101 Spotlight: Free Beautiful Sights Around the County
Glistening pools of water in tide pools, jagged and striking cliffs, and rolling hills that lead to peaceful valleys: these are just a sampling of the beautiful sights that you can witness every day when you visit the Central Coast. This area is certainly not lacking in things to do outdoors, and many activities in our “101 Reasons to Exit Highway 101 Guide” also happen to be places that have fantastic views. Another great thing about these beautiful places that you don’t have to pay anything at all to visit them; there are never any admittance fees or parking fees in these beautiful local places that we have to offer. So, check out the following highlighting of some of the free, beautiful places all around the county, and be sure to look back at our 101 Guide for more inspiration!
The Elfin Forest is a 30 acre natural area near Morro Bay, California. It’s part of the Morro Bay Estuary, which we’ve talked about in a previous blog post. The forest gets its name from the oak trees that are stunted in growth due to natural factors in the coastal landscape. While oak trees in nearby Morro Bay can grow up to 40 feet, here they are only about 10 feet and some are as small as four feet tall. Elfin Forest has a long boardwalk that is perfect for exploring and discovering beautiful and diverse plant species and habitats. Check it out next time you head to the Morro Bay Area!
Montana De Oro
Nothing compares to Montana de Oro’s natural beauty, with stunning cliff landscapes, rocky caves, and challenging hikes with beautiful views of the ocean and the surrounding forest. Montana de Oro is filled to the brim with beautiful views and unique landscapes that are absolutely free, and is a haven for lovers of the outdoors. For a challenge, try hiking the 1,347 foot Valencia Peak; we promise you’ll be stunned by the panoramic view from the top! Another must-stop in the expansive state park is Spooner’s Cove, where you can sit on the sand and relax or take pictures on the rock formations, all while enjoying the crisp ocean breeze.
Visitors to our hotels and to the Central Coast in general are always excited by the prospect of seeing whales in the Pacific. Come in their peak season between December and May and we guarantee you’ll see gray, humpback, and blue whales coasting through. It’s always incredible to witness such gigantic, beautiful creatures undisturbed in their own habitat, and it’ll give you a great photograph to take home!
Bishop’s Peak is one of the highest recommended hikes in San Luis Obispo, and you’ll get a feel for the community when you brave the moderate, uphill trail on a weekend afternoon. Residents and tourists say “hello” as you pass by, and everyone is out there looking to have a good time. The view from the top is fantastic; you’ll see the local university, Cal Poly SLO, the entire city of San Luis Obispo, and several of the nearby “Seven Sisters” – volcanic plugs that dot the landscape of the Central Coast. Don’t miss the chance to experience an essential part of the SLO life!
Edna Valley Wine Region
Pair a phenomenal view with a crisp glass of white wine and you’ll really experience what the Central Coast is all about. You can do this and more in Edna Valley, an AVA (American Viticultural Area) just south of San Luis Obispo and less than 10 miles away from the ocean. It has beautiful, rolling hills, small country roads that lead to wineries, and of course, sprawling vineyards that seem to go on forever. One stop with a great view is Edna Valley Vineyard; the tasting room has huge windows that serve to frame and highlight the beautiful landscape outside.