Find the perfect balance between urban and rural on California’s Central Coast. Celebrity residents, world-class resorts, an emerging wine region and a castle are part of the attraction, yet the atmosphere is relaxed and casual as you make your way along scenic Highway One. Because of this area’s unique geography and small towns, it offers some of the most dramatic and rewarding Highway One drives. California’s central coast wine country has been hailed as the next big thing. Tasting rooms in Paso Robles are some of California’s best-kept secrets for wine aficionados. You’ll also find plenty of California cuisine, thanks to talented Central Coast chefs.
Trip Time: 4 days
Kick off your tour of California with a drive down the stunning Pacific Coast Highway, one of America’s most beautiful drives. Enjoy stops at Big Sur , known for panoramic views and self-guided nature trails, Ragged Point and Bixby Bridge before arriving in San Simeon. Enjoy a guided tour and lunch at Hearst Castle . Built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst over 30 years, this magnificent 115-room castle is filled with an incredible collection of art and antiques. Next, head to the emerging Paso Robles wine country to taste some delicious vintages. The local limestone soil influences the popular Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel varieties grown here, and Rhone varieties also flourish in the warm climate. Spend the night in Cambria , an artists’ colony nestled in a forest of Monterey pines.
Wake up to a morning cruise of Morro Bay , a picture-perfect lagoon popular with birdwatchers. Then, continue to San Luis Obispo , a cute college town known for shopping, history and one of the best farmer’s markets in California. There, explore the Madonna Inn with its picturesque pool and day spa. You’ll continue to the historic Apple Farm Inn for a tour of the old-fashioned millhouse, an exact replica of a working grist mill from the turn of the century. Taste old-time candy and soda, and shop for cheese, olives, local wines, jams and other gifts. Enjoy lunch, and don’t forget the homemade ice cream! Other stops today include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts Theaterfest and a traditional smorgasbord dinner in Solvang , an authentic Danish settlement. Founded in 1911, Solvang is full of specialty shops and historic stops. Take a picture in front of an authentic windmill!
You’ll begin your morning with breakfast at a traditional Danish bakery in Solvang, then tour the Quicksilver Miniature Horse Farm . Head to the Santa Ynez Valley for a tour, wine tasting and lunch at a local winery. This is the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, and home to 14 award-winning wineries. It’s a perfect place to relax your mind and please your palate. Continue into fabulous Santa Barbara for a city tour, including stops at Mission Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens . Finish the perfect day with a wine and cheese reception and dinner at one of Santa Barbara’s many fantastic restaurants.
Today, you’ll head to Simi Valley for the last stop on your tour of California’s Central Coast – the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library . Discover artifacts from President Reagan’s incredible life story, including film clips and official documents. Take a walk through Air Force One!