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Half Moon Bay Popular day trip and weekend destination for residents of San Francisco.
Santa Cruz Beach town near redwood forests. The historical boardwalk has an amusement park with a 1924 wooden roller coaster.
Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove World famous Cannery Row, world class Monterey Bay Aquarium, quaint storybook like town of Carmel, 17 Mile Drive (Home of Pebble Beach & The Lone Cypress Tree), Point Lobos State Park
Big Sur 90 miles of wild coastline between Carmel and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia mountains rise directly out of the Pacific. Some of the finest scenery in the United States.
Cambria Charming town nestled in a pine forest next to the sea, Hearst Castle, and the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas. Main street has many excellent shops and restaurants. Wine tasting in nearby Paso Robles.
Cayucos Tiny hamlet on the ocean with a pier for strolling.
Morro Bay Known for the large rock sitting at the edge of the harbor (the remnant of a long-dormant volcano), Morro Bay is a quaint fishing village offering kayaking, whale watching and a shopping friendly embarcadero.
The following towns are located along Hwy 101, which Hwy 1 joins at San Luis Obispo...
San Luis Obispo College town with pedestrian-friendly downtown shopping district that includes a historical mission and a creek that runs through the middle of town. Wine tasting region just south of town in Edna Valley, along with many hiking and biking trails.
Avila Beach Family-friendly beach town tucked inside coastal mountains with a pier and wide sandy beach for walking. Avila Beach tends to be sunnier and warmer than other local beaches because it faces south and the surrounding mountains shelter it from sea breezes.
Pismo Beach The only beach in southern California you can actually drive on! Rent OHV's and ride the dunes at Oceano SVRA. Enjoy hummer rides, bi-plane rides, surfing, beachcombing, and funky downtown near beach and pier.
Solvang Danish village near the Los Olivos/Santa Ynez wine country. Near Nojoqui Park with a lovely waterfall, an ostrich farm and horse ranches.
Santa Barbara Also known as the California Riviera. Santa Barbara is well known for its Spanish architecture, palm trees and pleasant year-round climate. Great shopping and dining on State Street.
Ventura Used as a stand-in for Main Street, Small Town America in several movies, Ventura is also a quintessential local beach town, rightly famous for its year round surfing and beach life. Plenty of good, reasonable places to shop and eat.
Here is a forum topic that discusses the travel times between many of these cities.