Road Trip through the Central Coast: 3 Must-See Destinations

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We love an early summer road trip, don’t you? Long days and mild weather makes for a lot of options to choose from, especially in sunny California. Remember when Donna and Alan took their coastal California road trip? But there’s always more to see in this beautiful part of the U.S. Guest contributor, Susan Guillory from The Unexplorer, recently took a trip through California and is here to tell us about her experiences on a Central Coast road trip.

Ah, road trips. There’s nothing quite like them, is there? Rather than suffering the stress of delayed flights, exorbitant fees for checked bags, and then lost luggage, you get to enjoy exploring an area, singing at the top of your lungs, and having heart-to-heart conversations with the people you love.

green pasture with fence in foreground
The rolling countryside on the Central Coast is breathtaking.

Recently I drove from San Diego up to Central Coast (Cambria, Morro Bay, San Simeon, and Paso Robles) with my two closest friends, Lori and Sandra. I wanted to share a few of the experiences we think you should have the next time you’re in San Luis Obispo County.

Central Coast Road Trip #1: Visit Hearst Castle

I know I’m not being unique in saying that Hearst Castle is a must-see spot, but the fact is: I don’t go to many tourist attractions, and this is one I’m glad I visited. Visit SLO CAL set me and my friends up with the Grand Rooms Tour, which showed us only a fraction of the mansion with 56 bedrooms and 61 bathrooms.

white statue in front of indoor pool
The indoor pool at Hearst Castle.

William Randolph Hearst (who founded Hearst Media, which now owns several magazines you probably read regularly) was committed to building a “little bungalow” on the thousands of acres he inherited from his family. What he ended up with was a 28-year commitment that he dedicated his life to.

Hearst was passionate about collecting art and furniture from around the world, and his awe-inspiring home is crammed with his eclectic finds.

Book a longer tour like this small group full day Hearst Castle tour that leaves from Paso Robles. Our hour-and-a-half tour left us wanting more. Also: roam the gardens for free to discover great photo opps!

Discover more things to do near Hearst Castle.

Central Coast Road Trip #2: Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Inland from San Simeon, which is where Hearst Castle is, about a 50 minute drive, is Paso Robles, Central Coast’s answer to Napa Valley. The town is known for its 200 wineries, and is conveniently situated along a major interstate.

glass of wine on table of outdoor pool patio
The saltwater pool is inviting after a day of wine tasting!

We were provided a comped room at Allegretto Vineyard Resort, which, unfortunately, has set my standards a bit higher for hotel stays going forward (it’s unfortunate because I can’t afford to often stay in such luxury!).

The resort is an Italian-style villa nestled among its own grapevines. So in addition to staying in lavish accommodations, you can also sample and buy their wine! We had a tasting and enjoyed everything from a bright Viognier to several diverse Cabernet Sauvignons.

The suite we were given was spacious, filled with modern decor, and had a bathroom not easily rivaled. Throughout the resort, magnificent art from around the world (a bit like Hearst Castle in that) accented nooks and corners of the hotel.
Stay more than one night! We could have easily stayed a week and never left the property. But if you do, Paso Robles is just minutes away. Also enjoy the saltwater pool and a cabana with friends. Two thumbs up!

Alan and Donna learned how to drive a stagecoach on their visit to the area. But there’s so much more! Check out this list of things to see and do in Paso Robles.

Central Coast Road Trip #3: Explore Morro Bay

On our way home, we stopped for a few hours in Morro Bay, a delightful seaside village known for its large rock formation called, no surprise, Morro Rock. It emerged from the fog as we enjoyed brunch at Blue Sky Bistro on the Bay.

woman with sword at pirate's neck
Pirate Steve delights visitors to Morro Bay.

After an amazing Eggs Benedict and mimosas, we strolled along the Embarcadero, popping into some great shops and even quenching our thirst (it had been an hour since those mimosas!) at Libertine Brewing.

Look for Pirate Steve across from Libertine Brewing. He’s a delightful local character who has been swashbuckling and taking photos with visitors for over 20 years.

Too soon to go home? Find a hotel in Morro Bay to make the most of your Central Coast road trip.

One thing was clear after our road trip: we need to go back to the Central Coast! There was far too much to do for a long weekend, so we’re ready for Round 2 already!

Have anything to add to our recommendations on what to see while on a Central Coast road trip? Come join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook. Or send us an email with your thoughts.

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