The Central Coast featuring San Luis Obispo County has been named the #4 Travel Destination in the United States by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014. Lonely Planet travel experts showcased the top 10 places in the US that should be on travelers’ radar in the coming year. As one of two California destinations, key features for San Luis Obispo County included Hwy 1, Hearst Castle and Paso Robles Wine County, which was also named Wine Region of theYear recently by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
A full itinerary developed by Lonely Planet can be viewed as the ultimate Central California Coast road trip featuring all major communities in San Luis Obispo County.
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4. Central Coast, CA
Often dismissed as flyover country between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this surreally scenic stretch of the Pacific coast is California at its best. Laid-back beach towns, sea-hugging Hwy 1 (one of the USA’s most iconic roadways), cliff-top lookouts, hidden coves, sea lion colonies and other wildlife, fantastical Hearst Castle, Spanish missions, pleasant weather (even if it’s foggy) and no crowds. Dip inland to the up-and-coming Paso Robles wine country for scenery rivaling Napa and Sonoma. Back to the coast, after gasping at the raw beauty and energy of the 100-mile stretch of craggy coastline that is Big Sur, stop at the world-renowned, ecoconscious Monterey Bay Aquarium, who celebrates their 30th birthday this year. (To beat the aquarium crowds, buy tickets in advance and arrive when the doors open. The jellyfish exhibit is otherworldly.)
Outstanding farmers markets dot the coast. Check out Santa Barbara’s on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and San Luis Obispo’s, which turns into a full-on street festival every Thursday evening.