As the most dominant doubles team of all time, pro tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan have wowed fans worldwide. But the crowd-pleasing identical twins, known for their signature high-flying chest bump after each victory, echo that there’s no place like home—especially when that home is California’s Central Coast. Though they now live elsewhere, the pair often returns to Camarillo, in Ventura County, roughly halfway between L.A. and Santa Barbara. We sat down with the high-flying pair at the home of the BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells Tennis Garden near Palm Springs, and asked them to serve up their views on everything from how they’d spend a perfect day in their home state to their favourite local place for soft tacos.
Where do you live?
Mike: We grew up in Camarillo, and I have a second home there, in Santa Rosa Valley. We live on a little five-acre horse farm; my wife’s a big horseback rider so we’ve got some land out there in the same development as Gary Sinise. He’s my neighbour.
Bob: I’m out of state, but I’m hoping to come to get back to California when my kids are older. Maybe when my daughter goes to Stanford, my alma mater, I’ll move out there.
Mike: [My Santa Rosa Valley home is] close to my parents, close to where our roots are. We love the area—we’ve travelled the world and there’s no place like home. It's just beautiful: the mountains, the ocean five miles away. That’s gonna be the place we’ll stay once we’re done playing. We’ll probably die in that house.
Bob: I like the variety and diversity of California—mountains, oceans, deserts—there’s not really any place like it that has it all.
Who or what is your greatest California love?
Mike: It’s tough to beat the Ventura County and Santa Monica beaches. We grew up bodysurfing there. And we love the mountains too—up behind Ojai in the Santa Monica Mountains—my mom and wife go horseback riding there all the time. We love the Channel Islands too—on a clear day and you see them on the horizon. It's a great view.
Bob: The fact that you can escape into nature on a trail and see what the Native Americans saw hundreds of years ago—it’s cool.
What is the biggest misperception about California?
Mike: That it’s all about showbiz and Hollywood. You get a whole range of people here—even cowboy types. It’s so diverse.
Bob: Yeah, everyone sees the Hollywood sign and that’s what they attach to California—but that’s just a very small part of this place.
What is the stereotype that most holds true?
Mike: The language. “Dude”—it’s what we grew up saying. When people hear us talk they know we’re from California.
Bob: Yeah: “Chill out, dude.”
What is your favourite Golden State moment?
Mike: The sunsets on the beach. We always go to the huge sand hill on the way to Malibu. I go up that and watch the sunset and the waves crashing. Mornings are great too—the crystal-clear air, the blue sky, the crispness. You can wake up on Christmas and go outside to a 75º day.
Bob: The cool shade. The air’s a little thicker on the east coast. I like the freshness in California—just throw on a light sweater at night and a t-shirt during the day.
Time for a road trip—where are you going?
Bob: I’d go up Highway 1 and stop at Santa Barbara, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, then spend the night at Ventana Inn. Then go to Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and I’ve gotta stop at Stanford. Then go across the Golden Gate Bridge into Muir Woods and then keep going up to Napa to do some wine tasting. Then come back and do it all over again.
Mike: I'd hit the national parks. We’d go to Sequoia National Park—my wife has never been and I want her to see those big trees. Then we’d hit Yosemite, then Lake Tahoe and go out on a boat on the water. We’d drive around the lake—on the California side, of course—roll all the way up the state, then zoom down the I-5 to Joshua Tree National Park.
If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be?
Bob: A carne asada soft taco or a chile verde burrito—they seem to get it right in Southern California. I’m always looking for authentic Mexican food.
Mike: We’d always go to Somis Market near Camarillo. It was in the middle of nowhere, and we hit it almost every day. It was pretty greasy and fattening, but it had the best flavour, and you couldn’t match those beans and rice and the sauces and salsas. To this day our favourite is Mexican food. A huevos rancheros breakfast—you can’t beat it.
Bob: Yeah, if we had one last meal on this earth, it would be Mexican food from Somis Market.
Best California song?
Bob: “California Love” by Dr. Dre and Tupac.
Mike: And any songs by the Beach Boys—my dad went to high school with them. He taught us to play music at an early age, and he taught us all the Beach Boys songs—“Surfin’ USA,” “California Girls.”
How would your California dream day unfold?
Bob: We’d wake up early, drop the kids off at school. We’d go on a bike ride in Ojai, maybe take a boat out on Lake Casitas, then swing over to Carpinteria Beach—the so-called safest beach in the world—and do a little body-whomping. Come back down, pick up the kids, go to the Santa Barbara Zoo, maybe do some shopping at the outlets. Then bedtime with some good Mexican food.
Mike: I’d wake up early, go get some great breakfast down in Venice, then go roller-blading along the beach. Take off the blades and go into the ocean for a little dip. Then get some lunch in Bel Air, maybe catch a concert with friends at the Hollywood Bowl…
Bob: Which concert?
Mike: Maroon 5. Then I’d go watch the sunset…
Mike: In Yosemite.
Bob: You’d need a space ship. Sounds like a good day.
Mike: Then I’d come back and do some horseback riding with my wife, then shut it down. Yeah, that sounds like a good day.
Your next stop, San Luis Obispo, may just be the perfect embodiment of the Central Coast. With its nuanced food and wine scene, rich history, and a decidedly mellow vibe, SLO (as the locals call it) is a must-see. This college town also features a slice of ranch culture—thanks to the area’s Santa Maria-style barbecue—and has ranked in past surveys as one of the happiest cities in America.
The spirit of downtown SLO is captured in Mission Plaza and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, which dates back to 1772 and overlooks the plaza. Explore the mission and its museum or show up on summer Friday nights for live music on the plaza. Year-round the first Friday of the month offers Art After Dark, with downtown SLO galleries opening their doors for wine tastings, snacks, and chats with local artists. A few blocks away, every Thursday evenings, you can find the city’s farmers market, a showcase for San Luis Obispo’s culinary landscape, including local tri-tip, tamales, craft beer (sample those at The Libertine Brewing Company), and the acclaimed clam chowder from Splash Café. Enjoy the locally sourced scene more intimately at Novo Restaurant & Lounge, which pairs a globally inspired menu with an idyllic creek-side setting.
Be sure to pay a visit to the 110-room Madonna Inn when you are in town. You can finish the day with a slice of the famed pink champagne cake and then retire in one of its quirky themed rooms, such as the Caveman, the Love Birds, and the Fox & Hound.
SLO delivers the goods on the wine-tasting front. Bottles bearing the world-renowned Paso Robles appellation can be found only about 30 miles away. But don’t miss the nearby Edna Valley region, in particular the Chardonnays of Edna Valley Vineyard and the Pinot Noirs of Tolosa. Then, check out the under-the-radar wineries of Arroyo Grande Valley, including the sparkling wines at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery.
San Luis Obispo County—a.k.a. SLO CAL—is home to an array of cool small towns, too. On your way into SLO, try the epic tri-tip at Jocko’s steak house in Nipomo, explore the dunes at Pismo Beach, and then say hi to the lounging sea lions off the coast of Avila Beach. Other essential stops as you then head north toward Hearst Castle include the harbour village Morro Bay, beachy Cayucos, and picturesque Cambria, set on beautiful seaside bluffs.
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