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vacation recommendations: central california?

matadorpoeta

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i'm planning a trip to san simeon to visit hearst castle and would like to know what places you recommend i visit between here (l.a.) and there. i've been told i should drive through solvang, and that there is a small town near solvang i should see, though i cannot recall the name right now. what other places should i see? i'm specifically thinking of carmel, monterey, pismo beach (because bugs bunny mentioned it so often), pebble beach (though i don't golf), santa barbara, etc...

i'm willing to devote as many as 4 days to this trip, if there are good times to be had.
 

whodini

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I take a trip up to Pismo Beach/SLO at least three times a year. If you're into wine, the Solvang area is great. I believe you were told to stop at Los Olivos which is a good bet. It was made famous due to the film "Sideways" and although it's been several years since the film was released, you'll still see businesses/tours trying to promote themselves because of it. Both Solvang and Los Olivos will have vineyard maps (or you could look online). There are a ton and vary in price per tasting and selection. If you're around Solvang on a weekend, I recommend stoping at Cold Spring Tavern for a tri-tip sandwich lunch, cold beer, and live music. It's a big biker hangout and a lot of fun. If you're not familiar with Santa Barbara, head over to downtown and walk along State St. I'll let the SB people give you more detailed recommendations as I tend to stick to a few places I know for food/drinks since most of the time I'm in that area I'm a friend's place near Montecito. I will say that if you like ice cream you need to try McConnell's. Damn. North past Solvang is a pretty empty stretch until you get up to Arroyo Grande. I've really found little to do there except stop at the Trader Joe's to stock up on beer/wine/snacks. Pismo itself is pretty sleepy but is where I always stay. There are several decent hotels along the cliffs but I find myself always going back to the Kon Tiki. Simple rooms that each have their own balcony and every single one faces the ocean. Great pool/jacuzzi and a guest pass to the gym next door (which is great after walking down two blocks to Old West for cinammon rolls). A bit further north and along the coast is Avila Beach, a quiet "resort" town. I usually head over to neighboring Port San Luis for dinner on the pier which is easily the best seafood in the area. SLO has a great small-town feel. I recommend Firestone's for an incredible tri-tip sandwich and a good selection of local beers. While Apple Farm is like walking inside a Thomas Kinkade painting (yeah...), their prime rib dinner is outstanding. Hearst is always good for a couple of hours. Keep heading up PCH for a great scenic drive. Lucia Lodge (in Lucia, CA) is a decent ocean-view restaurant and I think it was picked as having some of the best fish and chips in the US for a seaside spot. I wouldn't doubt it. Not much to do in Big Sur unless you're going to go hiking. Still a pretty drive. Plenty to see and do in Carmel/Monterey, even if only driving around. Make sure to see the aquarium. Not hard at all to find a great place to eat in Carmel.
 

whodini

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Originally Posted by fracmeister
http://www.maintour.com/socal/bkfhome.htm

Don;t mis the Buck Owens' Crystal Palace!!

(they don;t have a tongue in cheek smiley do they?)

Oddly enough, when someone says "Central California," no one dares think about anything along the 5 or 99... Probably better that way.
 

GoSurface

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Any insight on LA? I might be going in August to visit a friend. Is everyone there drinking the cool-aid? I always say I'm too East coast for LA.
 

Sartorian

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I used to live in Pebble Beach and Monterey.



The drive between San Simeon and the Monterey Peninsula can't be matched. If you like hiking, there are actually some amazing spots just south of Carmel Valley: I once went on one where we pulled over off the 1, walked along a creak up into the hills, and ended up on top of the bluffs overlooking the Pacific.

If you like great, natural spa-type areas, Big Sur is beautiful. Ventana was my parents's favorite spot, though I believe you need to plan ahead and make reservations.

Rocky Point steakhouse used to be good, but I think it may have fallen off a bit in quality. Nonetheless, their view and romantic atmosphere can't be beat.

