Starting in the north, along the California coast, San Simeon and
Cambria (the place to stay and dine) are two places worthy of more than
a day's visit. Hearst Castle, with multiple tours and excellent
facilities is the most popular State Park in the system. This is where
William Randolph Hearst came for vacation (as did the Hollywood stars
and starlets who were invited to join him). Where else can you see what
obsessive unbudgeted construction married with an unbelievable setting
produces? If you think the striped horses grazing nearby look more like
zebras, they are.
Heading down the coast, there are a cluster of small to medium
size towns to explore, including Morro Bay (home of the Rock), San Luis
Obispo, Avila Beach and Pismo Beach.
Inland, take a detour to see a faux Danish village called Solvang
if you wish to see a real windmill without crossing the Atlantic. Don't
miss the pastries while you look around the town.
Backed by the Santa Inez Mountains and fronted by the Pacific
Ocean, Santa Barbara is hemmed in along the coast, limiting growth and
industry, probably the reason everyone loves the place. With great
weather, a top state university, the beach, red tile and stucco Spanish
architecture, what could be better?
The hills beyond the coast in this region were once bypassed by
visitors but now there are several important clusters of vineyards and
wineries rivaling their famous cousins in Napa and Sonoma. Paso Robles,
San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara all have a nearby "wine country" with
many places open for touring and tastings. Naturally, the sunny dry
climate with cooling marine breezes are perfect conditions for
grape-growing - "Mediterranean" climate, in fact.