The internationally known Hearst Castle in San Simeon and the Mission San Luis Obispo Tolosa attract millions of visitors each year but there are several lesser known tourist attractions – natural and man-made that are worth adding to your itinerary.
Located in the heart of San Luis Obispo’s Downtown, Bubblegum Alley has become an iconic attraction for tourists and locals alike. This 15 foot high and 70 foot high alley is lined from top to bottom with millions of pieces of multi-colored gum left by passers-by that stick their mark on this landmark attraction. So, get creative, grab your favorite gum and stick it!
Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria
Fiscalini Ranch is far from the largest of coastal ecosystems, but packs more biological diversity into a confined area than many larger properties. It is bordered on the north by a mile and a half of riparian habitat that encompasses tidal effect zones, seasonal freshwater marshes and wetlands dotted with birds. The Monterey pine forest (part of three remaining native stands in the world) serves as habitat and cover for wildlife moving between the coastal range and the ocean bluffs.
Craft wine, beer, and spirits
Tin City is an evolving industrial makers market nestled among the oaks where friends, adventurers, and aficionados come together to partake in craft wine, beer and spirits served up by Paso Robles’ most passionate artisans. Housed in an industrial park just off Highway 101, visitors enjoy being served locally-sourced craft beverages by those elbow-deep in the process of creation. Sit at the bar and odds are the person pouring for you is the visionary behind what fills your glass.
Sea Otters in Morro Bay
There’s an abundance of pure unadulterated cuteness going on from the recent increase in California Sea Otter families living in Morro Bay. Mommas and babies are everywhere eating and grooming each other. Now is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of these sea creatures in their natural habitat since Morro Bay harbor is experiencing the highest count to date of these adorable critters. The southeast side of Morro Rock is a great spot for sea otter viewing as is Coleman beach at the intersection of Embarcadero and Coleman Drive. There are also public viewing spots along the Embarcadero in between the plethora of restaurants, boutique shops and wine bars. To get an even closer look, paddle out on the bay in a kayak or paddle board, but be sure to give the otters plenty of room. Visitors can also take a ride on the Lost Isle Tiki boat to see the otters and the ever-barking sea lions, which includes a quick stop at the Morro Bay sand spit beach for a nice walkabout.
Atascadero City Hall
Originally built in 1918, the historic building suffered damage from the 2003 San Simeon earthquake and was shut down for 10 years to complete repairs. It reopened in 2013 for the public, and they offer docent-guided tours Monday-Friday.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
Visit the northern elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas Rookery located just south of Point Piedras Blancas and six miles north of Hearst Castle. The Piedras Blancas Rookery offers the best viewing location along scenic Highway 1 for these fascinating creatures as well as other wildlife. There is abundant parking, easy access on large viewing boardwalks, and it’s all free!
California's Central Coast consists of:VENTURA REGION: Ventura County, Camarillo, Conejo Valley, Heritage Valley, Oxnard, Simi Valley
SANTA BARBARA REGION: Santa Barbara County, Buellton, Carpinteria Valley, Lompoc Valley, Los Olivos, Santa Maria Valley, Solvang, Santa Ynez Valley
SAN LUIS OBISPO REGION: San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Cambria, Cayucos, Grover Beach, Harmony, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Simeon
MONTEREY BAY REGION: Monterey County, Santa Cruz County, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Gilroy, Hollister, San Benito, San Juan Bautista
About Central Coast Tourism Council
The Central Coast Tourism Council (CCTC) is a non-profit organization comprised of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs; Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) throughout the California Central Coast. Comprised of tourism and hospitality professionals, the mission of CCTC is to jointly promote the entire California Central Coast as a destination. The four regions that comprise California’s Central Coast include Monterey Bay, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The CCTC also serves as the Central Coast’s voice in Sacramento, and as a partner with Visit California’s global marketing and advertising campaigns.