Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the four hundred or so miles of the Central Coast are home to a few modestly sized cities and lined by clean, sandy beaches and dramatic stretches of cliffs and capes. Of the various highlights, Big Sur is one of the most rugged and beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, Santa Barbara is a wealthy resort full of old and new money, and Santa Cruz is a coastal town with multiple identities. In between, languorous San Luis Obispo makes a good base for visiting Hearst Castle, the hilltop palace of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Almost all of the towns grew up around the original Spanish Catholic missions, many of which feature their original architecture – Monterey, 120 miles south of San Francisco, was California’s capital under Spain and Mexico, and briefly the state capital in 1850.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

Ticked off New York City’s big sights and wondering where to go next? From sinking a pint in Brooklyn's Red Hook to sampling Italian delicacies in The Bronx, …

11 Apr 2017 • Stephen Keeling insert_drive_file Article
In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

Wild West – we all feel something when we see or hear those words. But why? How much is true and how much is fantasy? Our editor Neil McQuillian took to the (…

06 Apr 2017 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, glaciers to coo over and a bevy of bears to photograph, Alaska is the ultimate wilderness – and this year is the per…

30 Mar 2017 • Sarah Reid camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month