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Central Coast (California)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Central Coast
South Coast of Santa Barbara County
Map of the Central Coast region of California.png
Location of the Central Coast in California
(The lighter shaded area includes South Coast counties that are included in some definitions)
CountryUnited States
2,249,558 (All 6 counties combined)
A rare vagrant Ivory Gull on a Central Coast beach
A rare vagrant Ivory Gull on a Central Coast beach

The Central Coast is an area of California, roughly spanning the coastal region between Point Mugu and Monterey Bay. It lies northwest of Los Angeles and south of the San Francisco Bay Area, and includes the rugged, undeveloped stretch of coastline known as Big Sur.[1] From south to north, there are six counties that make up the Central Coast: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz.[2][3]

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

Geographically, the actual midpoint of the California coast lies north of Santa Cruz, near Año Nuevo State Park in San Mateo County.[4] Neither the popular use of the term Central Coast nor that of the California North Coast include the San Francisco Peninsula counties of San Mateo and San Francisco.

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  • Indulge yourself along California’s spectacular central coast
  • Pacific Coast Highway: California Central Coast - California Road Trip Part 2 | Traveling Robert



Big Sur, California
Big Sur, California

The Central Coast area was originally inhabited by Chumash and other Native American people since at least 10,000 BC. Many of these communities were coastal, where the people utilized marine resources and dwelt near freshwater inflows to the Pacific Ocean. For example, there were significant communities near the mouth of Morro Creek and Los Osos Creek.[5]

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo visited the Central Coast, landing in Santa Barbara County in 1542, having sailed from the south.[6]


Central Californian Coastline, Big Sur
Central Californian Coastline, Big Sur

The region is known primarily for agriculture and tourism. Major crops include wine grapes, 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. Further south is Morro Rock and the port city of Morro Bay, which is adjacent to college town San Luis Obispo. The Santa Ynez Valley is home to the Central Coast Film Society,[7] which celebrates filmmakers, cinema and media arts that are from the region, also known as "Hollywood's Backyard."

The area is not densely populated. The largest city in the region is Oxnard in Ventura County, with a population estimated at 203,007 in 2013.[8] University of California campuses are found in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, near the south and north edges of the region respectively. California State University, Monterey Bay, founded in 1994, uses facilities donated when Fort Ord was converted from military to civilian uses. California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, was founded in 1901. California State University Channel Islands opened in Camarillo in 2002, as the 23rd campus in the California State University system.


The six counties that make up the Central Coast region had an estimated population of 2,348,601 according to the 2020 census.[9]

Counties by population

FIPS code[10] County seat[11] Established[11] Formed from Etymology[12] Population[9] Area[11] Map
Ventura County 111 Ventura 1872 Santa Barbara The city of Ventura, itself an abbreviation of San Buenaventura, Spanish for St. Bonaventure. 843,843 1,846 sq mi
(4,781 km2)
State map highlighting Ventura County

Santa Barbara County 083 Santa Barbara 1850 Original The city of Santa Barbara, itself Spanish for Saint Barbara. 448,229 2,738 sq mi
(7,091 km2)
State map highlighting Santa Barbara County

Monterey County 053 Salinas 1850 Original Monterey Bay, itself a Spanish portmanteau of monte ("hill") and rey ("king"). 439,035 3,322 sq mi
(8,604 km2)
State map highlighting Monterey County

San Luis Obispo County 079 San Luis Obispo 1850 Original The city of San Luis Obispo, itself Spanish for Saint Louis, the Bishop. 282,424 3,304 sq mi
(8,557 km2)
State map highlighting San Luis Obispo County

Santa Cruz County 087 Santa Cruz 1850 Original The city of Santa Cruz, itself Spanish for holy cross 270,861 446 sq mi
(1,155 km2)
State map highlighting Santa Cruz County

San Benito County 069 Hollister 1874 Monterey Saint Benedict (San Benedicto in Spanish; Benito is the diminutive of Benedicto). 64,209 1,389 sq mi
(3,597 km2)
State map highlighting San Benito County

Major cities

The following cities had a population over 20,000 as of the 2020 census:[13]


Travel is almost entirely by private automobile. 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. The major highway is U.S. Route 101, which runs north-south from Los Angeles, through most of the major communities of the Central Coast, to San Francisco. State Route 1, a smaller but much more scenic route, connects the coastal communities, running through San Simeon, Morro Bay, and Big Sur. Amtrak maintains train service with the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner routes along the Union Pacific Railroad Coast Line that also transports freight. There are no major airports, although Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo have regional airports with commuter service. Greyhound buses serve most of the region.

Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) 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, downtown Santa Cruz, and Paso Robles and Templeton in Northern San Luis Obispo County via regional routes. 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.

See also


  1. ^ California Central Coast Tourism. Retrieved on 2013-10-01.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Brent, Jon (May 13, 2014). "Covered California enrollment beats projections by wide margin on Central Coast". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Coastal Geographic Center of California".
  5. ^ Map, The Megalithic Portal and Megalith. "Morro Creek". The Megalithic Portal. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Kathleen Thompson Hill and Gerald Hill (2004) Santa Barbara and the Central Coast: California's Riviera, Globe Pequot, pages ISBN 0-7627-2810-8
  7. ^ Central Coast Film Society
  8. ^ "Oxnard (city) Quick Facts". United States Census Bureau. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". United States Census Bureau. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  10. ^ "EPA County FIPS Code Listing". Retrieved February 23, 2008.
  11. ^ a b c National Association of Counties. "NACo - Find a county". Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  12. ^ Sanchez, Nellie Van de Grift (1914). Spanish and Indian Place Names of California: Their Meaning and Their Romance. San Francisco: A. M. Robertson. OCLC 4268886.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 14, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 March 2023, at 02:13
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