Category Archives: Activities

Discover California’s Highway 1

California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route is the perfect road trip where you’ll find cool beach towns connected by a winding two-lane highway hugging the dramatic Pacific coastline. One option is to start in Morro Bay and cruise the central coast north past the Hearst Castle up to the Piedras Blanca Elephant Seal Rookery. And since it’s California, don’t miss wine tasting at some of the boutique wineries that make up the Pacific Coast Wine Trail.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay Harbor photo credit: John Cameron

Stay at the Front Street Inn and Spa, located steps from Morro Bay on Embarcardero and you can watch fishing boats from your room. Tourism and commercial fishing are Morro Bay’s main industries. Grab breakfast next door with locals at La Parisienne, known for their croissants.

Windows on The Water, Morro Bay photo credit: John Cameron

Top restaurants in town, both with great views of Morro Bay, include Windows on the Water and The Galley Seafood Grill and Bar. At Windows, try their fresh sand dabs or the locally-sourced Abalone presented in the shell on a bed of seaweed and cucumber salad.

The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar photo credit: Sherel Purcell

At The Galley, have the amazing Blackened Pacific Rockfish. They make an excellent clam chowder too.

Things to do in Morro Bay

Central Coast Outdoors photo credit: John Cameron

Paddle around the shallow Morro Bay Estuary with a kayak from Central Coast Outdoors. Craig, the experienced guide, pointed out seals and sea otters and the thriving oyster farm. Enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch on the sand dunes paired with an excellent local zin and craft beers before kayaking back to the dock.

Morro Rock, a 576 foot high volcanic plug that guards the entrance to the harbor, is Morro Bay’s defining feature – it’s visible for miles around.

Farmer’s Kites and Surreys photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Cycle to the Rock on a bike from Farmer’s Kites and Surreys, located on the Embarcadero. Another good bike trail will take you north past the beach around the cloisters, a wetland bird sanctuary.

If you’re a golfer, constant elevation changes and nary a level lie make The Morro Bay Golf Course a short but challenging track with some great views.

Stroll the Embarcadero and drop into Chateau Margene’s tasting room. Micro winery Chateau Margene, one of the ten wineries that comprise the Pacific Coast Wine Trail, produces only Bordeaux-style wines (Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Franc & Meritage blends) and sells direct to customers and wine clubs.

Cayucos

Drive ten minutes north on Highway 1, to neighboring Cayucos and stop into the Cass House Grill for lunch.

Cass House Grill photo credit: John Cameron

The Cass House Grill features farm to table dishes and the best lobster roll you’ll find anywhere. Their secret? – the grilled milk bread. Try the chef’s delicious cauliflower empanadas – cauliflower, parmesan, mushroom puree, sherry vinegar and truffle oil.

Just up Ocean Avenue from the Cass House Grill is the famous Brown Butter Cookie Company. Butter browned on the stove gives these cookies a rich, nutty taste.

Brown Butter Cookies photo credit: John Cameron

With flavors like citrus, almond, cocoa and espresso, you’ll want to try them all. They also have a second store in Paso Robles.

Harmony

Harmony Cellars photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Nearby, the town of Harmony is home to a boutique winery, Harmony Cellars, another one of the wineries that make up the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. Producing just 7500 cases annually, you won’t find their wine in any BevMo. Try their wonderful Grandpa Barlogio Zinfandel, available only in the tasting room.  Artisans in the glass blowing shop and pottery studio  call Harmony home. It also has the world’s tiniest chapel.

 

Cambria

Cambria makes a perfect stopping point as the Hearst Castle is just 17 minutes away. Located minutes from downtown on Moonstone Beach,  you’re just steps away from  the ocean at The Blue Dolphin Inn.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria photo credit: John Cameron

The moonstone gemstone is said to bring good luck and promotes inspiration. See if you can find some of these tiny gemstones as you stroll the beach.

Top restaurants in Cambria include The Black Cat, Robin’s and Linn’s. Linn’s is THE place for a gourmet breakfast.

Linn’s Restaurant photo credit: John Cameron

Skip the usual English muffin and order your Eggs Benedict on a bed of polenta. The popular bakery features their famous Ollieberry pies.

