California Dreaming Along the Central Coast


Travel with Terri

Story and Photos by Terri Marshall


From the first time I visited California I was hooked. The beaches—so unlike the ones I grew up with in Florida—intrigued me. The landscapes dazzled me and the cities from San Diego to Los Angeles to San Francisco quickly gained a place in my heart as favorites. But there’s one particular region that I recently became more acquainted with: California’s Central Coast. And it’s a winner in my book. From farm-to-table goodness, to whale watching in the Channel Islands National Park to laid back seaside towns and a dazzling mansion, here are some of the reasons California’s Central Coast is absolutely dreamy.

Central California Coastal Attractions
Central California Coast in Oxnard

Explore World Class Farm-To-Table Dining In Oxnard

You’d have to put your table in the middle of the fields to get food any fresher than the farm-to-table dining scene in Oxnard. Chef Gabriel Garcia and his team at Tierra Sur (situated inside Herzog Wine Cellars) take advantage of the bounty of fresh produce available creating fabulous seasonal menus from ingredients sourced from the local farmers. Tierra Sur has the highest ZAGAT ratings in Ventura County. And that’s just one of many restaurants in town that will keep your taste buds happy.

The city is known for an abundance of impossibly sweet strawberries. The strawberries are celebrated each May during the annual California Strawberry Festival which is one of the top food festivals in the country.

Central California Coastal Attractions
Channel Islands in Central California

Explore America’s Galapagos in the Channel Islands National Park

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 resources 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.

Central California Coastal Attractions
Views from the Pismo Preserve Hiking Trail

Explore The Brand New Trails Of Pismo Beach Preserve

Pismo Preserve is the newest hiking, biking and equestrian trail system for the southern coast of San Luis Obispo County—so new it’s still under construction. 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 2018, pre-scheduled docent led hikes, equestrian rides and mountain bike rides are now available to the public.

Central California Coastal Attractions
The Morro Bay Welcoming Committee

Catch the Laid Back Seaside Vibe Of Morro Bay

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.

Rising from the waters of Morro Bay, the iconic Morro Rock provides the backdrop for year-round recreational activities. Choose from 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. There’s even a small but very cool skateboarding museum in town where you climb onto the world’s second largest board. 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.

Central California Coastal Attractions
The Hearst Castle

Explore the Jaw-Dropping Grandeur of Hearst Castle

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 dazzling.

I’d been to the Hearst Castle once many years ago and one of the things that really impressed me then and now was the 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—real 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?

Central California Coastal Attractions
The Pool at Hearst Castle

There’s so much more to explore along California’s Central Coast—it’s sure to have you humming California Dreamin’ right along with the Mamas and Papas