I love California. It’s hard not to when it is so beautiful and offers so much to see and do! The California Coast is divided into four distinct districts. The Ventura Region, The Santa Barbara Region, the San Luis Obispo Region and the Monterey Bay Region. Each district is distinct and has plenty to do for nature loving travellers. Combined, they form miles of rocky shoreline, breathtaking views of the Pacific and amazing, clean beaches perfect for swimming, surfing and plenty of outdoor activities! My favourite way to see these scenic regions is on a fly/drive holiday on the California Coastal Route.
The Monterey Bay Region is the first you will hit when you head South from San Francisco. It is the most northerly of regions and it offers an endless amount of California coastal experiences. The drive from San Francisco to Monterey takes approximately 2 hours by car. Stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course for some luxury, relaxation and a game of golf. From the foggy redwood forests, the San Francisco Bay area and the rugged cliffs along the Big Sur, the natural beauty in this area will take your breath away! If hiking, horseback riding on beach, hang gliding and whale watching aren’t enough to keep you entertained, try taking a segway tour of the area to see it all at once! Monterey Zoo and Monterey Bay Aquarium are great for the kids and if, like me, you’re looking for some excitement and nightlife, then Santa Cruz is the place for you! There really is something for everyone!
If you keep heading South, the next region you hit will be the San Luis Obispo Region! Shopping for crafts, enjoying local produce dining, sipping speciality wines, hiking up one of the local trails, having an outdoor adventure at one of the beautiful lakes or lying on an unspoiled beach are all within reach in the San Luis Obispo Region! The vintage beach towns have un-crowded, unspoiled beaches, perfect for sitting back and relaxing. I think a must see when in the area is the farmers market. Every week, six blocks of Higuera Street are closed off for stalls full of the freshest produce, barbecues and entertainment on the street. You can spend hours just soaking in the exciting atmosphere! There are plenty of cultural attractions in the San Luis Obispo Region including a children’s museum, an art centre, history museum and many art galleries. I love the legendary art, history and architecture of Hearst Castle, just 45 minutes north along the coast. You may have to stay a few extra days in this amazing region just to get everything done! San Luis Obispo is just a short drive from the Monterrey area and it takes just over 2 hours to get there by car. At Tour America, we love the Apple Farm Inn because of its combination of modern hotel luxury and its quaint wine country charm.
Up next is one of the favourites! The stunning Santa Barbara! Dubbed the American Riviera because of its Mediterranean Architecture, The Santa Barbara Region really is one of my favourite stops along the California Coastal Route. The mild tides and moderate temperatures make this region ideal for beaching (who doesn’t love the beach!?). Outdoor activities are a must because of the clear skies and plenty of sunshine! Scuba diving, golfing and exploring the many parks are among the activities that anyone can do. In the surrounding mountain area, you have to try hiking to the hot springs of Gaviota Peak, horseback riding in the Santa Barbara hills and rock climbing ‘The Y’ at San Ysidro Canyon! You will love the views along the way! Also, with just a few hours training you can paraglide over the pacific coastline! Who wouldn’t want to try that!? The drive from San Luis Obispo is about an hour and 30 minutes to Santa Barbara. The Best Western Peppertree Inn is located near the free-way and Downtown, great for anyone on a fly/drive.
And just when you thought you’d seen it all you hit the Ventura Region! The Ventura region is the most southern of the four regions and is a must on your road trip! Heritage Valley, an agricultural area with farms and small towns, is a great area for a break from the crowds. The coastal cities of Ventura and Oxnard are definitely where people come to surf! But there is more to do than surf. In Ventura, rent a boat, go fishing or kayaking. The surrounding mountain terrain is perfect for hiking and cycling. There are trails and parks suitable for everyone and if you’re on a family holiday, I would recommend the four person bicycle is perfect for getting around quickly and keeping the whole family together for the day. For those who are in the area without children, why not visit one of the wineries and breweries? My favourite is the Ventura County Wine Trail, who organise wine tasting tours in Ventura. One of my favourite places to stay in the area is the Four Points by Sheraton, Ventura Harbour Resort. Here, all the outdoor activities are easily accessible and the hotel itself is very comfortable and relaxed.
So there you have it, the Pacific Highway, My Way! If you are interested in a trip to California like no other to enjoy all this unspoiled natural beauty, then a fly/drive is the perfect holiday for you! Take the Coastal Route along California at your own time and explore the natural wonders in each region. Call 01 8173535 for more details.