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California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route

California

California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route: 160 Kilometers of Enriching Coastal Adventures

By: Idoia Gkikas

Central Coast Aerial Media
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  • States:
    California

A bounty of exciting experiences await in coastal San Luis Obispo County.

California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route offers 160 kilometers of coastline, 10 picturesque towns, fantastic farm-to-table restaurants, a thriving wine region and opportunities to engage in Stewardship Travel activities. All 10 destinations along the route offer quality hotels, motels, bed & breakfast inns and vacation rentals among beaches, shops and activities that are unique to this portion of California Highway 1. Take your time to explore these must-see stops on your road trip through this stretch of iconic highway.

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Natural History Center

This non-profit organization works to protect the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, a 30-kilometer stretch of the largest intact coastal dune ecosystem on Earth. Take a free, naturalist-led Stewardship Travel tour to learn about this fragile landscape.

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Hummer Tours near Pismo Beach

Pacific Adventure Tours and Xtreme Hummer Adventures offer thrilling driving tours in military-style Humvees on the only vehicular beach in California. An expert driver will take you speeding over, around, backward and even through the wild terrain of the Oceano dunes. Hang on tight!

Take a wild ride over the Oceano dunes with Pacific Adventure Tours and Extreme Hummer Adventures.

Take a wild ride over the Oceano dunes with Pacific Adventure Tours and Extreme Hummer Adventures.
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Lopez Lake Recreation Area, Arroyo Grande Valley

Swimming, boating, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking – it’s all here at Lopez Lake. Don’t miss the zip line course at Vista Lago Adventure Park and the family-friendly thrills at Mustang Waterpark.

Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley Wine Regions

Take a bike ride to discover San Luis Obispo’s award-winning wine regions of Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys. The Tiffany Ranch Road loop is 32 kilometers with some hill cycling, or cross the valley on Biddle Ranch Road to shorten the ride and avoid the hills.

Try a wine tasting or take a romantic stroll through the vineyards in Edna Valley.

Try a wine tasting or take a romantic stroll through the vineyards in Edna Valley.
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Highway 1 Discovery Route

Bob Jones Trail, Avila Beach

Dubbed the “City to Sea” trail, the Bob Jones Trail is paved, mostly flat and just 5 kilometers long – perfect for all ages and energy levels. Meander through the forested valley all the way out to Avila Beach and enjoy a picnic on the shore.

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Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos

Hike the Bluff Trail at Montaña de Oro State Park and watch from the top of the bluff as the ocean waves crash against cliffs and rocks. Keep an eye for whales from one of six viewing spots, or observe the tide pools, which are full of marine life. Go kite surfing or paddle boarding, or stay on dry land to bike, ride horses and keep an eye out for black-tailed deer and peregrine falcons.

Rugged cliffs, secluded beaches and rolling hills are just some of the incredible natural features that make Montaña de Oro State Park special.

Rugged cliffs, secluded beaches and rolling hills are just some of the incredible natural features that make Montaña de Oro State Park special.
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Cayucos Wildlife Kayak Tour

Cayucos is a historic, laid-back beach that’s outstanding for surfing, swimming, paddle-boarding and kayaking. Enjoy kayaking tours for all experience levels to secluded beaches and hidden coves.

Keep your eyes on the water – otters, dolphins and whales are just some of the wildlife you might spot on a kayak tour at Cayucos.

Keep your eyes on the water – otters, dolphins and whales are just some of the wildlife you might spot on a kayak tour at Cayucos.
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Moonstone Beach, Cambria

This uncrowded beach in the town of Cambria is named for the moonstones (pearly white semiprecious stones) that you might find hidden in the sand. Stroll along the historic wooden boardwalk for a chance to see elephant seals, sea lions, dolphins and even whales migrating offshore.

Catch a sunset or sunrise at Moonstone Beach for stunning ocean and sky views.

Catch a sunset or sunrise at Moonstone Beach for stunning ocean and sky views.
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Highway 1 Discovery Route

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, Cambria

Once the domain of the Chumash and Salinian Native American tribes, this breathtaking stretch of seaside bluff is home to many endangered species. A local favorite 1.6-kilometer trail along the Pacific Ocean welcomes hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists; keep an eye out for red-legged frogs and Monterey pines. 

The unmatched coastal beauty at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is within walking distance of visitor accommodations.

The unmatched coastal beauty at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is within walking distance of visitor accommodations.
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Highway 1 Discovery Route
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Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, San Simeon

For a free, easy-to-access and totally captivating side trip, pull off the Highway 1 Discovery Route to see hundreds of wild elephant seals and sea lions up close from the boardwalk or viewing areas. Docents provide insight through tours and exploratory programs. Nearby, you can also see the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station. Cycle Central Coast offers a variety of cycling routes, including a ride up Highway 1 to see the elephant seals.

Access to Piedras Blancas Light Station is only by guided tour, led by a dedicated all-volunteer staff.

Access to Piedras Blancas Light Station is only by guided tour, led by a dedicated all-volunteer staff.
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Highway 1 Discovery Route

Getting There

The San Luis Obispo Airport is located minutes from the coast and offers flights to and from Phoenix, Arizona, and Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Direct flights to and from Seattle will begin April 2017.

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