Hi Kathryn, I think you missed the best one...what about Cambria? 6 miles from Hearst Castle.
I live in Cambria, Ca. now, but was born in San Jose and mostly lived in SF/Oakland. I am...still surprised no one up there really knows of us. We are so much nicer for a beach visit than SLO and really if you take 101 vs. highway 1, we are only 3 1/2 hours from SF. It is quiet and quaint but not backwoods mentality. I moved here shortly after discovering it. San Luis Obispo is fine, but I think you need to add an 11th spot just for Cambria. I have a rather unique B&B here if you need a cool place to roost whilst discovering this hidden gem.
Cambria is nice. It's one of my favorite places on the Central coastline, and Moonstone beach is the only nearby beach I frequent. I live in Templeton on 46 west, so it's only a few miles for me to get to Cambria. Cambria is lovely, but I wouldn't want to live there because it's so often without power and suffers more storm, damage than many other towns and cities in the county.
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