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Escape to the San Luis Obispo County coast

When considering San Luis Obispo County as a travel destination, wine-rich Paso Robles is the preferred place for food lovers.

We're drawn to another part of the county, however: the costal towns strung along Highway 1. Laid-back and picturesque, beach hamlets like Morro Bay and Cayucos have their own noteworthy culinary identities.

Dorn's Breakers Café, which looks out on the rugged dome of Morro Rock, specializes in seafood-laden brunch. Eggs are served alongside local Petrale sole or red snapper, while the Hangtown omelet is filled with sweet Pacific oysters sautéed with mushrooms and white wine.

Dinner at Cayucos' Cass House features the best of the region, from land to sea. The ever-changing four-course menu ($64; wine pairing for $28) often includes Cayucos-farmed abalone, and a charcuterie plate featuring grassy bresaola made from beef raised on pastures surrounding Hearst Castle.

Hiking the headlands above an endless string of rocky beaches, elephant-seal-watching at Piedras Negras, or a visit to Hearst Castle are all a short drive away.

Be sure to pick up some local goods before heading home. Templeton's Nature's Touch sells local produce, meat and laying hens, or stop at Giovanni's Fish Market in Morro Bay and check out the local catch.