Like I mentioned in my first post of this series, in September of this year I visited all eight of California’s rural regions. I was surprised in the best ways by how much I enjoyed each place for its own merits. In Visiting Central Coast, I was blown away by how much there was to do. We had two days but we could have spent a week here. In fact, I’m calling the Central Coast, the packed-with-things-to-offer Coast!
I am so excited to be promoting California’s 8 rural regions for VisitCalifornia‘s #CaliforniaWild campaign with my fellow bloggers Ottsworld, Stuffed Suitcase and Border Free Travels. The ATTA is coordinating this effort and has given me freedom in how I share my experiences with you so that even though this is a paid project, I can assure you all opinions and words are my own.
- First Impressions of the Central Coast
- Visiting Central Coast for Adventure
- Visiting Central Coast to ShareSLO
- Visiting Central Coast to eat all the things & drink all the brews
- Visiting Central Coast - Where to Stay
First Impressions of the Central Coast
We began our exploration at Morro Bay watching the surfers near Morro Rock. This area is known as the, “the Gibraltar of the Pacific.” I was distracted by the birds who seemed to walk on water, constantly forced to change course by breaking waves. We also made time to see the otters who hang out in the kelp beds off shore on the other side of the rock. They’re SO cute.
Visiting Central Coast for Adventure
DUNE BUGGIES!! We went out with Sun Buggy Rentals at Pismo Beach for an adrenaline-fueled ride on the sand dunes. The views were incredible and the thrill could easily replace my morning cup of coffee. I want to go do it again soon!!
Later, we went on a tour of Santa Margarita Ranch in a vintage hummer. Then, we explored the buildings on the property that you can rent for events. The Ranch holds evidence of early man which you can see in the holes carved into the solid rock in the photo below. Santa Margarita also has an original Mission, old trains and trucks, a zip line and an old stone structure that pre-dates our country. By the zipline course, we tasted Ancient Peaks wine which is grown on the property. The rosé was so good I brought a few bottles home to NYC!
We began at the visitors center for Channel Islands National Park, learning about the history and the ecology of the islands. The live saltwater tank was particularly fun. After that we all wanted to see the wildlife we’d been hearing about. So we tucked ourselves into some kayaks courtesy of Ventura Boat Rentals and headed out into Ventura harbor.
There was a group of sea lions hanging out near the fishing and leisure boats, that were mostly napping. They ended up making a lot of noise for us once we got closer. Did you know that they have different names as a group depending on the circumstance? On land they are a colony and in the water a raft. During breeding season they are known as a rookery and a group of females in a male’s territory is called a harem!
Visiting Central Coast to ShareSLO
San Luis Obispo, like many California towns, was founded originally around a Mission. Much of the architecture in town reflects that and the charm is undeniable.
From the breweries to the Mission to the AWESOME SHOPPING — SLO, as it’s known, is a terrific town. Just search #ShareSLO online to learn more. Their Thursday night Farmers Market was a highlight for me. Before it started we all added our DNA to Bubblegum Alley. There was an experience of getting our tongues burnt on Mexican Street Corn. Ha! And we made friends with the mascot of the market.
The Market was the bees knees and I didn’t want to leave!! The Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 6:00 -9:00 pm, weather permitting.
Speaking of food…
Visiting Central Coast to eat all the things & drink all the brews
Aka: nom nom nom noms. So many nom noms. From the rosé made on Santa Margarita Ranch to the Farmer’s Market to….
…where it all began with SLO Brew on our first night. I think we all died a bit over a beer cheese, pretzel and vegetable board. We were licking our fingers between sips of their outstanding craft beer.
The next day we enjoyed a long boozy lunch at Libertine Brewing. The goal was to have a sip of as many of their sour beers as possible. I adored the time we spent with Founder and Director of Brewing: Tyler Clark. There was so much to like about him from his rockin’ mustache to his taste in music to the philosophy with which he brews his beers. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a brewery so much.
Top pick at the Farmer’s Market: I don’t have one! Everything we tried was amazing! But especially the street corn and ice cream!
Also of note: Summerland Beach Cafe in Summerland and Brophy Brothers overlooking Ventura Harbor.
Visiting Central Coast – Where to Stay
I have a thing for vintage airstreams. So I was in seventh heaven staying overnight in one at Flying Flags RV Park in Buellton. During our visit it was the annual meeting of vintage trailers and airstreams. I woke to find the lots all full of old cars and the cutest little homes on wheels. They also have permanent cabins to rent, tiny homes and even safari-style tents.
Future posts in this series will cover the remaining two of California’s eight rural regions referenced in the map below. Please let me know in the comments what you enjoyed most about this region or what you’re most looking forward to learning next!
So far I’ve published guides to:
Thanks to GoPro for the HERO 5 Black that I captured many of these photos with. I could not have done half this trip without that camera. We were constantly on the water or in the water or doing an adventure activity that’s just made for GoPro…like riding in dune buggies.