Some of our favorite places to stay, sip, eat and shop along the way to Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast, September 24-27, 2015
Ultimate Culinary Road Trip: San Francisco Bay Area to San Luis Obispo
Thomas J. Story/Sunset Publishing
Thomas J. Story/Sunset Publishing

Before heading south, spend an afternoon exploring the Sonoma County wine country, then dine at Spoonbar in Healdsburg, where rising chef Louis Maldonado’s contemporary American cuisine is both inventive and approachable. Across from San Francisco in Sausalito, award-winning author and PBS cooking series host Joanne Weir’s Copita Tequileria y Comida has earned national acclaim for its seasonal and modern Mexican dining.

If you’re looking to pick up snacks for the trip, stop at San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace for everything from organic produce to artisan chocolates, then rev up with a single-origin espresso at Blue Bottle Coffee. Drive the coast to Half Moon Bay’s waterfront Sam’s Chowder House for a lobster roll that The Today Show named one of America’s five best sandwiches. In a breakfast mood? LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle on Monterey’s waterfront cooks up irresistible chocolate-chip griddle cakes and local specialities, including calamari steak with eggs.

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A short hop off Highway 1, Carmel-by-the- Sea may be better known for art galleries but with numerous tasting rooms, it’s the perfect place to discover Monterey County wines. Continue 30 miles south on Highway 1 to Nepenthe Restaurant, a definitive Big Sur experience thanks to sweeping coastal views and famous ambrosia burgers. Celebrated in Brigit Binns’ Eating Up the West Coast and easily reached from Hearst Castle, the Sebastian General Store dates to 1852 and serves tri-tip and burgers made with grass-fed Hearst Ranch beef, plus the ranch’s wines in the tasting room. Little more than a shack by the beach, Ruddell’s Smokehouse in Cayucos uses delectably smoked salmon and albacore in its fish tacos.