We, Scott and I, have enjoyed the Central Coast of California so much in the past 6 years; I thought I'd share my stories and Scott's pictures with you so that you can enjoy it too - virtually and/or actually.
We fly to San Francisco, rent a car and head south. Hwy 101 runs through San Mateo, Palo Alto, San Jose and then it gets really interesting. The mountains are many shades of green from the freshest spring green to the deepest forest green. Sometimes, depending on the season, they are covered with wildflowers, yellow, mauve or the brilliant mango-orange of California poppies. The colors are a real treat after leaving a landscape in southern Ontario that is white and grey. Sometimes I find the abundance of color overwhelms my senses and my eyes well up with tears at the beauty of these dramatic landscapes.
Near Hwy 156 to the Monterey Peninsula, there is a steep descent, tunnel-like, lined with eucalyptus trees. I always roll down the windows to savor their distinctive smell. We are here; this really is California!
If you want to break your journey and do some sightseeing you can turn onto Hwy 156 east towards Hollister. In San Juan Bautista the mission is a well-maintained parish church dating from 1797 (http://www.oldmissionsjb.org/). The town has the atmosphere of an old California country settlement. El Camino Real (Hwy 101) is the route that the Spanish priests took in the 1700's to establish churches and settlements throughout California.
By the way: we rent a car from and agency in San Francisco, which reduces the cost considerably. A taxi to SF costs about $40 and the BART costs just over $8 per person from the Embarcadero to the airport.