Photo source: Wikipedia Commons
Los Angeles and San Francisco typically top the list of must see places in California, but the central coast between the two cities has some gems everyone should visit. It’s laid back California living with plenty to offer the entire family.
When the tables are just steps from the farms, it doesn’t get any fresher. Oxnard is known for an abundance of impossibly sweet strawberries that are celebrated in May during the annual California Strawberry Festival, which is among the top food festivals in the country. Year round, Oxnard has a world class farm to table dining scene. Situated inside Herzog Wine Cellars, Tierra Sur is one of the best. Thanks to Chef Gabriel Garcia and his team who create fabulous seasonal menus from ingredients sourced from the local farmers, the restaurant has the highest ZAGAT ratings in Ventura County.
Located just 11 miles off the coast of Oxnard, the Channel Islands are often referred to as America’s Galapagos. Thousands of years of isolation has created unique plants, animals and archaeological discoveries unlike any other on earth.
A quick boat ride from Oxnard, the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary provides a wealth of recreational opportunities and exploration of nature through hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. A whale watching tour between the coastline and the Channel Islands is an ideal way to spot Pacific Gray Whales as they migrate from December through mid-April and the massive Blue Whales as they travel June through September.
If you’re looking for a laid back seaside getaway with an abundance of outdoor recreation options and oysters fresh from the water, Morro Bay is your town. This is a place where sea otters frolic in the waters munching on shellfish they work hard to remove from the shells. Seals lounge about on the piers barking their hellos and whales are often spotted migrating from north to south and back again.
The iconic Morro Rock rising from the waters of Morro Bay provides the backdrop for year-round recreational activities including stand up paddle boarding, boat cruises, bicycling, kayaking and golf. A Morro Bay Adventure Pass gives you access to all the recreation options for a reduced price. And when you’re ready for oysters, head to Tognazzini’s Dockside where an abundance of oysters are served fresh from the waters of Morro Bay.
Pismo Preserve is the newest hiking, biking and equestrian trail system for the southern coast of San Luis Obispo County. Boasting 900 acres of ranchland, the Pismo Preserve has sweeping views of the Central California Coast. Originally slated for residential development, the prized property was saved when the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo stepped in and raised more than $12 million in less than six months. The massive fund raising effort combined with over 6,300 volunteer hours by the citizens of San Luis Obispo County have created a haven for recreation along the coastline. Although the full opening for the Pismo Preserve won’t happen until late 2017, pre-scheduled docent led tours, hikes, and equestrian and mountain bike rides will be open to the general public by the end of 2016.
Perched on a hill high above the Central California coastline, the former home of publishing magnate, William Randolph Hearst is stunning inside and out. The views from the property overlook miles of unspoiled coastline. From the manicured gardens, to intricate tapestries covering the interior walls to a collection of over 20,000 sculptures, paintings and collectibles, the Hearst Castle is stunning.
I'd been to the Hearst Castle once many years ago and one of the things that really impressed me then and now was this spectacular Roman pool. Decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses & heroes, the entire pool from ceiling to floor to the bottom of the pool is covered with one inch square blue mosaic tiles fused with gold. Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplain, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant and Joan Crawford were just a few of Hearst’s famous guests. Can you imagine the pool parties here?
Have you explored California’s Central Coast? What were your favorite experiences?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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