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The stunning California Central Coast

Updated on August 17, 2009

From the stunning array of aquatic life around Monterey to the range of rare wildlife on the five unspoiled Channel Islands, the Central coast is without a doubt, a nature lover's heaven on earth. If you like to kayack, you'll be teased by sea otters, and also be able to observe pods of majestic gray whales offshore in the winter as they make their annual migration south to the warm waters of Mexico.

Starting in October and continuing through March you'll be able to watch tens of thousands of delicate Monarch butterflies cling to eucalyptus trees in Pacific Grove, Pismo beach, Morro Bay, and Montana de Oro State Park. It is such an awe inspiring site to witness.

Another fascinating event that takes place is when gigantic elephant seals, many weighing up to 5,000 pounds, gather and mate along the northern coastline of Piedras Blancas.

I haven't forgotten about you wine lovers, because the central coast is full of world-class wineries and vineyards from north to south. Let me not forget the fabulous Hearst Castle, the most popular non-theme park in California which sits amost an equal distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles. You won't believe your eyes if you are fortunate enough to visit this magnificent castle.

About a hundred or so miles further south, cozily tucked between a curving coast of white beaches, and lushes green foothills of the Santa Inez Mountains, is the beautiful town of Santa Barbara. This town resembles a Mediterranean-style beach town, with it's red-tile roofs and Spanish/Moorish architecture.

If you live in California, and never been to the Central Coast, or if you are visiting the state in the near future, it's a must see experience. The coastal drive along Highway 1 is sublime.

National Steinbeck Center
National Steinbeck Center
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park
Santa Inez Valley
Santa Inez Valley
Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle
Carmel near Pebble Beach
Carmel near Pebble Beach
Whales along the Central Coast
Whales along the Central Coast
A Sea Otter
A Sea Otter
Beautiful Monarch Butterflies
Beautiful Monarch Butterflies

Top Ten Attractions on the Central Coast

1.National Steinbeck Center, Salinas

Get to the heart of the Central Coast's cultural heritage at the Steinbeck Center, celebrating the region's number-one native son, John Steinbeck.

2. Channel Islands National Park

Travel from Ventura to "America's Galapagos" aboard a high-speed biodiesel-fueled catamaran.

3. Santa Ynez Valley

This is where you can discover the charm of Santa Barbara County's wine country, made famous in the film Sideways. Enjoy sampling some of the state's best Pinot Noir.

4. Hearst Castle

Called "The Enchanted Hill", high above the beaches at San Simeon, the castle has 115 rooms in the main house, guesthouses, pools and a acres of cultivated gardens.

5. Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex

Here you can climb the highest beach dunes in the western United States, and also take a guided nature walk and follow a boardwalk to the magnificent Pacific Ocean.

6. Monterey State Historic Park

Take a peak at the 19th century, when Monterey was the capitol of California. You will be able to visit the well preserved adobes and spectacular gardens, it is trully a sight to see.

7. Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, Simi Valley

Climb aboard the former Air Force One Presidential Plane, and learn about Reagan's years as governor of the State of California.

8. Shop Ocean Avenue, Carmel by the Sea

What a shopping experience walking down tree-lined streets to lovely shops and boutiques. For you art lovers, there are plenty of high-end art galleries to put a scope on.

9. Dine at the Hitching Post in Carmel

The movie Sideways also made a stop here. The BBQ is great because it is grilled over an oak-wood fire. If you've got cowboy boots, wear them.

10. Enjoy some spirits at the Biltmore.

Try to make your stop here in late afternoon so you'll be able to watch the sun slip below the surf because it's just awesome!


Find out more about Central California


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    • Kamran! profile image


      7 years ago

      California is one of my favorite state in united state:) nice stuff!!!

    • AEvans profile image


      10 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Mine too!!! :)

    • laringo profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

      Yes, up and down the California coastal area is very's so refreshing to visit always. Definitely my favorite landscape.

    • AEvans profile image


      10 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      We resided in Redondo Beach and I certainly miss the beach, the serenity and the life. Great Article!!


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