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Monterey County has some of the world’s best golf courses

Avila is a quiet, friendly small beach town

Carmel State Beach is just steps away from restaurants and shopping

Kayaking is popular at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Bicyclists take a rest at Monterey Harbor

Ride a wooden roller coaster at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

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Get the best of both California worlds in the central coast region


The central coast region offers a perfect balance for visitors who aren’t sure if they want the sunny surfing beaches and entertainment attractions of the south state or the gorgeous coastlines and bucolic beach towns of the north.


It’s hard to find more perfect weather than in the central coast, with mostly sunny moderate temperatures year-round. This begs for outdoor activities, like biking and hiking throughout the pastoral rolling hills, giant redwood forests and scenic shoreline paths or surfing, swimming and kayaking off the sandy beaches. This area is also famous for having some of the most spectacular golf courses in the country.


First-timers must visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. With an annual attendance of 1.8 million visitors and 623 separate named species on display, this is the place to go to see myriad wonders of the sea in one place. Within walking distance is Cannery Row, with plenty of excellent seafood restaurants and shopping opportunities.


For a shopping paradise, be sure to set aside a day for browsing through the  boutiques and art galleries lining the quaint European-village-style streets in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Then take some time to enjoy English tea at one of the cottage-style teahouses lining the streets.


Other seaside towns worth a visit are San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz, each offering city amenities with small-town charm. For a unique California experience, visit Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where you can get a view of lush green mountains on one side and a sparkling beach on the other -- from atop a classic wooden roller coaster.


Another must-see is Hearst Castle, California’s answer to the medieval royal manors. Built by wealthy landowners in the early 1900s, this opulent sweeping estate must be seen to be believed.


Then, to rest after all this activity, spend a day relaxing in the redwoods of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park or one of the region’s quiet beach towns.