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OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Pacific Grove...
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for Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Monterey County
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OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Hi Kibblesmom and all you other CC experts. My sister and I want to take a trip of about 4 days, starting in Pacific Grove and working our way down the coast, probably as far as Santa Barbara. I was thinking one night in Big Sur, the second near Cambria (want to do Hearst Castle since my sister hasn't been there) and the third in Santa Barbara. My sister likes nature and animals and artsy things; I like comfort (I know, I'm a pill) and animals and botanical gardens (anyone know if the one in Santa Barbara is good?).

So, I'm looking for suggestions for lodging in the three places. I pretty much know what's available in Big Sur, and nothing there thrills me--Ventana is too expensive, and many of the others are frighteningly rustic. My sister is intrigued by Treebones. Any opinions on that?

I remember hearing that you can see elephant seals somewhere down there. Is that right?

Any suggestions for lodging, dining (we both like really good food), places to visit, etc. would be appreciated. Due to my sister's bad knee, strenuous hikes are out, but we could do some mild hiking.

Thanks for your help!

Pacific Grove...
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1. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Oops! Forgot to say--we'll be traveling in late April.

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2. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Hi, Cambria would be a great place to base for your Hearst Castle and Piedras Blancas (elephant seals) part of your trip. I really like the lodging on Moonstone Beach Drive, the Blue Whale, Fireside and Pelican Cove Inn are all very nice places to stay, the Blue Whale is a Bed and Breakfast.

In Cambria, we like the Sow's Ear Cafe, Robin's, Black Cat Bistro, Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill and Linn's for their ollalieberry goodies.

If you don't care about the oceanview, I've heard great things about the Cambria Pines Lodge, they also have a restaurant there, check their website for packages and promotions, I receive e-mails frequently from this property with some really great deals that include dinner.

If you want to stay in San Simeon, the Best Western Cavalier Resort is right on the ocean and looks nice and comfortable, we have not stayed there so I can't comment on the rooms but the property is in a very pretty location, just a short drive into Cambria for the shopping and the meals.

A nice little place for your girls to have tea would be the Tea Cozy in Cambria, a quaint little tea house off of Main St. Enjoy your trip! :)

Pacific Grove...
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3. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Thanks, Syrah. It all sounds wonderful. I'll start exploring the places you mentioned. Thanks, too, for giving me the name of the spot for the elephant seals--I just couldn't recall the name. Take care.

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4. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

I forgot to mention that if you like seafood, the Sea Chest on Moonstone Beach Drive is excellent, they don't take reservations or credit cards here, tho. :)

Forestville...
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5. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Re: Santa Barbara--so many unique, beautiful and visit-worthy sites inc. Mission Santa Barbara, El Presidio State Historic Park, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the County Courthouse (fabulous Spanish/Moorish architecture with a clock tower that affords great views), and yes--the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden which specializes in Calif. native plants in a natural environment (also a Japanese teahouse). But for me the crown jewel of gardens is the privately owned Lotusland estate (www.lotusland.org) in the Montecito area with nearly 40 acres of exotic gardens many with water features. You will need to reserve in advance as access is via docent-led tours. I believe they give public tours all days except Sun. I'm with you on "comfort" so check and and see if those intriguing yurts at Treebones have their own bathroom facilities since I think I've read that they don't. Sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned!

Fresno, CA
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6. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

PG you and I have similar tast in food. We love Hoppe's in Cayucos (20 min down highway 1). Also Taco Temple in Morro Strand for lunch. Nothing fancy, but yum! In fact, we are off this weekend. (let's hope we don't loose electricity or something fun like that) Don't know about lodging, family has house there.

Oh, there is a short walk that you could do along the headlands in Cambria that's easy and what I would consider more of a short walk on the East West ranch between the marine terrace and park hill area. Where ever you stay, they can give you directions on how to get there. (I know how to get there, but don't know the street names)

Pacific Grove...
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7. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Now I'm really getting excited! Thanks, Forestvillian--Lotusland sounds amazing! And Muffya, thanks for the restaurant recommendations. I just talked to my sister, and we're thinking we may be crazy enough to do a hot air balloon trip over Paso Robles. Has anyone ever done that? I also found an olive oil tasting bar--I'm not a drinker, but I could taste olive oil all day long! I won't get drunk--just fat!

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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8. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Hi PGd

syrahgirl gave you great advice on Cambria! Moonstone Beach has many, many inns along this street, but they are all unique and spread out in such a way that it really doesn't feel like "hotel row", especially with the ocean across the street. And the boardwalk trail is great for enjoying a sunset walk.

I drove through the Treebones property last year. Yes, yurts are intriguing, but I found the employee trailers at the bottom of the hill a little tacky. However, if you don't mind sharing a communal restroom and shower, the views are awesome from this property.

Be sure to stop at Ragged Point and take a walk to the back of the property. It's awesome! Last "Big Sur" views poised above the ocean. There's a restroom there, too, if you need one.

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9. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

In Santa Barbara, check out the Montecito area, if you love luxury hotels, take a tour through the Four Seasons Biltmore there, they have a nice restaurant here also if you want to relax with some appetizers and Sparkling water. :)

Don't miss Stearn's Wharf in SB, have some lobster bisque or seafood at the SB Shellfish Co. on the wharf, gorgeous views from here, also. A very nice place for a photo op.

Take a drive up the hill to the El Encanto Hotel, you will have beautiful views of the city and ocean from here, next door is the Riviera Theater, a historic theater where you could catch a flick, we saw Sideways here which was cool.

Shopping on State Street is very nice, they also have an art museum in Santa Barbara. For a nice Italian meal, Olie e Limone is fantastic. :)

Pacific Grove...
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10. Re: OK, you Central Coast Experts! Need Ideas

Thanks Kibbles and Syrah. It looks as though we will skip Santa Barbara (darn) as my sister's time is limited. I'll print out those suggestions and use them next time I'm down there, though.

Now I think we may start in Paso Robles to visit an olive ranch and do the olive oil tasting and then the hot air ballooning the next morning. There's only one ballooning company that I can find, and I'm a little nervous, so if anyone knows anything at all about this topic, I'd love to hear it. After that (if we're still alive), we'll cut across to Cambria for a night and then a night either at Treebones (I could do without the communal bathrooms, but my sister is up for the adventure) OR in Big Sur proper. Ventana is too expensive for us, and the other places (Big Sur Lodge, etc.) sound kind of iffy as to quality. Does anyone know of Big Sur Lodging that I might have missed? It seems to be one extreme or the other down there.

Thanks again for all your input.