9990

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Santa Barbara Courthouse is located off Highway 101 in downtown Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Courthouse is open to the public and a must-see stop for all tours in the city. Built in 1926 after the original courthouse was damaged in an earthquake, the courthouse has several beautiful features including the Mural Room, Clock Tower, Observation Tower and gardens. Hundreds of weddings take place in the Mural Room and gardens every year.

Santa Barbara Courthouse
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 969-9990

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


The Funk Zone is located off Highway 101 in Santa Barbara. The Funk Zone is an eclectic part of downtown Santa Barbara with unique art galleries, cafés, boutique shops, wine tasting rooms and tour operators. The Funk Zone is found just east of Stearns Wharf and State Street, behind East Beach. The Amtrak train station is situated adjacent to the Funk Zone.

The Funk Zone
Anacapa & Yanonali Streets
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Lotusland is located off Sycamore Canyon Road (Hwy 192) east of Santa Barbara. Lotusland was the home of Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer in the 1940's. This 37-acre property features a botanical garden with spectacular collections of exotic plants, fountains, statuary and tile work. Reservations are necessary since this is a public garden in a private, upscale neighborhood.

Ganna Walska Lotusland
Cold Spring Road
Montecito, CA 93108
(805) 969-9990

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Chumash Painted Cave is located off Highway 154 between Santa Barbara and Lake Cachuma. A short, steep trailheads from Highway 154 to a small cave containing Chumash Native American paintings. The paintings date back to the 1600's and possibly earlier.

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Painted Cave Road
Santa Barbara, California 93101
(805) 733-3713

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Rincon Beach County Park is located between Carpinteria and Ventura. Situated on Rincon Point that consistently produces perfect rights, Rincon is legendary with surfers. It has been memorialized in several surf songs and movies over the years. Rincon Beach features a mixed rock and sand beach, picnic grounds and restrooms. Activities include surfing, swimming, whale watching and picnicking.

Rincon Beach County Park
Rincon Point Road
Carpinteria, CA 93013
(805) 568-2465

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Ventura Points of Interest

Matilija Canyon is located off Highway 33 north of Ojai. Also known as Ojai Hot Springs, Matilija Hot Springs are natural mineral springs situated right off the road in Matilija Creek. Also nearby is the seasonal Matilija waterfall that flows down the rock face of a mountain. Access to the hot springs has been off and on over the years.

Matilija Hot Springs
Matilija Hot Springs Road
Ojai, CA 93023

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Anacapa Island photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Channel Islands National Park are an island chain of 5 islands located off the California coast. The Channel Islands California can be accessed by boat from the Ventura Harbor or Channel Islands Harbor. Channel Islands National Park includes the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara. Popular ocean activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, whale watching, sailing and tide pool exploration. Land activities include Channel Islands camping, hiking, picnicking, bird watching and exploring. Park employees conduct interpretive hikes on the islands throughout the year.

GETTING THERE:
Boat from Santa Barbara - Truth Aquatics (805) 963-3564

Boat from Oxnard or Ventura - Island Packers (805) 642-1393

Plane from Camarillo - Channel Islands Aviation (805) 987-1301

Channel Islands National Park
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, California 93001
(805) 658-5730

Map  |   pdf Park Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Ventura Mission is located off Highway 101 in Ventura. Founded by Padre Junipero Serra on Easter morning March 31, 1782, it is the ninth California Mission and the last of Padre Serra's missions. Spanish Missions were built all along the California coast between 1769 and 1823. The Spanish built the Missions in their conquest to convert the indigenous people of California to Christianity and as strongholds for their newly claimed territories. Twenty-one missions were built along the 'King's Highway' in California, which is now Highway 101 in the central state and Interstate 5 in the south. These Missions remain the oldest structures in California.

Mission Ventura
Mission San Buenaventura
211 East Main Street
Ventura, CA 93001

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Central Coast Points of Interest

J. Lohr Winery

Wineries are abundant all along Highway 101 with most offering public wine tasting. World-renowned, Central Coast wines are produced in towns like Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Los Olivos and Santa Barbara. MORE DETAILS


California Points of Interest

San FranciscoLos AngelesOrange CountySan DiegoInland EmpireDesertCentral CoastSierra NevadaNorth CoastShasta CascadeGold CountryCentral ValleyHome Page