One of my favorite road trips in central California is what I call my anytime of the year trip, “Santa Barbara to San Simeon” driving along the Pacific Coast Highway and 101, nice and slow, stopping at all the great places along the way. Pulling into Santa Barbara, the American Riviera, my first stop was the Santa Barbara Visitors Center located at 1 Garden St. at Cabrillo Boulevard.These helpful and kind people are a wealth of information to start your visit! There is free-WiFi at the center. Or you can “Visit Santa Barbara” and plan your trip, off of your computer or phone!
A few recommendations for your DINING experience are;
Lucky’s occupies a building complex originally constructed as the Montecito Bungalows back in 1926 when Coast Village Road was part of Highway 1, the original Pacific Coast Highway. Lucky’s has been honoring the classic American steakhouse tradition since 2000. If you’re looking to impress your wife, while the kids are at the hotel with a babysitter, this is the place! A fine dining experience $$$. Visit Lucky’s website for more information on their menu and history!
BOATHOUSE at Hendry’s Beach- One of the best hidden secrets in Santa Barabara! However, beware, it’s on the beach, so there is limited parking. Parking is free. Call ahead for reservations to save on aggravation! This is my favorite restaurant dining and location in Santa Barbara for the price and spectacular view of the ocean. For the many times I’ve travelled to Santa Barbara, I never knew about this place until someone at the Santa Barbara Visitors Center mentioned it! IPA Magazine will be back!! The Management and staff are wonderful at the Boathouse. They frequent the tables to make sure everyone is happy and enjoying their dining experience!
A Victorian treasure in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, The Upham Hotel and Country House is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Santa Barbara, Southern California. Constructed of redwood with sweeping verandas, the 50-room 1871 landmark is surrounded by an acre of gardens and combines the intimacy of a bed and breakfast with the convenience of a full-service hotel and conference facility. Visit their website for more information on their accommodations.
The Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort
This beautiful resort offers a breathtaking location for a vacation getaway. The Fess Parker – A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort is right in the heart of Santa Barbara’s beach area and less than two miles from the activity and culture of downtown. Satillo-tiled sidewalks line State Street, home to numerous galleries, studios, theaters, shops, boutiques and restaurants. At the resort you are bound to find beautifully landscaped gardens, graceful arches, ocean view patios and many other ideal settings. Visit the website for more information on accommodations.
The West Beach Inn, Santa Barbara
One of several beachfront hotels in the city, located between the Marina and Stern’s Wharf, the most popular destination in Santa Barbara. All rates include a deluxe continental breakfast, evening wine and cheese, and turn-down service with mints. The pool and spa are both heated, and parking is free. The Complimentary High-speed Wireless is available property-wide. All Guest rooms went through a major renovation in the summer of 2007.Visit the West Beach Inn website for more information on lodging.
ENTERTAINMENT – in Santa Barbara, Ca.
The ‘FUNK ZONE’ – an ecclectic, fun experience. Converted warehouses and buildings decorated with graffiti murals and contemporary art pieces set the tone for this hopping section of town. Surfboard shapers, winemakers and up-and-coming chefs all practice their crafts here.To find out more, click on FUNK ZONE…
My first stop, was the Santa Barbara Winery. I sampled their award winning, 2013 PinotNoir, that won a Gold Medal in a Wine competition. It was so delicious I had to buy a bottle. They’ve sold over 50,000 cases of the Pinot Noir. Other tasty samples; 2013 Syrah, 2013 Cabernet Savignon, and the 2012 Petite Syrah, Santa Barbara. Visit their website for more information.
