With picture-perfect ocean views, history, hiking, biking, and flavor galore, SLO CAL’s stretch of Highway 1 is best experienced with an open agenda ― and an open attitude. Ready to cruise the open road? Don’t miss these stops along the way.
Ragged Point, “The Million Dollar View”
This landmark stop for travelers, Ragged Point, on iconic Highway 1 features Big Sur’s steep mountainsides rushing into the sea. Towering 400 feet above the Pacific Ocean, the view from the point reveals miles of deep blue ocean, waves crashing on remote beaches, and seasonal whale watching.
San Simeon, Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle attracts visitors from around the world looking to experience the newspaper magnate’s enviable lifestyle and wonder at his impressive collection of 14th to 17th century fine and decorative European art. Although colorful at any time of year, the halls are decked with glittering holiday lights and décor from late November through December. Fall also brings the return of the seasonal evening tours, where staff dress in period costume.
Cambria’s East and West Village
Just 6 miles south of Hearst Castle, Cambria’s quaint Main Street anchors the East and West Villages, with storybook-like Victorian architecture, galleries and artists’ studios, boutique shopping and flavorful dining.
In 1872, Captain James Cass began construction of the Cayucos Pier, which provided commerce throughout the coastal communities. Today, it remains a central landmark of the area, offering fishing, strolling, watching surfers, scouting for dolphins, otters, seals, and birds. (Plus, from the pier, visitors get perhaps the best view of the annual infamous Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day.)
Los Osos/Baywood, Montaña de Oro State Park
This park features rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, including 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. Naturalists, backpackers, mountain bikers and equestrian enthusiasts enjoy the solitude, freedom and wildlife-viewing available along the park’s trails. The best-known beach is Spooner’s Cove, across from the campground, which offers both primitive and equestrian campsites.
Avila Beach, Bob Jones Trail
This “City to the Sea” paved trail is a favorite hiking, jogging and biking route that winds through the forested valley alongside San Luis Obispo Creek towards Avila Beach. Views from the trail include bridges spanning the wide creek, the Avila Beach Golf Resort, the town of Avila and the Pacific Ocean.
Oceano/Nipomo Dunes Natural Preserve
If you’re looking to explore California’s finest dune complex on foot, make your way into the Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve. Admire the rolling, wave-like dune crests and soak up that special, creative energy that drew in the Dunites. This is also a prime spot for bird-watching, wildflower spotting, and digging for rare Pismo clams (provided you have the proper gear and permits, of course). For bonus information on the Dunites, Pismo clams, the Chumash culture and more, there’s a brand-new Visitor Center for the preserve with exhibits all about Oceano.
Edna Valley/Arroyo Grande Valley Wines
Just named one of Wine Enthusiast’s top 10 wine getaway destinations, the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley’s constant refreshing breezes and warm sunshine create one of the longest growing seasons in California, ideal for crisp Chardonnay and earthy Pinot Noir. Stop into any of this American Viticultural Area’s dozens of open tasting rooms and taste what makes this region’s wines so special and renowned.