Open For Anything

Plan your freewheeling, soul-seeking, open-ended journey through coastal San Luis Obispo County.

Shop 'til you drop along Highway 1

Whether you’re looking for the perfect antique, a stylish new shirt, or market-fresh produce, Highway 1 has something for every shopper.

At either end of Main Street, Cambria’s East and West Villages boast a multitude of artists’ galleries, specialty boutiques, and vintage and antique shops to wander and explore. Pull into Harmony GlassWorks, located in the itty bitty community of Harmony, just south of Cambria, and witness master craftsman Eric Dandurand blowing glass live in this working artists’ studio. In the Historic Village of Arroyo Grande, the Central Coast’s unique turn-of-the-century downtown village, you’ll find an array of antique and specialty shops plus fine dining nestled within the scenic atmosphere of historic buildings and natural beauty. The Village is a true picture of Americana on the Central Coast of California. Hungry? Check out one of the many farmers’ markets throughout the Central Coast for fresh foods from local producers.

Gaze out over the ocean at these scenic piers

Get lost in the expanse of the Pacific Ocean and see whales, elephant seals, and otters at one of these historic piers along the Central Coast.

Previously serving as an offloading point for treasures destined for Hearst Castle, the San Simeon Pier is a great spot to watch the elephant seals in San Simeon Cove. A picnic area with barbeque pits adjoins the pier. Like fishing? Cayucos Pier is a great place to catch perch, mackerel, and halibut. If the catch is light, you can always stop for a bite at Ruddell’s Smokehouse for indescribably delicious smoked fish.  The little town of Avila Beach has not one, but two piers to enjoy. Avila Pier is right downtown and the surrounding beach is perfect for a family afternoon. Harford Pier, just a short drive away, is a working pier for the fishing port, where you can enjoy the fresh catch of the day at Mersea’s Restaurant. For dog lovers, Fisherman’s Beach is a dog-friendly beach just adjacent to the pier.

The highway is calling. Plan your adventure today.

Celebrate the season on California’s Highway 1

No matter what your holiday style, you’ll find plenty of reasons to celebrate the season along SLOCAL’s stretch of Highway 1.

At The Cambria Scarecrow Festival all through October, businesses and organizations throughout Cambria and San Simeon let whimsy run rampant with the display of hundreds of scarecrows across a wide variety of themes and media. Also in October, Death Walks The Rancho at the Dana Adobe as the historic home of the founder of Nipomo hosts three evenings of ghost tours featuring chilling reenactments of tragic, terrifying, and true events that took place on Rancho Nipomo during the 19th century. At Holiday Twilight Tours at Hearst Castlevisit “The Enchanted Hill” in San Simeon for a look at how William Randolph Hearst decorated his palatial home during the holidays―especially in the evening, with lights all aglow. The Great American Melodrama Holiday Extravaganza is one of the great treasures of SLOCAL’s holiday season, when this beloved theater performance includes a live production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, plus an uproarious short musical and vaudeville revue, all performed by professional actors. The Cambria Christmas Market takes the concept of “making spirits bright” seriously. This favorite winter event brings together the traditional German Christmas market with artisan booths, Santa’s house, food and mulled wine booths, plus over 30 miles of holiday lights.

Exercise your mind along Highway 1

Looking to expand your horizons in SLOCAL? Try these five educational destinations along Highway 1.

A collaborative project between the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks, the Coastal Discovery Center celebrates where the sea meets the shore, with interpretive displays, interactive exhibits and educational programs for all ages. Step back in time to discover Cambria’s rich history with the Historical Cambria Walking Tour, a self-guided walking tour throughout town, developed by local historian, Dawn Dunlap. The Oceano Train Depot & Museuma former depot, is a must-see for train fans, including historic train cars, vintage railroad tools, interpretive displays, and artifacts from the time of Oceano’s Dunite community (whose visitors included Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck and Ansel Adams). “A museum like no other,” Hearst Castle State Park offers not only a window into the life and times of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his celebrity guests, but one of the richest collections of art and artifacts from all over the world, collected by Mr. Hearst throughout his lifetime. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Point San Luis Lighthouse is a working light station and is the last remaining Prairie Victorian model lighthouse on the West Coast. The lighthouse offers docent-led tours as well as unparalleled ocean views.

The highway is calling. Plan your adventure today.

Where to see eye-opening wildlife on Highway 1

From birds and butterflies to whales and elephant seals, SLOCAL’s stretch of Highway 1 is home to a remarkable variety of wildlife, most of which can be seen from a close distance. Ready to get wild? Try these hot spots.

