Take it easy on a coastal drive through the heart of California
‘SLO Cal’ may be short for San Luis Obispo, but it’s also a fitting description. Here, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, slow is the pace of life. This small town and its surrounding county will charm you with farmer’s markets, hot springs and a rush-free mentality; just the place to relax on your luxury Central California holiday.
To see the best of this beautiful region, we recommend taking the scenic route – or rather the Discovery Route, a 160-kilometre stretch of Highway 1. Meander from Ragged Point to Nipomo, stopping by the laid-back towns which dot this rugged coast.
Piedras Blancas is a great stop between December and March, when elephant seal migrate to the shore to birth, breed and generally laze around. Nearby lies Hearst Castle, another must-see. Commissioned by media mogul William Randolph Hearst, this estate evokes the grandeur of centuries-old Mediterranean palaces, and was once a favourite haunt of Hollywood’s elite. The sprawling surrounds, known as Hearst Ranch, boast a novel attraction in the form of zebra – formerly of Hearst’s private zoo.
Enjoy more of the great outdoors by tackling one of the cliff-top trails in Montaña De Oro State Park, or by taking to the water in nearby Morro Bay. Pair that fresh sea air with a glass of SLO Cal’s celebrated wine. Viticulture here is centred on the Edna and Arroyo Grande valleys, where the temperate conditions allow more than 40 grape varieties to grow. We recommend sampling the chardonnay and pinot noir in one of the region’s tasting rooms, or taking a tour around this lesser-travelled wine country.