A visit to the breathtaking Montana de Oro State Park (Mountain of Gold) is like entering into a naturalist’s favorite dream. As one of the largest state parks in California, it graciously offers over 8,000 acres of ocean cliff-top trails, isolated sandy beaches, and canyon hikes with Valencia Peak featuring the most awe-inspiring panoramic views in the entire county.
Mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and tide pooling are all popular here. The intimate enclave of Los Osos, gateway to Montana de Oro, is a small, closely-knit bedroom community offering a peaceful respite for many who commute to the larger cities with all the necessary comforts of home.
Looking across the vast Morro Bay Estuary, Peregrine Falcons fly high overhead while playful sea otters frolic and surfers and kayakers glide through the glistening waves nearby. High above, Morro Rock is an imposing sight any season, offering a picturesque setting for Morro Bay’s Embarcadero shopping and seafood dining mecca along with expansive white sandy beaches perfect for a soul-soothing stroll.
Pristine golf courses, with first class views of the bay, lie within the Morro Bay State Park. This seaside favorite is also home to popular festivals including January’s Annual Bird Festival and October’s Harbor Festival. December offers the Parade of Lights with boats parading through the estuary and beyond illuminated in holiday cheer.
September and October are generally the most breathtakingly beautiful months of the year along San Luis Obispo’s North Coast. Cayucos, a quintessential surf town not often found these days along California’s Coast, pulls out all of the stops for its annual Fourth of July extravaganza as does its popular Polar Bear Dip into the chilly Pacific each New Year’s Day.
Dolphins are often seen playing in the surf at the base of the Cayucos Pier during warm weather street festivals and live music venues. Boogie boarders, fishermen and surfers are often found frolicking in the friendly surf and the home of the best smoked fish tacos beckons nearby for visitors and locals alike.
Cambria by the Sea
Moonstone Beach is a popular tourist destination for those heading north on world-famous Highway 1 as well as artists, writers and other creative residents. The area’s Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, a favorite hiking trail along the cliffs above the expansive shoreline, is often teeming with sea lions, otters and other marine mammal favorites.
Downtown Main Street offers an East and West Village with everything from antique stores and mouth-watering restaurants to an old town saloon and specialty art stores. Pinedorado Days, held each fall, revisits this beauty’s heritage and celebrates life amongst the towering pines.
Known best as the home to Hearst Castle, this treasure is visited by millions each year, for its opulence, hilltop panoramic views and California history. Far below stands the historic Sebastian’s General Store & Café in Old San Simeon. An old school house still stands erect as does the San Simeon Pier, used by William Randolph Hearst to transport his building materials, exotic art collections and visiting guests up the hill to his magical kingdom.
The town of San Simeon primarily caters to the millions of tourists who visit Hearst Castle each year. The area is also known for other attractions including the stunning Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and a large northern elephant seal rookery located just north along the world-famous Highway 1 leading north along the Pacific up to Big Sur and Monterey.