Explore, shop and experience California’s beautiful Central Coast.
Trip Time: 6 days
In the afternoon, enjoy lunch and world-class art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art . The museum is known for its extensive collection, with ancient art, impressionist paintings and modern art in the permanent collection. Only 10 minutes away is the Santa Barbara Zoo , home to 160 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. More than 500 animals are exhibited in open, naturalistic habitats.
Tonight, play at Stearns Wharf . Built in 1872, historic Stearns Wharf is Santa Barbara’s most visited landmark. You can enjoy the magnificent view from the pier, check out the neighborhood stores and enjoy a wonderful dinner at one of the wharf’s restaurants.
After tasting your fill, visit Solvang , a cute Danish town with half-timber buildings and windmills. The town features many authentic Danish bakeries and restaurants, and stores that sell Royal Copenhagen. Don’t forget to go to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum before you leave.
Visit Flower Field in Lompoc, known as the flower-seed capital of the world! The town is blanketed with vast fields of beautiful flowers, such as marigolds and sweet peas that bloom from June through August. Don’t forget to visit Mission La Purisima , a beautiful salmon-pink colored mission.
After grabbing a bite to eat, head to stunning Hearst Castle . This 250,000-acre ranch and magnificent mansion once belonged to newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The 115 rooms and three huge cottages are connected by terraces and surrounded by pools, gardens and a zoo! The tour also shows you Hearst’s vast antique collections.
Relax and unwind at Big Sur this evening. Big Sur is one of the most luxurious resorts in the country, and was beloved by famous author Henry Miller. The resort is also known as a “healing place” among new age enthusiasts. If you are a fan, don’t forget to visit Henry Miller Library ! Savor a fabulous dinner at Nepenthe , once owned by Orson Wells and Rita Hayworth. This ocean view restaurant is popular for both tourists and locals.
Hop back in the car for 17-Mile Drive to Monterey, a famous route that winds through an 8,400-acre microcosm of the Monterey coastal landscape. You can take in the view of impeccable green at Pebble Beach Golf Links , beautiful ocean, and classic Monterey or Spanish mission-style mansions.
Once in Monterey, try breakfast at First Awakenings , voted best place for breakfast in Monterey. Now it's off to enjoy the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium , where you are surrounded by sea creatures. There are plenty of options for lunch. Next to the aquarium, you can stop by the C restaurant at the InterContinental The Clement Monterey for lunch on the outdoor patio with stunning ocean views. Try the fresh seafood, premium Angus beef or local organic produce. No matter what you try, you're sure to be happy. Or try the Sardine Factory Restaurant for their signature Abalone Bisque or Calamari Puffs. Key scenes from Clint Eastwood's directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, were filmed here. Then, head to Monterey State Historic Park , California’s first historic park. You can take a look at a store, a theatre and government offices that are all well-preserved.
Wrap up your California excursion on Cannery Row . The waterfront street once crowded with sardine canneries was featured in John Steinbeck’s famous novel Cannery Row. The old tin-roof canneries have been converted into restaurants, art galleries and shops. For dinner, try the panoramic views of the The Duck Club Grill at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. They offer innovative cuisine from their distinctly American grill menu. Another option for dinner is the Fish Hopper , world-class dining with views of Monterey Bay from every table.. Watch the sunset over the water, and dream of your next California vacation.