Channel Islands National Park – Sea Cave Kayaking Tour
Explore Channel Islands National Park on a day tour or Multi-day camping and Kayaking Trip.This beloved California destination is renowned for incredible island kayaking, native wildlife, fantastic snorkeling and hiking opportunities. With knowledgeable guides and the Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center, limitless discovery awaits. Highlights: Whale watching on the boat ride, incredible Channel Islands kayaking, Channel Islands National Park visitors center, hiking, camping options, amazing island experience. Painted Cave Kayak and Snorkel Excursion- Visit the Channel Islands on this Amazing Day Tour to Painted Cave. Depart from Santa Barbara Harbor and enjoy breakfast on the charter boat ride to Santa Cruz Island. Once at the island, prepare for world class kayaking. Kayak into Painted Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the World. Keep an eye out for sea lions, dolphins, whales and eagles. Guests can snorkel before departing to the mainland and eating a hot lunch on the boat ride home. Hot showers available on the boat. A fun day trip for everyone in your group! Santa Barbara Harbor – Coastal Kayak Tour A relaxing day of paddling along the Santa Barbara waterfront. harbor. People love this paddle because of the relaxed pace and incredible marine life as well as taking in the views of town from the water. Refugio State Beach – Coastal Kayaking Tour A perfect day of kayaking, swimming and fun. The Gaviota Coast is one of the few remaining sections of undeveloped, open coastline in California. Meet at Refugio State Beach. Once outfitted, your guide will offer a thorough kayaking lesson on shore. The tour is a total of 3 miles, stopping in pristine kelp beds to learn about Marine Ecology and the Santa Barbara Channel. Surfing Lessons in Santa Barbara. Come enjoy a day of Surfing and Fun at a local beach. The Santa Barbara coastline offers several fun locations for introductory surfing lessons. Santa Barbara Adventure Company’s surfing trips are a great foundation to this exciting sport, focusing on the fundamentals reading water, paddling, etiquette, catching waves and riding. Trip includes wetsuit, surfboard, instructor and lunch on the beach! Tasty Cupcake and Wine Tour. Explore Santa Ynez on a full day tour of wine and tasty treats. Group rates available. Come Experience the Original Cupcake & Wine Tour! Savor a yummy cupcake tasting featuring 6 mini cupcakes. This tour features wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley, deli style lunch at one of your favorite wineries and a friendly guide for the day.
And as if all of the suggested entertainment is not enough, there are 20 Museums to visit, Botanical Gardens, an Urban Wine Trail, and over 20 wine tasting rooms. One of the things I really enjoyed was the Santa Barbara Trolley. Rob Reith was a great tour guide. He’s lived in the city since he was a young boy, and he knows everything you’d want to know about Santa Barbara and more! See the American Riviera in 90 minutes or jump off and on ALL DAY! For 30 years, they’ve been providing trolley tours in the Santa Barbara community. Join them as you visit local hot spots such as the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Santa Barbara Zoo, Museum of Natural History, the historic Santa Barbara Mission, and more, all fully narrated by their energetic and knowledgeable tour guides! Or, charter the newly renovated fleet of trolleys for your wedding, party or corporate event. Get a sneak peek of some of the Tour Highlights to get a glimpse at what Santa Barbara Trolley has to offer. Click here. Hours & Prices : 90-minute Tours run daily from 1 Garden Street on the hour everyday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. One FREE child (12 & under), with Adult Pass: $22, Additional Child Pass: $8.
If you’re into nice, scenic bike trails, you can start in downtown Santa Barbara and ride all the way through the University of Santa Barbara on a nice bike path. Plenty of places to watch a beautiful sunset along the way. And last, but not least, before leaving Santa Barbara and heading up the coast, you’ve got to visit some of the beaches and get your toes in the sand. While Santa Barbara is well known for its expansive, pristine beaches, it has just as much space to offer inland as well. Santa Barbara’s beaches and parks are a testiment to the city’s affinity for fresh air and outdoor fun. Starting at the Pacific, Santa Barbara is home to miles of public beaches, many of which serve as a launch pad for making a splash. Surf some of the most renowned breaks in the world, or stand-up paddleboard in the protected waters of Butterfly Bay in Montecito. Cabrillo Boulevard connects East and West Beach, which are hot spots for pick-up volleyball games, picnics, and an afternoon date with a good book. Catch the art fair every Sunday. A few steps inland, SB becomes a treasure trove of green parks, public gardens, and hidden sanctuaries — the city is home to over 50 of them. Chase Palm Park makes the sand-to-grass transition easy with its location across from East Beach. It also offers free family-friendly concerts throughout the summer. Stow Grove Park in Goleta features redwoods and eucalyptus trees, volleyball courts, a baseball diamond and horseshoe pits, making it the perfect stop for the entire family. Other favorites include Alameda Park, which is home to an elaborate 8,000-square foot playground, and Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, where you’ll see turtles cruising through the pond, and beautifully manicured gardens — a wedding favorite.
