Post courtesy of our sister site, Top California Beaches.

Quiet. Romantic. Unspoiled. The top California beaches along the area known as the Central Coast are considered by many to be the most stunning in the state. Often overshadowed by the more populated coastal regions of California, the Central Coast extends as far north as the Monterey Peninsula and includes miles and miles of rugged coastline.

Pictured above: the famous Pfeiffer Arch, Pfeiffer Beach, BIg Sur area. Image courtesy Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Canyons, cliffs, vineyards and valleys form a beautiful backdrop to the blue-green sea, creating endless opportunities for exploring, discovering and enjoying all that the region has to offer. A surfer’s paradise, it is home to many fine campgrounds, and offers easy access to excellent wine tasting as well as hiking and other activities.

From the wide stretches of sand and family fun offered by Pismo, Shell and Avila Beaches, to the rustic charm of Los Osos, Cambria and Cayucos, as well as the breathtaking beauty of Morro Bay and Big Sur — the Central Coast is sure to delight even the most hard to please traveler.

The Pismo/Shell Beach area, pictured above, offers classic California coastal views.

Perhaps the most famous views in California can be found in Big Sur. So striking are the scenes along Highway 1 in this area that it has been designated an American National Scenic Byway & California Scenic Byway — a distinction reserved for those highways that are considered to be destinations themselves. The road winds and curves around rugged cliffs and bluffs leading to the shore below. Watch your driving and pull over frequently to stop and take in the beauty.

The breathtaking views along Highway 1 in Big Sur, pictured above, are world famous. Image courtesy of Big Sur Chamber of Commerce.

One of the most dramatic sights in the Big Sur area is Pfeiffer Beach, surrounded by rugged cliffs and sweeping views up and down the coast, and highlighted by the famous Pfeiffer Arch. Romantic and remote, Pfeiffer Beach is a Top California Beach that you won’t want to miss.

Full of history, including several California Missions, this region has something for everyone. Whether you’re from California, or visiting from out of state or out of country, the Central Coast is definitely worth a visit. See below for links to a few of our favorite lodging choices — all fairly affordable and designed to deliver a true Central Coast experience.

Central Coast Lodging Recommendations