In the Monarch Butterfly Grove just south of Pismo Beach, 25,000 Monarch butterflies cover the limbs of eucalyptus trees each year from October through February. Free and open to the public, this natural preserve offers docent-led talks and telescopes for viewing the butterflies up close. If all the world’s a stage, the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon is the best seat in the house. Watch the life cycle of this incredible marine mammal play out―from birth and mating to fighting and molting―right on the beach. Overlooking one of our nation’s most spectacular marine protected areas, The Whale Trail in San Simeon State Park offers views of up to 34 species of marine mammals, including gray whales, orcas, humpback and blue whales, as well as seals, sea lions and sea otters. Birders from far and wide who have visited the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in Los Osos, maintained by the Morro Coast Audubon Society, claim to have seen over 350 species in and around its shores. Don’t miss the newly installed binoculars, mounted on a stand, free to visitors for their viewing enjoyment.

Hit the trail with these hikes just off Highway 1

Lace up your walking shoes: SLO CAL’s stretch of Highway 1 is a hiker’s paradise, with trails varying from easy to challenging.

Big Falls in Arroyo Grande is an easy 4-mile out-and-back hike that includes remote, pristine waterfalls and natural swimming holes in the spring. Boasting nearly 750 acres of preserved land, Harmony Headlands State Park includes a 4.5-mile easy loop trail covering coastal plains and rugged bluffs at the sea’s edge. The Bob Jones Trail is a popular hiking, jogging and biking route located in Avila Beach. This easy, paved trail winds 1.5 miles through the forested valley alongside San Luis Obispo Creek to end in the seaside village of Avila Beach. The Ragged Point Cliffside Hike is a short but challenging walk that takes hikers down the cliffs to a picturesque beach with a waterfall. (Don’t forget your grippy walking shoes!). With 1,275 feet in elevation and 4.5 miles of trail, Valencia Peak in Montaña de Oro State Park mountain poses a challenge―and a reward―to those who reach its summit. On the Boucher Trail in San Simeon, you can catch views of the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station as well as beach-basking elephant seals along this 1.9-mile easy trail across coastal bluffs, grassland and wetlands.

The highway is calling. Plan your adventure today.

Highway 1 eateries worth opening your wallet for

Black Cat Bistro, Cambria
Sumptuous, classic French cuisine melds with fresh California ingredients in this intimate bistro, tucked into a cottage on Main Street. Paired with any number of local and international bottles from the authoritative wine list, any meal here would be hard to forget.

Cass House, Cayucos
Creative choices and seasonal produce dominate the menu in this historic home-turned-restaurant. Try a flatbread or moroccan-spiced tri-tip for dinner, tapas and wine, brunch on the weekend or laid-back Monday “Community Night,” with casual comfort food and live music.

Jocko’s Steakhouse, Nipomo
Quite literally a “pit stop,” this landmark Nipomo BBQ joint serves steak―and lots of it―cooked over a pit of red oak coals, along with all the fixings…and plenty of authenticity.

The Blue Heron, Baywood
Perched on the edge of Baywood Park, the Blue Heron provides an intimate farm-to-table and Pacific-to-plate dining experience. Try the oysters paired with excellent local and international wines, whether at a table for two inside or cozied up by a firepit on Blue Heron’s patio.

Sip and savor along Highway 1

Proximity to the ocean, with its cool breezes and tempering influence, has everything to do with the success of winegrowing in SLO CAL.  Try these 7 bottles to experience it for yourself.

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, Arroyo Grande ― Brut Cuvée
This crisp sparkling wine is made from grapes grown just a few miles from the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and is perfect for special occasions and everyday occasions alike. Drink with potato chips. (Really!)

Stolo Family Vineyards, Cambria ― Syrah
One of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s top 100 wines of 2018, this inky, peppery red wine was grown without irrigation in a practice known as dry-farming. Drink alongside barbecued steak or pork chops.

Sinor-LaVallée, Avila Beach ― “Ancestrale” Pet-Nat
Truth be told, this effervescent wine is unavailable much of the year as it sells out quickly. But for those who get their hands on it, it will taste all the more special and refreshing. Pair with takeout: Indian, Thai, or Japanese.

Claiborne & Churchill Vintners, Edna Valley ― Dry Gewürztraminer
Don’t let the name frighten you: Gewürztraminer is an Alsatian white grape variety that becomes wines of exceptional floral character, including this one from one of Edna Valley’s pioneering family wineries. Pair with a delicate salad of tender greens, or drink on its own.

Baileyana, Edna Valley ― Firepeak Chardonnay
The cool coastal climate and unique soils of the Edna Valley contribute to this wine’s racy acidity, making it a perfect match for food. Pair with a sausage sandwich, smothered in grilled onions.

Kynsi Winery, Edna Valley ― “Precious Stone” Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir truly shines in the Edna Valley, including from the Stone Corral Vineyard on Corbett Canyon Road. This elegant, fruit-forward wine is a terrific match with pulled-pork, flatbreads, and pasta with mushroom ragout.