SAN LUIS OBISPO: Culture, Wine, & the Outdoors
shore of magnificent Monterey Bay. A city of 65,000, it boasts alternative lifestyles and innovative education at the University of California Santa Cruz along with the proudly retro 1907 Santa Cruz Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Pier. The boardwalk, flanking mile-long Santa Cruz Beach, showcases the charming 1911 Loolf Carousel and adrenaline joys of the Big Dipper, a 1924 wooden roller coaster. The boardwalk is a prime place to score corn dogs (“made from a secret family recipe’’), chocolate-covered bacon, deep-fried Twinkies and other bellybusters while you watch surfers shoot the curl. The world’s first Surfing Museum is right nearby. Inland, the shops of Pacific Avenue offer plenty of retail therapy and health-minded markets and eateries. North of town via Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains is Henry Cowell State Park, with its old-growth forest of California’s soaring signature trees: redwoods. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean 11 miles to the west and the Santa Lucia Mountains just to the east, this central coast city of 45,000 is located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Easily accessible by train on Amtrak or via U.S. Highway 101 and famously scenic California Route 1, the historic core of the city clusters around the 1759 Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. This is the place to find restaurants, cafés and shops. Music and theater productions are mounted on the campus of California Polytechnic Institute (“Cal Poly’’). Outdoorsy visitors and locals alike hike and bike the Nine Sisters hills. The marineminded head to the sometimes-chilly, foggy coast with their wetsuits for surfing, kayaking and windsurfing. South of the city is prime territory for winery touring and tasting: the expansive Edna Valley wineproducing region.
LONG BEACH: Arts, Aquatics & the Queen Mary
A frequent stand-in for national and global locations in television, video and film shoots, Long Beach is very much itself. Boasting 5.5 miles of sandy beaches, the city of 470,000 some 20 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles is home to a major ocean cargo port and an outpost of aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Since 1967, the 1930s Art Deco ocean liner Queen Mary has been permanently anchored there. Now a hotel
TEMECULA CITY HALL FOUNTAIN, right; the Cal Poly campus and San Luis Obispo from above, bottom; West Hollywood at night, opposite.