A region of California in between the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, the central part of the California coast is an area known for its lack of large population centers and rich farmlands. The weather here is interesting; while it is somewhat foggy, there is still plenty of sun to enjoy once the heat of the days burns away the coastal condensation. With warm weather, unimpeded views of the ocean, and an amazing overall lack of development, visiting Central California is one of the loveliest, relaxing parts of your California tour.
If you're driving south from San Francisco on Highway 1, you will first drive through Pacifica on your California tour of the coast, which is just beyond South San Francisco. You will soon come upon Santa Cruz, a small college town with an utterly relaxed feel. You will find very little going on in Santa Cruz besides surfing and relaxing.
Further south, the rough coasts give way to more manicured waterfront areas as you approach Monterey. Due to the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium, this is a hub of activity, and probably the area of Central Coast California that has the most tourists. There is Cannery Row, which is where many of the tourists will visit on a California vacation to the coast. Beginning in the early 1900s, Cannery Row was where companies sprang up canning the fresh fish that was caught in the fish filled waters of Monterey Bay.
South of Monterey, Carmel is home to Pebble Beach, which is a world class golf course overlooking the Pacific. One major highlight of California Coast travel is the 17 Mile Drive. Although the area has become more developed in the past 30 years, its natural beauty still shines through. You can park at the nearby trailhead and walk it free of charge, or you can pay $7 and drive through the manicures gold courses, and multimillion-dollar homes overlooking the loveliest parts of the Central Coast California.
You will marvel at the fact that some of the most unspoiled beaches in the whole state are on the Central Coast California. Out of all the parts of California Coast travel, none is more inspiring that the pristine beaches of the central part of the California Coast. Here, there is a slight dip down to the beach in some areas, but overall, the boulder-studded shores can be easily reached on a short walk from your parked car.
This part of the California Coast between Carmel and San Simeon is known as Big Sur. The Big Sur region is filled with coastal parks, one being the Point Lobos State Reserve. Rare vegetation and coastal wildlife live here, along with some interesting geological features. Most of the wildlife can only be seen from a distance, so you will want to bring binoculars if you're going to visit here on your California vacation.
If you are enjoying you California Coast travel you can spend a night or two at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. There is a big campground here, and a lodge you can stay in if you didn't bring any camping gear. Take a short hike on the trail to see the majestic Pfeiffer waterfalls.
The end of the Central coast California is San Simeon. This is where the mountains veer away from the coast, and are replaced by verdant, rolling hills. The big attraction here is Hearst Castle, which is perched on a hill above Highway 1. This is a must see if you get close to Big Sur on your California tour. A wealthy miner who was tired of camping out in the open on his ranch as asked San Francisco architect Julia Morgan to design a house. The 165-room estate was complete in 1947, which boasted walkways, pools and gardens covering a total of 127 acres.
Whether you're taking the scenic 17-mile drive around Carmel and Pebble Beach and stopping at the Lone Cypress or want to explore the otherworldly beauty of Hearst Castle, a California vacation to the Big Sur area will reward you with the most unforgettable vistas.
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