Further north, Pigeon Point lighthouse is beautiful and fairly empty of tourists. The elephant seals mate near there, it's pretty neat to go on a tour.
 

matadorpoeta

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thanks for the recs so far, i plan to check out all the places mentioned, except for the hiking. i'm familiar with santa barbara (i love montecito), so i may skip it all together unless someone knows of a specific attraction there.

if anyone knows of specific sites/attractions please post. so far all i have from friends is "drive through solvang, drive through cambria, walk around..."

whodini, i'm curious why you say hearst castle is only worth a couple of hours, as it is the main purpose of this trip. i was told it takes a few days to see the whole thing.
 

haganah

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Originally Posted by matadorpoeta
i'm planning a trip to san simeon to visit hearst castle and would like to know what places you recommend i visit between here (l.a.) and there. i've been told i should drive through solvang, and that there is a small town near solvang i should see, though i cannot recall the name right now. what other places should i see? i'm specifically thinking of carmel, monterey, pismo beach (because bugs bunny mentioned it so often), pebble beach (though i don't golf), santa barbara, etc...

i'm willing to devote as many as 4 days to this trip, if there are good times to be had.


Solvang? seriously? that artificial narchy darchy streudel place?
 

matadorpoeta

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Originally Posted by haganah
Solvang? seriously? that artificial narchy darchy streudel place?

i heard it used to be cool, has lost much of it's charm, but is still worth a visit if you haven't been there.
 

whodini

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Originally Posted by GoSurface
Any insight on LA? I might be going in August to visit a friend. Is everyone there drinking the cool-aid? I always say I'm too East coast for LA.
You mean aside from WeHo?
Originally Posted by matadorpoeta
whodini, i'm curious why you say hearst castle is only worth a couple of hours, as it is the main purpose of this trip. i was told it takes a few days to see the whole thing.
You really want to see the whole thing? Well...I guess you can do that if you've got a serious need for the place. Most people just take a tour and head out. I think there about four different tours during the day and one at night. YMMV, but as much as I like the place, I can't imagine being there the full day since several tours overlap. There's a 15-20 min ride up to the top on a tram but I'm not sure if you can stay up at the top to continue on another tour or not. Probably. If I were you, I'd plan on hitting it on the way up to Monterey, check it out, and if you're still that obsessed with seeing everything, hit it again on the way back down. Solvang is a bit kitche but is still "worth" seeing. I normally just pass through it on the way to the vineyards or pick up some pastries at the most.
 

matadorpoeta

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Originally Posted by whodini
You really want to see the whole thing? Well...I guess you can do that if you've got a serious need for the place. Most people just take a tour and head out. I think there about four different tours during the day and one at night. YMMV, but as much as I like the place, I can't imagine being there the full day since several tours overlap. There's a 15-20 min ride up to the top on a tram but I'm not sure if you can stay up at the top to continue on another tour or not. Probably.

If I were you, I'd plan on hitting it on the way up to Monterey, check it out, and if you're still that obsessed with seeing everything, hit it again on the way back down.

Solvang is a bit kitche but is still "worth" seeing. I normally just pass through it on the way to the vineyards or pick up some pastries at the most.


i read a book about it when i was about 9 or 10, and i remember there being trap doors, hidden rooms, and such. i'm intrigued enough that i would like to take at least 2 of the tours, so i think it's good advice you give. i might take the main tour on the way up, and depending on how it goes, see the 'advanced' tour on the way down.
 

HORNS

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I recommend going to Moss Landing, which is right in the middle of Monterrey Bay. From there, you can take a boat out onto the bay and see gray whales, blue whales, and killer whales. There's a great seafood joint there with outstanding artichokes. There are also some pretty cool antique shops as well.
 

GQgeek

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You should stop by and visit matt. I've heard that if you perform sexual favors for him he will give you free ties.
 

SoCal2NYC

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I've lived in Santa Barbara and Monterey Bay.
Feel free to private msg. me if you need anything.
 

matadorpoeta

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Originally Posted by HORNS
I recommend going to Moss Landing, which is right in the middle of Monterrey Bay. From there, you can take a boat out onto the bay and see gray whales, blue whales, and killer whales. There's a great seafood joint there with outstanding artichokes. There are also some pretty cool antique shops as well.

thanks for this.

Originally Posted by GQgeek
You should stop by and visit matt. I've heard that if you perform sexual favors for him he will give you free ties.


i'm of legal drinking age. he likes them young.

Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC
I've lived in Santa Barbara and Monterey Bay.
Feel free to private msg. me if you need anything.


anything?
 

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