Along the California coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco are several resort towns well worth visiting. Between San Luis Obispo and San Francisco is the scenic coastal route of Highway 1, famous for its winding roads and bridges and stunning views overlooking the crashing waves below. These areas include Santa Barbara, Los Olivos, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, Carmel, Pebble Beach and Monterey. It is fun to take a 3 or 4 day drive up the coast from Los Angeles and visit a couple of these quaint towns. You can stop by for lunch or dinner, or spend the night in one of the many lovely hotels. If you don't like driving there is an airport in a couple of the cities, as well as a passenger train that goes all the way up the coast. Check on-line or with your travel agent for travel-packages and discounts.
This camera is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Webcam from the Nepenthe Restaurant over looking the coast. Still image updating every minute. Big Sur is famous for its abrupt cliffs next to the ocean.
Five live streaming Flash webcams at the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.
This is a view from West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz looking at The Wharf.
Live streaming cam from the Santa Barbara Yacht Club.
Live streaming cam from the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Live streaming cam from the University of California, Santa Barbara Campus Point.
Streaming surfcam from Leadbetter Beach, Santa Barbara.
A favorite weekend get-away for Angelinos is Santa Barbara. Less than a 2-hour drive from LA, this Spanish-influenced city, with its red-tile roofs and Spanish street names, is set right on the coast. Home to such celebrities as Oprah and Rob Lowe, this town is filled with high-end boutiques and world-class restaurants, yet maintains a small town feel. While you are there be sure and see the Mission Santa Barbara. Dubbed "The Queen of the Missions," this fabulous structure was founded in 1786 and is one of the best preserved missions in California. Within the Mission compound is a museum displaying its many historical Mexican artifacts.
Situated in the center of town is State Street. It is filled with hundreds of lovely shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. It also has several large department stores. It's a great place to do a little eating and shopping, or stop for a coffee. Also on State Street is the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. It has a variety of arts, including works by Degas, Matisse, Picasso and Monet. At the very end of State Street is the beach and Sterns Wharf. Be sure to take a walk along the boardwalk or rent specialty bikes to take in the atmosphere. At Sterns Wharf you will find specialty shops, seafood restaurants and boat charters.
Close to State Street you can find the Presidio de Santa Barbara Park and see El Cuartel, the second-oldest surviving structure in California, built in 1788. In the Downtown area there are many other Historic Adobes that you can walk by, including the County Courthouse on Anacapa Street. Another interesting sight is the Santa Barbara Zoo. With over 500 animals and a miniature train, this is a terrific place to take the kids for a couple of hours.
Just about a 30-minute drive Northeast from Santa Barbara is the Santa Inez Valley. Here you will find the town of Los Olivos, now made infamous by Michael Jackson and his Neverland Estate. This scenic area is home to more than 60 wineries within a 15-mile radius. Many of them have tasting rooms and guided tours that you can take to see how wine is created from start to finish. We highly recommend taking a full day to tour the area and wineries, sampling the many various wines.
Close to Los Olivos is the quaint Danish Town of Solvang, or "Sunny Field" in Danish. This beautiful little town was founded by a small group of Danish teachers in 1911. Known for its lovely shops, bakeries and windmills, Solvang is a wonderful place to stop for the afternoon on your way up the coast. Whether you like wine tasting, fine dining, water sports or golfing, the scenic Santa Barbara area and the Santa Ynez Valley has something for you.
About midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is the wonderful city of San Luis Obispo. The city was originally founded as a mission in 1772 and is also home to California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). While in San Luis Obispo, a trip to the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolsa is a must. Located in the center of town, the mission is lovingly referred to as "The Prince of Missions." It is now a beautiful parish church. Inside, visitors can take a tour of the museum displaying Chumash Indian artifacts and belongings of early settlers.
Along the coast, west of San Luis Obispo, is the quaint town of Baywood. It is a terrific place to spend the night and get a little rest and relaxation, such as at the Baywood Inn. From there you can also get a terrific view of the incredible Morro Bay Rock located in nearby Morro Bay. This enormous conical rock juts out of the ocean 578 feet above the water. A walk around this incredible sight is a must. There is also a marina and fishing wharf close by. There you will find specialty shops, restaurants and fine-dining. You can also book a fishing tour or even rent kayaks.
About 30 minutes Northwest of San Luis Obispo is the town of Cambria. This beautiful area is known for its stunning ocean views as well as its fine California wines. Cambria is part of the well-known scenic drive on Highway 1 between San Luis Obispo and San Francisco. On Main Street you will find wonderful shops and cafes. While you are there make sure to check out Nitt Witt on Hillcrest Drive, a 2.5 acre landmark property hand-built using such salvaged materials as driftwood and beer cans!
Traveling north along the coast on HWY 1 you will then come to San Simeon. This area was made famous by William Randolph Hearst when he built his infamous 165-room Hearst's Castle there. Set aside a few hours to see this one-of-a-kind property. There are several different tours to choose from, depending on which part of the castle you would like to see. Make sure to plan on walking for about 1 ½ hours and going up and down plenty of stairs.
Along the coast, just north of San Simeon is the scenic and majestic town of Big Sur. This is a wonderful place to spend the night and relax in one of its luxury hotel/spas. Be sure to go past the Point Sur Historic Park with its Point Sur Lighthouse.
Continuing up the coast along HWY 1 you will come to an area called the Monterey Peninsula. During the 1800's this beautiful area was thriving due to its fishing and whaling industries. Cannery Row in Monterey was established in the 1920's for its sardine industry. Now the Monterey Peninsula, with its gorgeous natural beauty, has brought many visitors to the area and tourism is its top local industry. Visitors will find a dramatic coastline there with majestic cliffs, crashing waves, beautiful beaches, and incredible surfing. It is also a hot destination for golfers, especially in Pebble Beach, with its world-class golf courses. There is the famous "17-mile Drive" a private, scenic toll-road that travels from Carmel to Pacific Grove. It offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and its rugged coastline.
Beginning on the southern tip of the peninsula is Carmel, or Carmel-by-the-Sea. This small town has a strong "village" atmosphere and no actual street addresses. Walking is the best way to get around. You can start with a stroll along the white sandy beach then head into town to see the many art galleries and interesting courtyards. Be sure and stop by the Carmel Mission. Established in 1770, the Mission features a museum, lovely courtyard gardens and a Moorish bell tower
Just north of Carmel is Pebble Beach. You can travel part of the "17-Mile Drive" between these two coastal towns. Best know for its incredible golf courses, Pebble Beach has long been a golfer's paradise.
From Carmel you can take the famous "17-mile Drive" to Pacific Grove. Originally a summer camp, Pacific Grove grew into a scenic and tranquil waterfront town. There are still more that 1200 historic buildings in the area, including many well-preserved Victorian homes in the Downtown area. This is a great place to go hiking or biking, especially along the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail. Be sure to go by the Point Pinos Lighthouse on Asilomar Blvd which has been in operation since 1855.
Continuing around the peninsula from Pacific Groove you will come to Monterey. This beautiful city is a wonderful place to stay. You can stroll through the shops, galleries and Restaurants of Cannery Row, formerly a sardine cannery. Be sure to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It has over 700 species of marine life and, in our opinion, is one of the best aquariums in the country. Stop by the Fisherman's Wharf as well. For a little exercise, you can take the 2-hour walking tour called the Monterey Path of History. There are many different types of lodging in Monterey, from a quaint bed-and-breakfast to a 4-star hotel. There are also several fine-dining restaurants to choose from.