The coastal stretch of California’s San Luis Obispo County contains some of the best coastal experiences in the world—from impressive mansions to unforgettable flavors. Your next planned route into the Central Coast should showcase the deep historical roots, natural wildlife, and cycling-friendly people of the Central Coast that you can’t miss.
From the experiences of the many cyclists who have either ridden the California Coast or have called it home, here are some locations you must see!
Hearst Castle – Ride Through Central Coast History
This world-renowned pinnacle of estate planning is a marvel of vision and ingenuity! Turning off Highway 1 in San Simeon to Hearst Castle Road leads to a winding uphill ride to Hearst Ranch and Hearst Castle. When open, you can park your bicycle and take tours of the grandeur curated by William Randolph Hearst, who turned 45,000 acres of Central Coast land into a 270,000-acre estate. Among the many unique ideas Hearst had while developing the estate was to import exotic non-native wildlife, such as zebras, and have them live on the estate’s ranch.
Olallieberry Pie – A Cycling Destination For Your Taste Buds
Daresay, we call olallieberry the official fruit of the Central Coast! This unique mix between a blackberry and raspberry has a signature flavor unlike any other—sweet, tart, and FULL of juice. Most notably, the olallieberry has been worked into a famous pie by the Linn family on the Central Coast. The olallieberry pie and other products at Linn’s Restaurant and Linn’s Farm Stand in Cambria are perfect carb-loads after a good day’s ride. Who says delicious fruit flavors can’t be a cycling experience?
Morro Rock – A Natural Wonder
This enormous volcanic cap in Morro Bay can be seen in panoramic ocean views in many parts of the Central Coast. Whether riding into Morro Bay or just passing by on Highway 1, Morro Rock is a staple photo opportunity during a vista point stop. However, as you cycle from Highway 1 and continue toward the state landmark, the rock gets bigger until you realize the true size and significance of its 581-foot stature. Rarely anywhere else can you experience a place on the coastline that serves as a relic to the volcanic history of our world’s formation.
Piedras Blancas Light Station – Central Coast Maritime History
Not far away from Hearst Castle is another historic monument that helped ships navigate the rocky coastline in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. This monument of maritime history was built and started operations in 1875. Additions throughout the decades helped generations of fleets dock at the piers south of Big Sur, spurring commerce in the Central Coast area. The Piedras Blancas Light Station sits off Highway 1, north of San Simeon and south of Big Sur. You can take a self-guided ride through the scenic trail around the lighthouse or reserve a tour and go through layers of history and experience one of the best hidden cycling destinations of the Western Coast.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
This 100% free and open rookery south of the Light Station along Highway 1 is one of the largest landing spots for the west coast’s unique elephant seals. While there are optimal seasonal viewing times, elephant seals call the rookery home all year long. Check out the pups departing for the sea on your current or next visit.
Edna Valley – The Cycling Destination of Relaxation
The Central Coast is home to many notable wineries in Cambria, San Simeon, and Avila Beach. However, a string of wineries and vineyards in Edna Valley dot one of our routes, northeast of Avila Beach. Ride along the Edna Valley Route, which loops with Corbett Canyon Road, Tiffany Ranch Road, Orcutt Road, Biddle Ranch Road, and Edna Road. The route combines the rolling hills of the Central Coast with locally grown and aged wine. It’s a cyclist-sommelier’s heaven—a worthy cycling experience.