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The Central Coast is an area of California, extending from Santa Cruz in the north to Santa Barbara in the south, but centering primarily on Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties.

Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo set a precedent for future chamber of commerce officials when he described the Central Coast as "the land of endless summers." A tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this region is tagged the Middle Kingdom. It is a realm of small towns in lovely settings. Agriculture defines life amid the golden rolling hills, and the many coastal locales make idyllic destinations. 

The Central Coast is by far one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and most scenic part of California and offers world-famous scenery, decent surfing opportunties, kite surfing launch spots and sport fishing. This region is home to Big Sur, San Simeon and Pismo Beach, all of which have been regularly featured in commercials and movies. The region is known primarily for agriculture and tourism. Major crops include lettuce, strawberries, and artichokes. In particular, the Salinas Valley is one of the most fertile farming regions in the United States. Popular tourist attractions include Cannery Row (in Monterey), the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the golf courses of Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula, the rugged coastline of Big Sur and Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

Overall, the area is not very densely populated, not surprising considering that the primary industry is agriculture. The largest city in the region is Salinas, with approximately 150,000 people. Due to the low population density of the central coast, educational and cultural resouces are relatively scarce. University of California campuses are found both in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, on the extreme north and south edges of the region, respectively. One of the universities found within the central coast area itself is California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), founded in 1994 using facilities donated when Fort Ord was converted from military to civilian uses. In San Luis Obispo the state university California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) was founded in 1901, and has been in full operation for decades. This campus is the sister campus of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Travel through the area is almost entirely by private automobile, since mass transit is limited to a handful of municipal bus lines. 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. The only major highway in the area is 101, which runs north-south throughout the entire central coast. This highway runs from Los Angeles, over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and connects the Central Coast to the Bay Area in the north. A smaller but much more scenic route (Big Sur, Morro Bay, San Simeon) California State Route 1, connects the many coastal communities together.

Some of the most visited places along the Central Coast are San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, Pacifica, Ventura County, Solvang, and Monterrey Bay.  Santa Barbara is the best place to start exploring the region. It is a town that offers everything you could want: from whale watching to golf, from skating to museums and historic buildings.


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