One look and it’s easy to see why Santa Barbara makes being outside a priority, and staying out a must.
Don’t forget, you must see the Santa Barbara County Courthouse! The tour of the courthouse can be done by a guide or at your own pace. To me, it was more like visiting a Museum. A lot of really cool art and design and a lot of history behind every wall. The courthouse became a State historic landmark in May of 2005. Take my advice and get to the top of the bell tower, because there is a fantastic panoramic view of Santa Barbara from the top! For hours of operation and tours, please visit their site.
Let’s head over to SOLVANG, while we’re still close, because we don’t want to miss this quaint, Danish village! The sight of so much beauty in one town is enough inspiration for vacations in Solvang. Solvang, California is a historic town – really a Danish village filled with a little something for everyone. Spend some time here, check out the Solvang hotel deals.
Some lodging suggestions are, The Wine Valley Inn & Cottages where you discover the old-world charm of Wine Valley Inn & Cottages, premier among Solvang hotels. Stay minutes from a wide offering of local wineries, boutique shops and authentic Danish cuisine, then return to find cottages, chateaus or deluxe Village Tower spaces amid graceful windmills. Whether traveling as a large group or vacationing couple, experience the distinct spirit and appeal of the Wine Valley Inn.
Explore your choice of more than 70 acclaimed wineries and vineyards near our enticing lodging in Solvang, CA. Stay only moments from the shops and dining of Solvang Village and a variety of outdoor pursuits including golfing, fishing, boating and more. History buffs will love the Mission Santa Ines or Elverhoj Museum, while others will try their luck at the Chumash Indian Casino. Then, there is the Hadsten House Inn, an affordable location for the family. Uniquely appointed guest rooms feature classic French furnishings, decorative fireplaces and lavish amenities.Centrally located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley wine country, walking distance to Solvang’s world famous shopping and bakeries, they offer a free shuttle to the Chumash Casino allowing you to choose the vacation you desire. If you prefer to stay in, all rooms include the very popular free breakfast buffet. You may choose to rejuvenate by selecting one of the spa suites or relax in Solvang’s the only heated indoor swimming pool. Need more relaxation? Haven Day spa provides a variety of soothing spa treatments in our on-site facility.
Here are some suggestions courtesy of the Solvang Visitors Bureau:
Family Friendly Activities – Solvang’s quaint old-world European fairytale feel and friendly Danish hospitality offers a relaxing peaceful atmosphere for those away from home. Look for many photo ops to share with family and friends near and far, as you explore playgrounds, skateboard parks, and tennis courts in the three kid-friendly parks in Solvang. Taste of Solvang has become a destination event for food and wine lovers, alike. Featuring something for everyone – from farm-to-table, rustic Italian cuisine; New American and modern Danish fare; sweets in all forms; to award-winning beers, spirits and world-class wines – Taste of Solvang offers a “menu” of events that is sure to please! Solvang offers more than 150 one-of-a-kind shops where you can discover trendy styles and impeccable service. Explore high-end boutiques, European imports and art galleries as you create wonderful memories as you enjoy your shopping experiences in the Danish Village of Solvang, “Little Denmark.”
