Road trip, anyone? That sweet spot between Los Angeles and San Francisco serves up a bunch of artisan towns and seaside villages we think you should be checking out when you feel the call of the highway.
From January 15 - February 29, 2016, 10 stops along California's Highway 1 Discovery Route will be hosting their annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration. Oenophiles take note: The second annual Paso Robles Wine Country BlendFest on the Coast will be taking place at the same time, while cinema buffs may want to check out the free film festival at the Hearst Castle Theater.
The 10 seaside villages start just south of Big Sur. Here's what's along the way.
A castle in California? San Simeon offers the chance to explore Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst from materials shipped all the way from Europe. Even the warehouses that were built to house these materials are over the top -- designed in the Mission revival-style by Julia Morgan, they look like mansions unto themselves.
Just 15 miles north of San Simeon, drivers will spot spectacular Pacific Ocean vistas, as well as the chance to sea whales, dolphins and elephant seals.
Stop for a drink at The Ragged Point Inn, which offers offers patio dining, a gas station, hotel, wedding facility and hiking trail.
Cambria and Cayucos
An isolated beauty surrounded by pines, in Cambria history buffs can visit the Cambria Historical Society, which is housed in a fully restored historic home and houses exhibits on The Building of Highway One, The Great Fire of 1889 that destroyed most of the town, and The Sinking of the S.S. Montebello in 1941 off the coast in the days following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Travelers can also relax with a bicycle rental or try golfing, hiking, shopping, fishing, wine tasting or whale watching.
Los Osos and Baywood Park
Up for a real trek? This bayside community is the gateway to the oceanside Montana de Oro State Park. Excellent kayaking conditions, great golfing and a unique coastal environment filled with tidepools offer ample opportunities for exploring.
Avila Beach & Valley
Perfect for sunbathing, this beach town also offers great surfing, kayaking, cycling and rollerblading. Out to sea and further inland, there are also opportunities for sport fishing and whale watching, as well as day hikes, picnic tables and permanent barbecues for a quick meal.
Travelers can also relax at Sycamore Mineral Springs or shop seasonal produce at the Avila Valley Barn. In the fall, many area orchards offer the chance to sample unique varieties of See Canyon Apples.
Bounded on the south end by Lopez Lake and in the shadow of volcanic mountains, Edna Valley offers a playground for campers, boaters, skiers and mountain bikers. For something a little more low-key, the volcanic soil also produces world-class wine.
Arroyo Grande Valley
Another top-notch wine region, this area is home to SLO Wine Country for tastings and tours. It is also close to the Lopez Lake Recreation Area.
Nipomo is where Dorothea Lange shot the famous "Migrant Mother" photo during the Great Depression. Today, the area is home to lush golf courses, rolling sand dunes and a gentle climate. Cypress Ridge Golf Course is ranked second in the state, behind Pebble Beach.
Other things to do include taking in a wine tasting at the 10 wineries located along the Pacific Coast Wine Trail, and numerous Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley and Avila Beach wineries, or going whale watching, bird watching or simply for a walk on the beach.