by Jeff Hoyt of Gayot.com
When people think of Northern California, their thoughts often turn to San Francisco. Southern California cities that come to mind include Los Angeles and San Diego. But what about the Central Coast of California? Unlike other parts of the Golden State, there are no large cities in the area, allowing the focus to be on its natural beauty. As you cruise the Pacific Coast Highway south of Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara, you'll enjoy rugged mountain vistas, coastal and ocean views, verdant farmland and picturesque vineyards.
Sandwiched between Northern and Southern California makes the Central Coast an easy place to visit for Californians as well as visitors from around the world looking for a different experience than Disneyland and the Golden Gate Bridge. Although the weather is pleasant year-round, we think the best time to visit is during the harvest.
Visitors can pick apples or go on an agricultural tour in Avila Beach, golf in San Luis Obispo, visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon, sail through the skies in a hot air balloon, or taste their way through wineries. In fact, Paso Robles has the state's third-biggest wine region behind Napa and Sonoma.
We recommend a visit to the region during the Sunset SAVOR The Central Coast food and wine lifestyle event. The four-day extravaganza, which begins September 27, caters to those in search of the hottest culinary and wine trends from across the Golden State and the entire West Coast. Celebrate the beauty and the bounty of this coastal region at this annual event in and around San Luis Obispo County that showcases area chefs, artisanal food producers and award-winning winemakers.
To make the event even more tempting, Gayot readers can enjoy a special discount if they buy tickets this month. For more information, call 805-541-8000 or visit www.savorcentralcoast.com. To purchase tickets (Gayot readers receive $25 off with "Gayot" code July 1-July 31, 2012), go to savorthecentralcoast.eventbrite.com/?discount=gayot