Top things to do

Top Choice Historic Building in San Simeon

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a wondrous, historic, over-the-top homage to material excess, perched high on a hill. The estate sprawls across acres of lushly landscaped gardens, accentuated by shimmering pools and fountains, sta…
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 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 Lighthouse in Big Sur

Point Sur State Historic Park

A little over 6 miles south of Bixby Bridge, Point Sur rises like a velvety green fortress out of the sea. It looks like an island, but is actually connected to land by a sandbar. Atop the volcanic rock sits an 1889…
Top Choice Historic Site in Monterey

Monterey State Historic Park

Old Monterey is home to an extraordinary assemblage of 19th-century brick and adobe buildings, administered as Monterey State Historic Park, and all found along a 2-mile self-guided walking tour portentously called …
Top Choice Craft Beer in Monterey

Alvarado Street Brewery

Vintage beer advertising punctuates Alvarado Street's brick walls, but that's the only concession to earlier days at this excellent craft-beer pub. Innovative brews harness new hop strains, sour and barrel-aged beer…
Top Choice Pub in Morro Bay

Libertine Pub

Stroll down to the Embarcadero for barrel-aged and sour beers from one of California's most interesting breweries. Lots more excellent American craft beers are on the 48 taps, and entertainment comes from the barten…
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 Market in San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo Farmers Market

The county’s biggest and best weekly farmers market turns downtown SLO’s Higuera St into a giant street party, with smokin’ barbecues, overflowing fruit and veggie stands, live music and free sidewalk entertainment,…
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.