The following excerpt is taken from Lonely Planet. The full article can be seen here.
Top 10 US travel destinations for 2014 - Central Coast, CA
While Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 covers global must-sees, including Chicago and Texas, here we delve a bit deeper and showcase the top 10 places in the US that should be on travelers’ radars in the coming year. There’s something for all – beachcombers, nature lovers, beer aficionados, history buffs, road trippers, dice rollers – from every corner of the land. Whether quietly emerging destinations or perennial favorites, these places have new or timely angles that make them prime for visiting in 2014. So whatever your upcoming dream vacation, we’ve got some U-S-of-A inspiration for you.
4. Central Coast, CA
Often dismissed as flyover country between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this surreally scenic stretch of the Pacific coast is California at its best. Laid-back beach towns, sea-hugging Hwy 1 (one of the USA’s most iconic roadways), cliff-top lookouts, hidden coves, sea lion colonies and other wildlife, fantastical Hearst Castle, Spanish missions, pleasant weather (even if it’s foggy) and no crowds. Dip inland to the up-and-coming Paso Robles wine country for scenery rivaling Napa and Sonoma. Back to the coast, after gasping at the raw beauty and energy of the 100-mile stretch of craggy coastline that is Big Sur, stop at the world-renowned, ecoconscious Monterey Bay Aquarium, who celebrates their 30th birthday this year. (To beat the aquarium crowds, buy tickets in advance and arrive when the doors open. The jellyfish exhibit is otherworldly.)
Outstanding farmers markets dot the coast. Check out Santa Barbara’s on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and San Luis Obispo’s, which turns into a full-on street festival every Thursday evening.
Here's our ultimate Central California Coast road trip.