Top things to do

Top Choice Park in Big Sur

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

If you're chasing waterfalls, swing into this state park named for a Big Sur pioneer. From the parking lot, the 1.3-mile round-trip Overlook Trail rushes downhill toward the ocean, passing through a tunnel underneat…
Top Choice Aquarium in Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey’s most mesmerizing experience is its enormous aquarium, built on the former site of the city’s largest sardine cannery. All kinds of aquatic creatures are featured, from kid-tolerant sea stars and slimy sea…
Top Choice Church in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo

Monterey's original mission was established by Franciscan friar Junípero Serra in 1770, but poor soil and the corrupting influence of Spanish soldiers forced the move to Carmel two years later. Today this is one of …
Top Choice Seafood in Pismo Beach

Cracked Crab

Fresh seafood and regional wines are the staples at this super-casual, family-owned grill. When the famous bucket o’seafood, full of flying bits of fish, Cajun sausage, red potatoes and cob corn, gets dumped on your…
Top Choice State Park in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

They bark, they bathe and they’re fun to watch – sea lions are the stars here at Punta de los Lobos Marinos (Point of the Sea Wolves), almost 4 miles south of Carmel, where a dramatically rocky coastline offers exce…
Top Choice Music in Monterey

Monterey Jazz Festival

One of the world’s longest-running jazz festivals (since 1958) showcases big-name headliners over a long weekend in mid-September.
Top Choice Seafood in Pacific Grove


Fresh, sustainable seafood is artfully presented in any number of inventive ways, and a seasonally inspired menu also carries slow-cooked meats and vegetarian dishes spotlighting local farms. The earth-tone decor is…
Top Choice Amusement Park in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The West Coast’s oldest beachfront amusement park, this 1907 boardwalk has a glorious old-school Americana vibe. The smell of cotton candy mixes with the salt air, punctuated by the squeals of kids hanging upside do…
Top Choice Fusion in San Luis Obispo

Luna Red

Local bounty from the land and sea, artisan cheeses and farmers-market produce pervade the chef's Californian, Asian and Mediterranean small-plates menu. Cocktails and glowing lanterns enhance a sophisticated ambien…
Top Choice Californian in Cayucos

Cass House Restaurant

The inn’s chef-driven restaurant defies expectations. Linger over a locally sourced, seasonally inspired menu that ambitiously ranges from stone-fruit salad with whipped homemade ricotta and crispy abalone fritters …