Escape from L.A.

Some three hours north of L.A., along the beautiful coastal drive up the Pacific Highway, past the alien landing crafts stowed at Vandenburg Air Force Base, is the sleepy surf town of Pismo Beach, in what is known as the Five Cities area of the Central California Coast - or rather, Wine Country, and its hamlets and towns of Arroya Grande, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Santa Maria, and Morro Bay. On the way out of L.A., stick to Highway 1 to get the full taste of seaside surf, and keep speeds low to drop off the side and clamber over train tracks to hidden beaches.

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