McWay Falls, Big Sur

Destination

Central California Coast Holidays

Picture postcard scenery and an epic coastal drive

Head out on the Original Road Trip and explore coastline of craggy cliffs and mountain peaks in the north and palm tree-lined sandy beaches and charming coves in the south. Divided into four distinct regions - Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz County there is a California Coast holiday for everyone.

Explore the tide pools along the wild sands of Crescent Beach or ride horseback along the dunes of Pismo Beach. Discover unspoilt coastlines, rolling vineyards, golden hillsides, national and state parks and world-class wine regions as well as classic beach towns. If you're searching for the real California, this is it. Not just the coastline, these regions also extend far inland, encompassing towering mountains and rolling hills and sometimes desert like landscapes too.

Santa Cruz County

South of San Mateo County on the San Francisco Peninsula, just a 40 minute drive from San Jose you can discover state parks, wineries and beaches such as Wilder Ranch State Park or try your hand at stand up paddleboarding and surfing. Visit Santa Cruz for tourist-friendly attractions at Santa Cruz Wharf. 

Monterey County

A diverse coastline of jagged cliffs and rugged beach coves in Big Sur and sandy beaches around Monterey and Carmel. Stroll along Cannery Row in Monterey, walk the Path of History where you can experience what it was ilke when Monterey served as California's capitol and be mesmorised by the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

San Luis Obispo County

Half way along the Central California Coast, with small towns spaced out along the region and often known to the locals as SloCal; San Luis Obispo County captures over 300 days of sunshine a year. With a unique microclimate, the area is diverse, yet perfect for growing world-class vines, olives, strawberries and many other produce. Tantalise your senses at a farmers market or winery, or why not combine both and take this locally farmed produce to the beach for a picnic. Hearst Castle, also known as La Cuesta Encantada or The Enchanted Hill is also a well-known visitor attraction. You will find this maginficent estate in the town of San Simeon, a few miles from Elehpant Seal Rookery.

Santa Barbara County

With a long, south-facing stretch of coast that meets the rolling hills of wine country, you can hop aboard a trolley tour in the Danish Capitol of America, Solvang during the day and have a tantalisingly tasty meal in the funk zone in the evening in Santa Barbara. Known as 'The American Riviera', this charming little city has a Mediterranean feel; stroll along Stearns Wharf and treat yourself to a sip of Sauvignon Blanc at the Conway Family Wines Deep Sea Tasting Room, while admiring the beautiful views of Santa Barbara and the ocean or ride the Santa Barbara Trolley visiting Spanish-style architecture and the historic Santa Barbara Mission. 

Take a boat trip out to the Channel Islands National Park where its astounding beauty will take your breath away. Lookout for dolphinsm whales and other local wildlife and kayak through sea-caves around the islands.

Ventura County

Often overlooked, this region is at the southern end of the Central California Coast, but this only adds to its charm. Stroll along a wooden pier and old-fashioned main street in Ventura that has a small town feel, jump into the array of water activities or relax on beaches like Malibu; home to the rich and famous.

With this beautiful stretch of coastline, there is something for everyone; so all that's left to do is start planning your Central California Coast holiday now.

Destination Highlights
  • Discover hidden beaches
  • Sip Pinot Noir in the Santa Ynez Valley
  • Drive the twisting, cliff hugging roads through Big Sur
  • Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Stroll through redwood trees
  • Look for sea otters and elephant seals
Essential Information
See Practical Information
  • Time Zone GMT -8 hours
  • Currency USD - US DOllar
  • Visa Information Ensure you have a valid ESTA prior to travel
  • Language English
  • Flight Time Approx. 11 hours; direct flights from the UK are available
  • Health Information No special vaccinations are required for travel to California

Top Tips from our Experts

Matthew

Destination Specialist

"To drive the Pacific Highway 1, hiring a convertible is a must! Top down, wind in your hair, sunshine on your face - it didn't get more Californian than this. I would also recommend driving from north to south, so you have unobstructed ocean views as you twist and curve your way along this amazing drive."

Omkar

Destination Specialist

"Check out Cayucos State Beach for a charming little beach town. Pick up some fresh baked cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co. and relax on the large stretch of sandy beach."

Mel

Destination Specialist

"Head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a family fun day out. They have some incredible exhibits - I especially love the sea otters, as they are so playful and cute to watch."

Types of Central California Coast holidays

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway 1

Central California Coast Multi Centre Holidays

Multi Centre Holidays
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway 1

Self Drive Central California Coast

Self Drive Central California Coast

Frequently Asked Questions

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