At Robin’s, diners are serenaded by frogs in the beautiful indoor courtyard featuring live trumpet flower plants.

Robin’s Restaurant photo credit: John Cameron

Try the spinach salad with pecans, cranberries and feta. Or the cioppino and an Indian style tofu curry with carrots and raisins.

San Simeon

William Randall Hearst chose to build his famous castle overlooking a beautiful stretch of the California Highway 1 Discovery Route near San Simeon.

Indoor Roman Pool photo credit: John Cameron

Don’t miss the beautiful Indoor Roman Pool, which consists of a million Murano glass tiles, some with a dazzling layer of gold leaf inside.

Hearst Ranch Winery photo credit: John Cameron

For a relaxed lunch after seeing the Hearst Castle, stop into the historic Sebastian’s Store in San Simeon which features a Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room – your $15.00 tasting fee is refunded with a purchase. Hearst Ranch Winery is another winery on the Pacific Coast Wine Trail.  Try the  tri-tip steak sandwich or a burger made with beef from the Hearst Ranch. A Hearst Ranch Tempranillo  pairs well with a green chili cheeseburger.

 

Our last stop on California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route is the Piedras Blancas Rookery, four miles north of the Hearst Castle.
The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery spreads over 6 miles of shoreline around Point Piedras Blancas.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery photo credit: John Cameron

Before 4 pm, visitors can chat with docents who will explain the life cycle of these huge creatures. Their eyes are ten times more sensitive than ours and their whiskers can detect motion in the water,  helpful in locating prey. The wheelchair accessible viewing areas are open every day of the year and are free.

 

Visit Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Early travellers were drawn to Colorado Springs for the high altitude, sunshine, mineral waters, and dry climate. Present-day travellers visit for many of the same reasons.  At 6,035 ft., Colorado Springs  even surpasses Denver, the mile high city. Most travellers fly into Denver International Airport and drive 75 miles (121km) south on Interstate Highway 25 to Colorado Springs, the second largest city in Colorado.

Where to stay

Terrace Garden of the Gods Resort photo credit: John Cameron

For unparalleled views of The Garden of the Gods Park and Pike’s Peak, stay at the luxurious Garden of the Gods Collection. We loved the over-sized, quiet, comfortable suite, the infinity pool, and the delicious breakfasts.

Things to Do

The poetically named Garden of the Gods, containing 300 million years of geologic history, was donated to Colorado Springs in 1909, with the proviso that it be operated permanently as a city park, open to the public.

Climbers in Garden of the Gods Park photo credit: John Cameron

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are popular activities in the 1334-acre park. If you only have time for one trail, the paved Central Garden Trail is the best introduction to the geology and plants of the Garden. Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center is a Trip Advisor traveller’s choice for #1 park in the US. Admission to the park and the state of the art visitor center is free.

Kissing Camels Golf Course photo credit: John Cameron

Golf at Kissing Camels Golf Club at Garden of the Gods Collection.   J. Press Maxwell and Mark Rathert designed this challenging, well-routed and well maintained 27-hole championship track.   Five sets of tee boxes (look for the colourful camel markers) make this an enjoyable course for every level of golfer.

Cheyenne Mountain Golf Course photo credit John Cameron

Cheyenne Mountain Resort features an immaculately groomed 18-hole Pete Dye championship track designed to challenge golfers at all skill levels.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort boasts tour-quality greens and broad fairways on a course set beside a private, 35-acre lake. Hole nine is a short par four. Keep your tee ball left for a short approach in and a good opportunity for birdie.

Manitou Springs Stagecoach photo credit: John Cameron

Colorado Springs was named for the natural mineral springs in nearby Manitou Springs. This historic, quirky town is known for its mineral water. Manitou Springs’ visitor center can supply you with a map to the springs and a cup. The eight springs (or fountains) are easily found walking along Manitou Avenue. Each spring has a distinctive taste due to the difference in mineral content. Our favorite is the Shoshone Spring, which has the highest lithium content.

Colorado is teeming with natural hot springs but unfortunately, there are no local options for residents and visitors of Colorado Springs. The nearest hot springs are 2 hours drive, depending on the traffic.