The stretch of coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles plays host to one of the world’s most famous self-drive routes – State Route 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway. Pass towns such as Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea before heading in to the most spectacular region of all – Big Sur. Here the twisting road hugs the hillsides and cliffs that dip down to the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
California's Central Coast holiday highlights
It is standard practice for resorts/hotels within the USA to charge a mandatory resort fee which is payable locally. This fee can be anywhere between 5USD to 40 USD per room per night and is not included in the cost of your Kuoni holiday.
Situated two hours south of San Francisco, Monterey has a world-famous aquarium and the historic Cannery Row. The town served as the Californian capital of both Spain and Mexico and it was here in 1846 that the American flag was raised over the Custom House as the United States of America claimed California as its own. Numerous historic monuments, such as the Custom House and the Royal Presido Chapel, can be witnessed as well as the famous Cannery Row.
With deep roots as a Bohemian destination and a particularly artistic history, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint and charming city with a slow pace of life. Situated approximately 120 miles south of San Francisco, this settlement was home to many writers, poets and artists in the early 20th Century, and even today Carmel is still infused with an infectious artistic ambience. Ocean Avenue the main centre of Carmel has many interesting art galleries, quaint shops and it also leads to a pristine white sandy beach.
Stretching from the Carmel River in the north, the San Carpoforo Creek in the south, and stretching inland into the Santa Lucia mountains, the region of Big Sur is the real treasure of Route 1. Its name derives from the Spanish settlers who dubbed this uncharted environment the ‘Big Country of the South’. Following World War II the region saw a boom in visitor numbers and to this day it welcomes travellers from all over the world. Due to poor road and weather conditions sections of Route 1 are often closed resulting in lengthy detours.
Tiny San Luis Obispo County is an all-too-easy-to-miss California microcosm sandwiched between the twin passageways of Highway 1 and Route 101. However, we think you should look a little closer as this sleepy corner is the authentic California of your imagination and deserves your time and attention. Travelling south from Big Sur on iconic Highway 1, you’ll pass unmissable landmarks like historic Hearst Castle and spectacular Morro Rock, you’ll pass through cutesy market towns like well-to-do San Luis Obisbo and sleepy Cambria. You’ll stumble across fabulously Californian beach towns like Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, the latter particularly renowned as one of California’s best sea otter spots. Take a short detour inland and you’ll stumble across one of California’s finest wine regions at Paso Robles, here dozens of amazing wineries are scattered amongst the delightful rolling scenery. California has it all, and SLO has most of that too.
The coastal city of Santa Barbara has a real Spanish charm combined with a relaxed pace of life. Sometimes referred to as the ‘American Riviera’, this former Spanish mission has a collection of delightful neighbourhoods. Enjoy the relaxed beach vibe in The Mesa, where you can catch some rays or breaks on the Mesa Lane or Thousand Steps beaches. The Waterfront offers visitors a number of restaurants and bars while Lower State Street is home to the thriving nightlife destination of Stearns Wharf.