Hotels along the Central Coast
Slow down and savor the blissful beaches, rolling Wine Country, and romantic seaside towns of this relaxed region. Life moves a little slower here in the Central Coast. From the unforgettable coastline of Big Sur on Highway One to the hilly inland valleys, you’ll encounter a classic California landscape that’s perfect for cruising. Redwood forests, craggy cliffs, curvy sand dunes, verdant vineyards, and volcanic peaks – it’s all here on the Central Coast, easy to access from both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Paired with this potent natural beauty is a bounty of one-of-a-kind towns. Saunter along the American Riviera in sunny Santa Barbara. Pack your picnic basket at the farmer’s market in San Luis Obispo. Linger in the cool garden of a historic Spanish mission.
Sip wines and craft beers in Paso Robles and eat ice cream on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz – a quintessential California experience. Historic Monterey. Quaint Pacific Grove. Dreamy Carmel-by-the-Sea. Take your pick of laid-back hamlets, boho beach towns, and elegant cities on the Central Coast.
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Top Things to Do
Historic Sites: Spanish Missions, Native Cultures – and a Castle
Historic El Camino Real (the King’s Highway) runs through the Central Coast, and seven Spanish missions line the way. Some of the most beautiful missions are in Santa Barbara, Carmel, and San Juan Bautista. Discover Native American artifacts at Channel Island Marine Sanctuary, and board Air Force One at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Glimpse lavish ballrooms, gardens, and pools on a hilltop at the opulent Hearst Castle.
Wildlife and Zoos: Seals, Butterflies, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Be captivated by the dazzling underwater world at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Central Coast’s world-famous animal attraction. Thousands of butterflies gather in the region’s Monarch Butterfly Groves from October to February every year. Drive slowly on Highway 1 in San Simeon – you don’t want to miss the hundreds of elephant seals sleeping, barking, and shuffling on the beach.
Interesting Museums: Vintage Planes, Pioneer Relics, and California Art
Uncover the rich character of the region, from its rustic history to its robust artistic culture. Enjoy contemporary California artwork at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. In Paso Robles, see vintage military aircraft at Estrella Art Museum and Old West relics at the Pioneer Museum. Traveling with the fam? Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo both feature delightful children’s museums.
Exhilarating Outdoor Adventures: Find What Moves You
The Central Coast’s cool beaches, dreamy forests, and cliff-side trails create the perfect backdrop for fun in the Great Outdoors. Hike to hidden hot springs in redwood forests and swim in jewel-toned lakes. Hop on a jet ski, an ATV, or a horse and explore the peaceful valleys. Paddle across Morro Bay in a kayak or ride a glider plane in Santa Inez. Stumble upon secret beaches and picture-perfect coves in Big Sur.
College Sports on the Central Coast: From Soccer to Surfing
Cheer at high-energy college sports games up and down the Central Coast, which boasts a large number of colleges for its population size. The University of California at Santa Barbara provides the region with a fervent sports fan base. Cal Poly lights up San Luis Obispo. Join the fun and gather with the energetic crowds at college basketball games, soccer matches, swimming championships, and surfing competitions.