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10 Wonderful California Coastal Stops

California's Pacific Coast Highway 1 stretches for more than 650 miles and has so many great opportunities for sight seeing along the way.

Although there are many fabulous larger cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, there are also many smaller, quaint towns and cities that have much to offer.

Following are 10 fabulous options that are all easily accessible from Highway 1 and offer their own distinctive character and charm.

1. Fort Bragg has great coastal views and also features the lovely Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, coined as the "gardens by the sea". And, if you like wine, don't miss the beautiful Pacific Star Winery with its stunning coastal views.

2. Mendocino Village is on a hilly peninsula that is surrounded by bluffs on three sides. Many of the town's early settlers were from New England and the architecture reflects this influence with many Victoria-era houses.

3. Capitola Village by the Sea is one of the oldest vacation retreats on the Pacific Coast. It has a Mediterranean-style atmosphere with colorful buildings, Victorian homes, and many boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.

4. Moss Landing is the quintessential quaint, artsy town with a population of just 200 people or so. One of the largest wetlands in California, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, is located here attracting over 300 species of migratory birds.

5. Monterey may take you longer than a day to visit and is most famously known for both its aquarium and the beautiful 17 Mile Drive that twists and turns around the coast.

6. Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its rich artistic history and natural beauty. It will whisk you off your feet if you've never been there. There are luxurious accommodations to pamper yourself with but still a great village-like atmosphere.

7. San Simeon is home to the famous Hearst Castle, the hilltop estate of William Randolph Hearst, the successful media mogul. The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery also exists here with the activities of numerous seal mammals easily accessible for viewing to the public.

8. Cambria has rugged coastal views available from the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and the fascinating Moonstone Beach with its unique translucent stones that light the shoreline.

9. Morro Bay is one of the few remaining fishing villages along the coast and has a newly constructed waterfront boardwalk that will take you to the edge of the back bay. Another great activity is a harbor cruise to catch all the sea creatures in the area.

10. Oxnard tends to be more urban although the western side of the town has a sandy beach area with dunes and some great walking trails. There really is a "Hollywood Beach" located here since there's quite a number of celebrities who live here. Oxnard also produces some of the sweetest strawberries in the country!

When you're ready to book your trip to the West Coast, let me know and I'll be ready to help. There's so much to see and do there and it's not only about the fabulous larger cities and great wine regions as you can see by these options!

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