Explore Wine Country –Are you a wine lover? We are home to some of the finest wine tasting rooms. Home to 18+ wine tasting rooms in the peaceful Danish Village of Solvang and 100+ wineries in Santa Ynez Valley. If you love to travel and do any central coast travel do not miss the Santa Ynez Valley with the quaint towns of Los Olivos, Ballard, Buellton and Santa Ynez. We are in the middle of Santa Barbara wine country, home of the Santa Barbara Vintners. Solvang Julefest- One of the top 10 most “Christmassy” towns in America! Enjoy a variety of delightful lights and spirited events during its annual Julefest (Yule-Fest) every December. Solvang Danish Days -Danish Heritage Festival – September 16 – 18, 2016. Little Denmark! Admission to Solvang Danish Days is free! Solvang Danish Days includes three parades, folk dancers and Danish musicians performing around town, plus other feature events on Saturday evening: the Danish Days Dinner Dance, including live music and dancing; the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Street Party”, also featuring live music, and much more! Outdoor Activities- Ride a Segway, visit Ostrichland and a miniature horse ranch, try an ATV or jeep tour of the scenic hillsides, go horseback riding, pedal a surrey bike around town, take a hike in the national forest and rent a boat on Lake Cachuma. Take the kids for a fun afternoon at Sunny Fields Park in Solvang. Entertainment & Attractions- Those looking for musical entertainment, will find choices from live bands and solo artists in wine & beer tasting rooms to top performers at the Chumash Casino, Nashville Nights and Tales from the Tavern. Wine connoisseurs enjoy Winemaker Dinners, horse and sports enthusiasts love the Polo Classics. Theater goers welcome the summer season live theater at Solvang Festival Theater where world-class musicals are performed. Golfing in Solvang- Like to golf? You will love Solvang! With five golf courses nearby and excellent temperate climate year-round, you can golf almost every single day of the year here. Enjoy the scenic rolling hills, stunning views of the Santa Ynez River valley and California live oaks in a beautiful natural environment. Museums & California Missions- With the historical diversity of the Central Coast of California, from Danish history and heritage to motorcycles, California missions to natural history and nature art museums, to native American and western heritage to oil memorabilia, you are sure to find attention-grabbing places to visit.
Pea Soup Andersen’s, serving over two million bowls of pea soup a year ! Everything is made fresh daily, from the kitchen to your table. Few restaurants in the United States have been so warmly accepted over the years as the far-famed “Pea Soup Andersen’s”. It started in the little town of Buellton, California just north of Santa Barbara and has a second famous location in Santa Nella off Interstate 5 at Hwy 33 in the Central Valley south of Stockton. What magic has attracted millions of people to its tables? Why do travelers, who have once visited Andersen’s make a point of returning, though they must drive miles after hunger begs them to stop? The delicious Pea Soup? Yes, but it’s much more than that, for Pea Soup Andersen’s has a spirit of wholesome family warmth which draws people again and again through its doors. Long time “Pea Soup-ers” whose families brought them first to Andersen’s are now bringing their children and their grandchildren!
Heading up Highway 101, my pick for the next stop is PISMO BEACH, CA.
With the sun in the sky and sand between your toes, spring is the perfect time to visit Pismo Beach! Make the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel your home base from which you explore the area’s many vineyard harvest festivals, and of course, gorgeous beaches. Then retreat to the 5-acre oceanfront bluff with unique beach access and enjoy the most beautiful sunsets that California has to offer. The hotel boasts stylish retro-modern guestrooms, high quality and super friendly customer service, free Wi-Fi Internet in every room, and a complimentary continental breakfast. Just minutes away from award-winning golf courses, the best wine tasting in California, the Pismo Beach sand dunes, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. In the evening, walk downtown to Pismo’s Restaurant Row and Pier shops, or cozy up next to one of the many fire pits and enjoy a fresh-baked cookie.Visit the website for more information on lodging.
Splash Cafe, Pismo Beach
Splash Cafe Pismo Beach is one of the oldest Pismo Beach Restaurants. A popular destination since 1989 and one of the busiest restaurants on the coast, they serve more Clam Chowder at this location in one year than most other Pismo Beach seafood Restaurants serve in their lifetime-over 30,000 gallons of Clam Chowder per year! This restaurant is a Pismo Beach landmark; it’s the place that truly represents Pismo Beach. Click here to read more about Splash Cafe Pismo Beach.
