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While still not as popular as other California tourist meccas like Tahoe or Disneyland, the Central California Coast has steadily risen as a vacation locale in recent years. The professionals appear to be catching on. Condé Nast Traveler included the Central Coast on its newly released “The 23 Best Places to Go in 2023” list. As a result, the Central Coast now ranks alongside classics like Egypt and Vienna as ideal travel destinations.

In constructing the list, Condé Nast Traveler wanted to include “a mix of old favorites worth visiting anew, and lesser-trammeled, even once-forbidden, regions ready to welcome travelers.”

Editors from Condé Nast’s United States, Britain, Spain and India divisions all helped in finalizing the list. The Central Coast is the first California destination to make a Condé Nast Traveler’s end-of-year list since Healdsburg in 2020. Memphis, British Columbia and the Yucatán Peninsula were the only other North American destinations named to the list. 

Jen Murphy, a Condé Nast Traveler contributor, wrote the list’s Central Coast section. Condé Nast is known for its foodie reputation, so it’s no surprise Murphy emphasized the Central Coast’s vineyards as justification for its inclusion. “A patchwork of laid-back beach towns, trail-laced redwood forests, and vineyards producing standout Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay,” Murphy wrote. She compared towns like Los Alamos and Los Olivos to Joshua Tree, a once little-known but now uber-popular California destination. Paso Robles’ Michelin-starred Six Test Kitchen got a shoutout, too. 

Loyal SFGATE readers also know that destinations like Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, Mee Heng Low Noodle House in San Luis Obispo and the Elkhorn Bar in San Miguel are all superb reasons to visit the Central Coast. The three historic landmarks (the 95-year-old Mee Heng Low Noodle House is the youngest of the trio) prove that while tourist magazines may just be catching on to the Central Coast, the region has as rich of a history as anywhere on the West Coast. 

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