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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunset at Salinas River State Beach in Monterey County at the northern end of the central coast

The Central Coast is an area of California, United States, roughly spanning the area between the Monterey Bay and Point Conception. It extends through Santa Cruz County, San Benito County, Monterey County, San Luis Obispo County, and Santa Barbara County. It is also sometimes considered to include the northern part of Ventura County.

The Central Coast is also the location of the Central Coast American Viticultural Area.



The central coast area was originally inhabited by Chumash and other Native American people since at least 10,000 BC. Many of these settlements were coastal, where the people exploited marine resources and dwelt near freshwater inflows to the Pacific Ocean. For example there were significant settlements near the mouth of Morro Creek and Los Osos Creek.[1]

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo visited California's Central Coast, landing in Santa Barbara County in 1542, having sailed from the south.[2]


The region is known primarily for agriculture and tourism. Major crops include lettuce, strawberries, and artichokes. The Salinas Valley is one of the most fertile farming regions in the United States. Tourist attractions include Cannery Row (in Monterey), the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the theatres, galleries and white sand beaches of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the golf courses of Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula, the rugged coastline of Big Sur and Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The area is not densely populated. The largest city in the region is Salinas, California, with approximately 150,000 people. University of California campuses are found in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, on the extreme north and south edges of the region, respectively. California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), founded in 1994, is located within the central coast area itself, using facilities donated when Fort Ord was converted from military to civilian uses. In San Luis Obispo, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) was founded in 1901.


Travel is almost entirely by private automobile. However, Monterey-Salinas Transit operates bus services throughout Monterey County as far south as Big Sur on the coast and King City in the Salinas Valley. MST also offers connection service to San Jose Diridon Station. Santa Cruz Metro Offers services within Santa Cruz County including connections to San Jose and San Jose State and connection to MST service in Watsonville, heading south to Salinas. Also, Greyhound Bus Serves most of the region. Amtrak maintains train service with the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner routes. Because of its position roughly halfway between the major cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is home to America's first motel. There are no major airports, although Monterey, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo have regional airports with commuter service. The only major highway in the area is U.S. Route 101, which runs north-south from Los Angeles, through most of the major communities of the entire central coast, to San Francisco. A smaller but much more scenic route (Big Sur, Morro Bay, San Simeon) State Route 1, connects the coastal communities together.

Gallery of Central Coast locations (by city)

See also


  1. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2008) Morro Creek, ed. by A. Burnham [1]
  2. ^ Kathleen Thompson Hill and Gerald Hill (2004) Santa Barbara and the Central Coast: California's Riviera, Globe Pequot, pages ISBN 0762728108

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