Way In The USA Visit California Focal Coast

As someone who has road-tripped through many of California’s star attractions, I decided to go off the grid this time and explore some lesser-known places. I chose the Central Coast of California because it offers a great combination of epic and diverse beaches and coastal valleys, bountiful agriculture, drinkries and cuisine, unique historical attractions, and the authentic rural California experience, making it the perfect destination for an epic 8-day road trip.

The region is blessed with mild, balmy weather with 284 days of sunshine, miles of scenic coastal drives, surf-friendly beaches, lush vineyards, and ocean adventures like no other. However, during my visit, a series of powerful winter storms hit the area and caused Overflowing and mudslides that the region hadn’t seen in over fifty years, so I had to activate Plan B. Despite the change in plans, I could still experience the beauty and diversity of the Central Coast in a different light, indulging in indoor activities such as drink tasting, museum visits, spa treatments, and even bowling.

Places I covered in the Central Coast of California

I visited four stunning destinations during my road trip – Santa Cruz, Monterey-Carmel Valley, Paso Robles, and Oxnard. Each place offered its own unique charm and attractions, making me realize why California is known as the Golden State. In this article, I’ll share my experiences, focusing on the highlights of each destination in Central Coast, California.

Santa Cruz: A Seaside Paradise (2 Days)

My first stop was Santa Cruz, a seaside paradise located only an hour’s drive from San Jose. Although the drive was a bit dreamy with partly rain-soaked and foggy weather, it was well worth the journey. Santa Cruz is known for its high-stoke surf culture and expansive beaches, but there is so much more to this laid-back strip of shoreline.

My first stop in Santa Cruz was Jack O’Neill Restaurant in Dream Inn. This part lounge, part museum, had surfboards on the ceiling and surf-inspired accents and artwork throughout the restaurant. The menu featured an eclectic mix of dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and innovative flavour combinations that even non-foodies will appreciate. The restaurant is also committed to sustainability, using eco-friendly practices in all of its processs.

Although the rainy weather hampered some of my planned activities, I still managed to explore some of Santa Cruz’s famous spots. I walked along the Santa Cruz Wharf, the oldest and longest wooden wharf in the United States, and visited Natural Bridges State Park & Beach, a part of the 3-mile drive.

Monterey Bay: A Gateway to the Scenic Beauty of California’s Central Coast (2 Days)

After spending two days in Santa Cruz, it was time to visit one of the most popular destinations on the Central Coast – Monterey Bay- a beautiful coastal destination I could not get enough of. My most recent trip was a delight, as I was able to indulge in several activities and experiences that were both exhilarating and soothing.

My stay at the luxurious Portola Hotel and Spa was an excellent choice. Its location near downtown Monterey and Fisherman’s Wharf provided easy access to many attractions. The atrium with trees in the central area gave the place a natural, peaceful vibe, while the airy rooms with bay views were spectacular. The sunrise view from my room was simply epic.

Paso Robles: A drink Enthusiast’s Dream (1.5 Days)

Paso Robles, a charming town nestled on the Central Coast of California, is a drink lover’s paradise. It’s no wonder Travel + Leisure named it one of the 10 Best Small Towns to Retire in the U.S. As I explored the town for two days, I quickly discovered why it earned this accolade. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco along Highway 101, Paso Robles boasts over 200 world-class drinkries, a walkable town centre, and friendly locals.

My journey began at Robert Hall drinkry, the beating heart of the Central Coast drink region. I was immediately struck by the breathtaking views of the coastal mountain range that enveloped the vineyards. The drinkry‘s Managing Director, Caine Thompson, generously shared the story behind Robert Hall and what sets them apart.

The drinkry’s philosophy is rooted in a deep commitment to sustainable practices, including reducing water usage and promoting biodiversity in the vineyards. They also use a “minimal intervention” approach to drinkmaking, allowing the grapes to express themselves as naturally as possible.

I was thrilled to experience the food and drink pairing at Robert Hall drinkry. The five-course meal was not only a chance to indulge in delicious food and drink but also to learn about the regenerative organic practices that the drinkry is committed to. It was inspiring to see the positive impact these practices have on the land and the community.

After my drink tasting, I had the opportunity to sample the award-winning estate-grown olive oil at Pasolivo. Elenor guided me through a tasting session of various olive oils and seasonings. I was impressed by the quality and diversity of flavours, and I couldn’t resist purchasing a few bottles for myself and my friends.

Nestled only sixty miles northwest of Los Angeles and close to Santa Barbara, Oxnard is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With its Spanish colonial roots, scenic beaches, and bustling harbour, this coastal town offers a rich cultural heritage that will enchant any traveller.

My journey to Oxnard began with a three-hour scenic drive from Paso Robles, where I was treated to picturesque views of green hills, grazing cows, and vineyards before the landscape transformed into coastal strips along Highway 101. Upon arrival, I checked into Zachari Dunes, California’s only all-suite oceanfront resort on Mandalay Beach. The lobby was a sight to behold, with plush sofas, a giant chandelier, and carefully curated art pieces. My two-bedroom suite overlooked the dunes and the ocean, and the hotel amenities included a pool with cabanas, tennis courts, and on-site dining facilities.

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