A drive through the Central Coast isn't complete without a stop at a few of the many excellent wineries in the region. The coastal area is known mostly for its pinot noirs and chardonnays. Stop by and taste the wines or buy a bottle to take back to your campsite at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande and Cayucos Cellars in Cayucos.
If you prefer to combine your wine tasting with adventure, check out Ancient Peaks Winery's Margarita Adventures. You'll see the Santa Margarita Ranch, learn about agriculture, take a zipline tour, and finish with a wine tasting.
The region's most famous historical landmark is Hearst Castle, located in San Simeon about 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo. The mansion was designed for the American newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst, and was donated to the California State Park system in 1957. It is now a national historic landmark and tours operate daily.
Another fascinating historic landmark is the Point Sur Lighthouse in Big Sur. The lighthouse was established in 1889 and still operates from the rocky headland today. Guided walking tours of the lighthouse operate on Wednesdays and weekends year-round.
There are plenty of hot springs in the region. Favorite soaking pools are located at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach, Esalen Institute in Big Sur, and Sykes Hot Springs in the Ventana Wilderness.
Whether you love hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, the best trails in the region are found at Montaña de Oro State Park. Highlights include the Bluffs Trail, Valencia Peak Trail and Hazard Mountain Trail.
A beach camping road trip has to include beachcombing. Top Central Coast beaches are located at Spooner Cove in Montaña de Oro State Park and Sand Dollar Beach in Big Sur. Both beaches are dog-friendly on-leash. If your pooch prefers to run free, head to Dog Beach. It is located about between Morro Bay and Cayucos; take the Yerba Buena exit from the Pacific Coast Highway.
Sea life is abundant in Morro Bay and the best viewing is from a boat. If you go Whale Watching with Sub Sea Tours in Morro Bay you'll likely see harbor seals, sea otters, and sea lions; you'll get a chance to see California Grey Whales and Monterey Humpback Whales; and if you're lucky you'll also see short-beaked common dolphins.
Getting on the water in Morro Bay is a must and there are a few ways to do it. You can take a lesson or rent a stand up paddleboard from Central Coast SUP or go on a naturalist guided kayak tour with Central Coast Outdoors.
The McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is one of the more popular destinations and sights to see in the Big Sur area. McWay Creek plunges 80-feet over granite cliffs into the Pacific Ocean, creating the most scenic waterfall on the coast. Avoid hefty fines and stay safe by adhering to caution signs in the viewing areas.
Big Sur has more to offer than just scenic beaches and rugged coastline. Head up into the Santa Lucia Mountains for a different perspective and climate. The Ventana Wilderness and Los Padres National Forest have trout streams, hiking trails, backcountry camping and epic views of the coast.