Category Archives: Watersports

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.

 

Huntington Beach, California, Surf City USA

Huntington Beach epitomizes the laid back California surfer lifestyle.  In a parking lot next to their vintage VW microbus, surfers get into their wetsuits and head for the waves.

For many, the 1959 Gidget movie was their first introduction to California’s vibrant surf culture.  The real life inspiration for Gidget, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman,  grew up surfing the waves in Malibu. She told her surfing stories to her father, a Hollywood writer, and the rest as they say, is history.

Surfer on Huntington Beach

Surfboards have become smaller and lighter and there isn’t a beach in California that hasn’t been surfed.

Things to do

Largest surfboard ever built at the International Surfing Museum

Get the fascinating history of surfing at The International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach .  On display outside the museum is the world’s largest surfboard, used to break the Guinness World Record for the most people riding a surfboard (66). Should the record need to be defended, the giant board will come down.

Huntington Harbour Boat Rentals

For some time on water without waves, head to Huntington Harbour  Boat Rentals for a two-hour self-captained cruise of tranquil Huntington Harbour – also perfect for swimming or paddle boards.

Where to Stay in Huntington Beach

Pasea Hotel & Spa

The Pasea Hotel & Spa is Huntington Beach’s newest luxury hotel, just a block away from the famous Pier.  All the incredible art work in the Pasea lobby has a beach theme.

“Wavelength 4” by Jorge Dubin, Pasea Hotel & Spa Lobby

The playful “Wavelength 4” by Jorge Dubin, made from 1400 flip flops, was created specifically for the Pasea Hotel & Spa.

Aarna Spa at The Pasea Hotel

You’re in good hands (pun intended) at the Balinese-inspired Aarna Spa in the Pasea Hotel & Spa. The skilled masseuses apply just the right amount of pressure. It’s rare to find a spa with salt water whirlpools.

Where to Eat

Tanner’s Huntington Beach

The Acai (ah-sah-EE) Berry Bowl makes a great breakfast at Tanner’s Huntington Beach. A natural cholesterol controller, the acai  berry also has natural antioxidant properties. Head to the popular Watertable at the  nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel (reservations recommended)  for a more classic take on breakfast.

Red Table, Huntington Beach

The Red Table has great specials for lunch. Try their pistachio-encrusted sole or the rich and tasty crab cakes  – just be sure to save room for their broken banana cream pie – best enjoyed with their caramel-flavored Kentucky bourbon draft beer.

The Signature dessert at Bluegold

When it’s time for dinner, it’s  a 5 minute walk to Bluegold in  the nearby Pacific City Mall. Try one of their inventive cocktails – like the “LA Confidential”  made with rye, bourbon and Pom molasses . The chef-driven California fusion menu offers a wide range of flavors. Try the wood -fired burrata pizza with fried rosemary, shaved pistachio and orange oil or the steam kettle shellfish pot in a spicy Vietnamese tomato curry (think tom yum) or even the salt-roasted beets and yellowtail sashimi.

SeaLegs Wine Bar on Beach Boulevard  also has a great selection of wine and California cuisine. Try their baked Alaskan halibut on pesto rice or salmon baked in parchment paper.