McLintock’s Saloon and Dining House- In an ocean-view setting right on Highway 101, F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining House offers the best in authentic ranch-style cooking and atmosphere teamed up with high-spirited service and genuine western hospitality. Legendary oak-pit barbecued steaks and ribs are the finest, but fresh seafood and salads are a specialty too! Check out their website for menus and location!
Please visit www.ClassicCalifornia.com or pick up a Pismo Beach Visitors Guide for complete details on the many wonderful attributes Pismo Beach has to offer including activities, events, lodging, dining and much more. We hope you enjoy your visit and take home wonderful memories of our Classic California beach town!
Let’s keep going to MORRO BAY, CA.
About Morro Bay…..This seaside fishing village with bustling waterfront offers a picture perfect getaway for travelers who seek food, wine and outdoor adventures found in a gorgeous natural setting. Located along coastal Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County just south of Big Sur, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay offers year round activities in an unspoiled slice of California. Recently named as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, outdoor activities are a way of life. From ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, and bird watching, to kite flying, shopping, dining, wine bars, local craft brews and miles of unspoiled beaches, there is something for everyone.Sitting majestically between the beach and the harbor lays the iconic and historic landmark Morro Rock, welcoming travelers from miles away as they approach Morro Bay. Located just minutes from world-renowned Hearst Castle, historic missions, breathtaking Montana de Oro State Park, and surrounded by vineyards from Paso Robles to Edna Valley.
Morro Bay is a destination designed to fit any style and budget for families, couples or groups. Morro Bay also offers a myriad of year-round events including food, wine and music festivals, art fairs and car shows unique to the town. For more travel information visit Morro Bay or follow Morro Bay on its Facebook, twitter or Pinterest pages.
Morro Bay, CA, February 9, 2015 – Motel owners in Morro Bay, CA have created a contagious spirit of lodging revival in this quaint fishing town located on the Central Coast of California along scenic Highway 1. A motor court building boom during the 50s and 60s in California created a boon in tourism in many cities like Morro Bay that offered vacationers access to expansive beaches, a busting harbor, boutique shops, restaurants, fresh seafood and abundant wildlife. Now, what was once passé and dated is now novel and boutique in Morro Bay as many of these classic properties receive smart renovations and are thriving in this California beach community.Recently, Morro Bay journalist Ruth Ann Angus conducted some interviews with local motel owners to dig a little deeper into this motel revitalization. Some of the lodging I’d recommend are: John and Joan Solu have completed a successful renovation to the nearby motor court property Beach Bungalow Inn & Suites and were familiar with the process. Joan said, allowing for their guests to decide on longer stays. “Our idea for this property was for guests to pull up in their cars and see the classic motor court motel and be pleasantly surprised,” Joan said, “It’s so cute – it’s so California!”
Another suggested lodge is the Days Inn. 1095 Main Street, Morro Bay, CA 805-772-2711. An upgraded, lovely Inn with views of the water is the Embarcadero Inn ,456 Embarcadero Blvd, Morro Bay, CA 93442 (805)-772-2700. Bayfront Inn, 1150 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA (805)-772-5607. For more details on where to stay in Morro Bay, please visit Morro Bay.
Continuing up the California coast to SAN SIMEON, CA.
Courtesy Inn, San Simeon – Affordable place to stay
Situated midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco along the California coastline, the Hearst Castle San Simeon Historical Monument attracts visitors from around the world. If you are planning a visit to the Castle or just coming to the Central Coast to get away and relax, the Courtesy Inn is “THE PLACE TO STAY”. Stay at the Courtesy Inn and see why they were voted the “Best Indoor Pool” in all of San Simeon. The Courtesy Inn offers a grand facility that includes the only outdoor tennis courts in San Simeon, heated indoor swimming pool and spa, and a banquet meeting space. And the rooms are the largest and cleanest in San Simeon. The hotel is within walking and short driving distance to many restaurants, lounges, shops, exquisite art galleries and award winning wineries.Please don’t hesitate to ask our friendly staff for help in planning your stay with us. We’ll do all we can to make your visit to the coast a memorable one. Please join us and allow us to make your fantasy a reality. Feel free to call us at 1-800-555-5773 and make your reservations. Visit their website.
