Set against a backdrop of mountains, gardens, and sea, Santa Barbara is renowned world-wide for its charm and beauty. The town bustles with waterfront restaurants, hotels, and historic buildings, such as the 1786 Santa Barbara Mission. Bikers, skaters, and riders in four-wheel surreys share the paved walkways along Santa Barbara's waterfront. The view from Stearns Wharf reveals 30 miles of white-sand beaches.
Inland, San Luis Obispo, offers small-town appeal, wineries, and a weekly Farmer's Market. To the northwest, Morro Bay features Morro Rock, an old volcanic dome. Cayucos and Cambria, former shipping ports, are situated on cliffs above the tide pools. Cambria features art galleries and shops. 8 miles north lies San Simeon with stunning Hearst Castle. Built by media mogul William Randolph Hearst, the flamboyant mansion includes 100 rooms, marble terraces, pools, and priceless paintings and sculptures.
Inland, on Hwy 101, visitors pass through Atascadero and Paso Robles before entering the agricultural Salinas Valley. Along the way, visit missions San Miguel, Soledad, and San Antonio de Padua. San Juan Bautista and its mission and state historic park take you back to the 19th century. South of Hollister, Pinnacles National Monument encompasses volcanic remnants. Hiking trails take you past fantastic rock formations and caves.