California Dreamin’ on the Central Coast and Channel Islands

Hop in a convertible and cruise down California’s most iconic Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, a 100-mile stretch that weaves through San Luis Obispo County along uncrowded white sand beaches, through small artist communities and coastal vineyards.

The small seaside village of Cambria, located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is brimming with coastal inns, charming bed and breakfasts, stupendous shopping, and fine dining.
   The fresh sea air always makes you hungry, so if you have a hankering for a decadent dessert, stop by Linn’s Restaurant in Cambria for a warm slice of the town’s famous olallieberry pie. The culinary highlight of our visit to Cambria was dinner at Robin’s Restaurant. The restaurant features a “vegetable concierge” who travels to local farmers’ markets to buy the freshest greens, fruits, and fish.

Avila Beach and Sycamore Mineral Springs
“If you are not barefoot, you are overdressed” read a sign that greeted us along the waterfront in Avila Beach – a small laidback town with art galleries, boutiques, and lots of opportunities to surf, kayak, paddleboard, and fish off the pier.
   A walk down Front Street along the long sandy beach makes you feel like you’re taking a stroll back through a childhood memory. Reimer’s Candy Shop, a combination candy and ice cream store, has been a family-owned fixture along the beach for over 50 years.
   Enjoy exceptional margaritas and fresh seafood with breathtaking views of the ocean at Mersea’s Restaurant located at the end of the long pier at the end of Avila Beach. 

The North American Galapagos Islands.
The Channel Islands National Park offers the opportunity to disappear on a remote island. The National Park encompasses five ecologically rich wild islands with no services or accommodations. 
   The islands are only accessible byferry service(Island Packers) and planes (Channel Islands Aviation) or private boat. The U.S. Ferries leave out of Ventura or Oxnard – about an hour north of Los Angeles.  

Marine Wildlife
The 90-minute ferry ride from Ventura to Santa Cruz Island was a wildlife show in itself. We saw huge sea lions and a pod of bottlenose dolphins.

Ventura, a laidback, surfer town, is a departure point for the ferry to the Channel Islands.  Attractions include the historic mission, Botanical Gardens, and local art on colorful tile murals. www.Highway1Discovery

Marybeth Bond

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor and National Geographic Author

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