San Simeon Lodge
Whether you are looking for a spot near the beach, a pool, or free wi-fi internet access, San Simeon Lodge has the amenities you are looking for! There is a Restaurant and Bar offering ocean views from every table.The restaurant offers outside dining to enjoy the view and sounds of the ocean. The refreshing breeze of the wind is perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.The menu has varies fresh foods from exquisite appetizers, to fulfilling main courses, and tasty desserts. In addition, the restaurant is well known for premium steaks, seafood, and our diverse selections of wines. There is also a heated pool, which is open from 8:00a.m.-10:00p.m. daily. They offer some of the best rooms. There are 4 different types of rooms, which all include:Coffee Maker, Mini Fridge, Iron & Ironing Board, Premium TV Channels, Wi-Fi, Flat Screen TV. A gym and health club in case you need to work out. A full gym is open from 7:00a.m.-10:00p.m. daily.
They offer a public computer and printer, available for your needs located at the front desk from 7:00am to 10:00 pm daily.Visit San Simeon Lodge for more information on lodging and location.
It all started on November 25, 1990, when two dozen northern elephant seals were spotted in the small cove near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. Every year after that the seals returned, growing in population each time. Today more than 17,000 elephant seals that call the Piedras Blancas rookery home, migrating thousands of miles to this secluded sandy beach twice per year.
The best times to visit the rookery are in late January, late April, and late October, but visitors are welcome all year long, and docents are on-hand to provide information about elephant seal breeding, birthing and molting—all of which take place on this San Simeon beach.
Get up close and personal with a few of San Simeon’s most famous residents. See their activity right now on a webcam, then plan your trip to see the elephant seals today. Click here for more information. From Hearst Castle, drive north along California Highway 101 for approximately 4 miles, and park in the beach parking lot.
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Ca. – the majestic Mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean!!
Some of the history of Hearst Castle, began in 1865 when George Hearst, a self-made millionaire purchased many acres of farmland. In 1919, his son William Randolph Hearst inherited the property that had grown to 250,000 acres. In 1947 Hearst hired architect Julia Morgan and created, ‘Hearst Castle’ with 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. Some of the areas to see while there are the 2 pools, the wine cellar, and the gardens. Renown works of art are seen in the castle; collections from all around the world. Some of the guests of the castle included Hollywood actors, influential politicians, notable historic figures.
One of my favorite times to visit the Hearst Castle State Park is during Christmas. Around the end of November through the end of December, the Hearst Castle is decorated in holiday splendor. This gives us all a chance to tour the Estate and view it as Mr. Hearst guests did back in the 1920’s and 1930’s, throughout the Christmas season. You will see large outdoor wreaths and huge towering Christmas trees in many of the large social rooms. The Hearst Castle staff goes out of their way, to carry on the historic tradition of Christmas decorating at the Estate.
Please visit the website at Hearst Castle. My first attempt to complete this article at the Hearst Castle was in the summer of 2016. Due to extreme forest fires surrounding the Castle, I had to abandon my research and at the time I was told, rescue efforts were being made to preserve the art at the Castle, as the fire was within 3 miles of this precious historical monument. Even my stay in Santa Barbara and research there was hampered by a huge billowing smoke cloud that engulfed the town. As a West coast writer and travel journalist, I’m thankful that this particular stretch of coastline has been preserved thanks to our heroic firefighters and crews that continue to preserve our forests and parks year after year. All this to say, always check the road conditions before making this particular trip as mudslides, forest fires, etc., can bring road closures at a moments notice. I would like to give special thanks at this point to Jim Allen, Director of Marketing and Communications for all of his helpful information in helping us complete this travel article.