Highway 1 Discovery Route Celebrates Wine, Waves and Wildlife Thru February
Get out to the Central Coast early because it’s going to take at least a solid month to experience all the Highway 1 Discovery Route has in store during the 4th Annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration. The Celebration runs until the end of February and includes activities such as free movies in the Hearst Castle Theatre, wilderness stewardship days and special pricing for area lodging. Coastal San Luis Obispo County, in partnership with California State Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, welcomes visitors and residents alike to explore and help tend to this sacred environment.
The Celebration shines bright at Piedras Blancas Light Station and the Point San Luis Lighthouse. Both host historical tours and guests can volunteer weekly on Tuesdays during the Point San Luis Lighthouse Restoration & Stewardship Days. Come back on Wednesday and Saturday for docent-led hikes from the beacon’s base on the Pecho Coast Trail along the rugged cliffs, into the tree-lined canyons and onto the shoreline. (Reservations are recommended for most events during the Celebration.)
Don’t worry should you miss out on the Pecho Coast Trail, you can always slip into the El Moro Elfin Forest for a two-hour docent-led nature tour or a self-guided tour. Adjacent to the Morro Bay Estuary, the diverse coastal habitat is home to more than 200 plant species as well as over 100 species of birds and scores of other animals.
If you haven’t found that missing species from your bird list yet, try the 2.5-mile boardwalk along Oso Flaco Lake from Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. A special walk is planned at 10:30 am on February 11th in honor of PBS television host and conservationist Huell Howser. Take a look into the willow and wax myrtle riparian habitat for migrating songbirds.
Should you be looking to go large with your fauna finds, head north to the elephant seals, where docents discuss the most fascinating coastal residents this side of Hearst Castle. Exploratory and Rookery Tours take place every Saturday thru February as part of the Coastal Discovery and Stewardship Celebration.
Interested in going even larger? Check out the Whale Trail, a series of vista points that look out over the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of the world’s most exceptional protected marine environments. The cluster of six sites is the largest number of spots along the Pacific Coast in the United States and the southern most point of the entire Whale Trail. 34 species of marine mammals can be seen from the shoreline or, in the case of Avila Beach, the famous Avila Pier. Follow the Whale Trail signs to spy resident orcas and migrating gray whales from San Simeon’s Cavalier Resort to the Dunes Overlook in Oceano.
Not all roads lead to pinnipeds and cetaceans on the Central California coast. The Pacific Coast Wine Trail leads oenophiles beside the ocean to 11 boutique wineries in Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, Arroyo Grande Valley, San Simeon and Ragged Point. The Wine Trail Passport Weekend, February 18-19, invites you to press a stamp from each winery and then enter a drawing to win a Wine Trail Basket with a percentage of proceeds donated to Pacific Wildlife Care.
Blend your love of wine and wildlife during Sharks After Dark in Avila Beach at the Central Coast Aquarium. Guest scientists lecture on their specific area of research paired with local wines and appetizers. You can also spend the day with the aquarium’s favorite predators during the Shark Feeding and Tour on weekends. Jellyfish also need to eat but, not to worry, you can do that too. Avila Beach is also specially designated as an official California Bird Sanctuary, and residents, visitors, and bird enthusiasts alike come together to celebrate this on Avila Beach Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Day.
After you feed the fish head inland to Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley, each offering a wine tasting experience.
You’ll find plenty of avenues to support stewardship efforts on your travels along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve Monthly Work Day occurs the morning of February 18th. The Preserve depends solely on volunteers for all of its restoration and maintenance.
The Montaña de Oro State Park & Trail chooses Super Bowl Sunday morning for its restoration day, an opportunity to tend the insanely good mountain bike trails that surround the 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. Fix up the trail then hop on a two-wheeler and head off for a luscious single-track spin. Gardeners can also plan for an active Super Bowl morn during the Native Garden Restoration & Stewardship as part of Nipomo Native Garden Volunteer Days.
Days spent along the Highway 1 Discovery Route feel almost as diverse as the adjacent coastal tide pools. Lodging options are just as colorful, with several inns and hotels offering Coastal Discovery special rates. Most rates apply throughout the entire month of February. Look for other discounts for nature tours, wine tastings and restaurants. For a chance to roam everything Highway 1 Discover Route has to offer, enter the $5,000 Best-of Getaway to win your choice of lodging, meals, craft beer, wine tastings and your favorite things to do!
The California Highway 1 Discovery Route has seen many cultural incarnations since the Chumash inhabited the area 10,000 years ago. The landscape however remains very much the same. Come join the 4th Annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration throughout the month of February to discover the spectacular Central Coast for yourself.