Welcome to Central Coast

Coastal Hwy 1 pulls out all the stops, scenery-wise. Flower-power Santa Cruz and the historic port town of Monterey are gateways to the rugged wilderness of the bohemian Big Sur coast. It’s an epic journey snaking down to vainglorious Hearst Castle, past lighthouses and edgy cliffs atop which endangered condors soar.

Get acquainted with California’s agricultural heartland along inland Hwy 101, called El Camino Real (the King’s Highway) by Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan friars. Colonial missions still line the route, which passes through Paso Robles' flourishing wine and craft-beer country. Then soothe your nature-loving soul in collegiate San Luis Obispo, ringed by sunny beach towns and volcanic peaks.

Top experiences in Central Coast

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Starting at $38.99

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Central Coast activities

$49.95 Sightseeing Tickets & Passes

Monterey Bay Aquarium Admission

Your all-day admission ticket grants you access to all of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s exhibits. Live programming throughout the day includes Kelp Forest and Open Sea exhibit feeding shows, sea otter and penguin feedings, and auditorium programs such as Mysteries of the Deep and Luna: A Sea Otter's Story.

$94 Food, Wine & Nightlife

Carmel 3-Hour Small-Group Guided Food and Wine Walking Tour

Meet at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel to begin your 3-hour walking tour of this lovely coastal town, an artist’s colony that is a foodie’s delight. With your small group, learn about Carmel’s history and architecture as you follow your knowledgeable guide through hidden passageways and tiny plazas even many locals don’t know about. Covering just over a mile and interspersed with frequent tasting breaks, this well-paced tour is suitable for adults of all fitness levels. Visit local eateries and food shops to meet the owners and enjoy some gourmet tastings. Places you may visit include restaurants that range from fine dining through a local tavern.  Specialty shops make for interesting educational opportunities as well as unique taste treats.Your Carmel food tour ends in the early afternoon, leaving you plenty of time to revisit the restaurants and shops later to experience more culinary delights, and return to your favorites for lunch or dinner throughout the rest of your stay.

$29 Sightseeing Tickets & Passes

Santa Cruz Redwoods Roaring Camp Steam Train Ride in Felton

Experience California’s redwoods as never before, by taking a steam train through one of the Golden State’s towering ancient forests. Be inspired by both the natural beauty of the groves and the engineering prowess of this hulking locomotive, which dates back to the 1890s. Hop aboard the train at Roaring Camp in Felton, near the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, just 80 miles south of San Francisco. Settle into your open-air car and hang on as you chug past hundreds of old-growth redwoods with an unobstructed view. As you make your way up to the top of Bear Mountain, you’ll cruise over trestles and glide beneath the verdant canopy. Along the way, the knowledgeable train conductor will illuminate the forest with bits of history about how it was formed and facts about the local wildlife, as well as stories about the railroad and Roaring Camp. Learn about how steam locomotives similar to the one you’ll be riding are among the oldest and best preserved narrow-gauge steam engines in America, and were once used to schlep redwood logs down from the mountains. You’ll have plenty of time to admire your surroundings on the 1-hour round trip ride. At the summit, study the architecture and visit the old-fashioned general store. Capture the moment in the vintage photo booth and peek inside the charmingly woodsy sheriff’s office. Stretch your legs and take in the majestic surroundings on a nature stroll through nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Please note: Picnic tables are available at Roaring Camp for all-day rental. Inquire at the ticket office when you visit. Gates open at 9:30am, and parking closes at 5pm, unless trains are still operating.

$69 Food, Wine & Nightlife

Paso Robles Wine Adventure

You can expect to meet other wine enthusiasts and get to know them over the course of the day. You'll spend the day with a small group and visit between 4-6 wineries. Your group will discuss various options with your guide and craft an itinerary of wineries to visit. Your guides are very fond of smaller wineries, those that are family-owned, historic and off-the-beaten path, but there are no strict rules. Your guides try to avoid taking you to places you have already visited (unless you want to go back!). They will point out landmarks and wineries along the way, tell stories and talk about the local history and, of course, wine making, as well as sharing with you the local culture. A deli-style picnic lunch is included (vegetarian available upon request) on the full-day tour.

$48 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Monterey Half-Day Whale Watching Tour

Meet at Fisherman's Wharf to begin your whale watching experience at 9am. Monterey Bay is considered to be a premier destination for whale watching year round as these animals are often spotted there. Your whale watching trip will be narrated by a marine biologist or naturalist, who will provide you educational and interesting information about marine wildlife.In addition to teaching you about the wildlife, your marine biologists and naturalists will provide information about the natural history of the local area and talk about conservation. While out on the ocean your marine biologists and naturalists will also be collecting sighting data for scientific research. During your trip the crew will show you how to spot whales and dolphins as well as give you advice on how to best capture photos and videos of the wildlife. You will return back to the original departure point between 12:30pm and 1pm.

$65.25 Tours & Sightseeing

Monterey and Cannery Row 1-Hour Independent Sea Car Tour

Pick up your 2-seater Sea Car at the Portola Hotel & Spa, just a 5-minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. Simple to drive and park, this zany scooter car allows you to zip around downtown streets and out to the coast to cruise along one of the most scenic drives in the United States. You can follow a designated itinerary or make up your own adventure.The 1-hour narrated tour directs you on a route past Monterey’s historical buildings, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and Lovers Point park and beach. Enjoy sweeping ocean vistas through the convertible’s open top, and soak up views of the harbor. You'll see sand dunes, cypress trees and marine life like seals and otters among many stops along the route.Note: Price is based on per car.

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