Travel Guide to California

2017 Travel Guide to California

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98 2 0 1 7 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A B Y J I L L K . R O B I N S O N S outhern California may get prime beach town attention, but it's California's Central Coast region that has it all, except for the crowds vying for each sandy square foot. The string of small beach towns that line the coast south of Big Sur to Santa Barbara are the perfect place to learn to chill-out like a local, get some fun and sun, escape the hustle and bustle, and sample some of the best food and wine in California. The Santa Barbara area is the Central Coast's largest population center, and it lures travelers with its white Spanish-style buildings, red-tiled roofs, vast beaches, plenty of fine arts venues, bright boutiques, outdoor adven- tures, culinary tastes and an inland region (the Santa Ynez Valley, featured in the movie Sideways) known for wine and Santa Maria-style barbecue. Visitors to the area can see hulking elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, relax in the sleepy beach towns of Cayucos and Morro Bay, tour hilltop Hearst Castle, or find some fun in college-town San Luis Obispo. The old- fashioned piers of Avila Beach and Pismo Beach are ideal spots to take a tasty meal break with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Ventura's Mission San Buenaventura is the last of the California missions founded by Junípero Serra. The oceanside town is also a gateway for adventures in Channel Islands National Park, considered "California's Galápagos," with tide pools, kelp forests and unique flora and fauna species. Even though the Central Coast region's main highlight is indeed, its coast, the varied geography and moderate climate ensure that there are S.BORISOV/SHUTTERSTOCK . OPPOSITE: N.MINTON/SHUTTERSTOCK ; SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY CVB CENTRAL COAST TOP CITIES Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Morro Bay, Cambria, Ventura, Lompoc, Solvang, Buellton, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Camarillo, Oxnard, Port Hueneme INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 98 miles (158 km) from Santa Barbara; 192 miles (309 km) from San Luis Obispo TOURISM WEBSITES POPULATION 1,542,000 CENTRAL COAST Endless beaches without the crowds

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