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The Central Coast offers everything you'd wish for from a California holiday – sunsets over the Pacific, National Parks, world-class wine areas and beach towns. If that’s not enough then there are plentiful opportunities for surfing, water-skiing, golfing, shopping, art shows and a whole lot more. Head to Santa Cruz, home to world-famous surf spot, Mavericks.

Why not visit a collection of wineries located in the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains, followed by a bite to eat in the town of Los Gatos? Explore Monterey’s quaint and upmarket neighbourhoods, perfect for a spot of designer shopping. Or perhaps head out on the Pacific in search of grey whales that migrate through these waters off the coast of Monterey.

Spend the day exploring Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once Mayor. Visit the lively college town of San Luis Obispo, where you can discover the historic Mission and browse through public art along the meandering river. Take a stroll along Pismo Beach and enjoy stunning sunset views. Don't forget the Santa Ynez Valley, a leading wine region that sits behind Santa Barbara which is home to stunning wineries and plentiful shopping opportunities for you to indulge in.

Top 5 Experiences

  • The world-class Monterey Aquarium on the waterfront at Cannery Row is highly recommended. You should also consider booking a behind the scenes guided tour.
  • Hearst Castle is an awe-inspiring castle in the hills, half way along the coast. Stop here to see where Hollywood came to party in the Twenties.
  • The Channel Islands, just off the coast, are a great day trip to get away from it all, and offer the chance of seeing whales, dolphins and other marine life.
  • For an amazing dining experience, visit The Ventana Grill on Pismo beach. This upmarket modern restaurant offers stunning views perched on the cliffs overlooking the beach.
  • The Urban Wine Trail in Santa Barbara is a great way to go wine tasting without driving out to the vineyards.

Sightseeing & Tours

  • Monterey Independent Bike Tour – Discover the shimmering waters, dramatic coastline and relaxed vibe of Monterey on this 4-hour bike tour. From £23pp.
  • Surfing Lessons in Santa Barbara – Learn to surf in beautiful Santa Barbara, with an expert instructor showing you how to ride the perfect wave. From £57pp.
  • Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour – Enjoy the beautiful sights of Santa Barbara, including the historic Mission and State Street while riding an easy-to-use electric bike. From £64pp.

Key Attractions

  • Highway I and Big Sur
  • Fisherman's Wharf & Cannery Row
  • Hearst Castle, near San Simeon
  • Santa Barbara Mission
  • The Boardwalk and Big Dipper Rollercoaster, Santa Cruz
  • Outdoor adventure at the Channel Islands