Michelin Green Guide:
California

The Michelin Green Guide to California covers the whole state and is good on maps, the sights, major cities and towns, less good on hotels and restaurants.

Pismo Beach SunsetPismo Beach Sunset

This Michelin Green Guide California didn’t get off to the best of starts for me. Naturally the first thing I did was look in the index for ‘Pacific Coast Highway’. It doesn’t appear. Can you possibly write a guide to California without at least one mention of the PCH? Even casting our bias aside – I don’t think so.

Next I looked up a place we’ve been to recently: Cambria. Now Cambria’s a small place, so it doesn’t surprise me that it only warrants one sentence. But that sentence describes Cambria as a ‘languid beach town’.

To call Cambria a beach town is misleading. The main part of town is inland, and while it does have some beaches on the outskirts, like at Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria is not a beach town. Pismo Beach is a beach town.

Looking at somewhere else we’ve been to recently, I turned to the section on La Jolla. ‘La Jolla,’ the guide says, ‘is famed for its boutiques, museums…’ Boutiques, yes, but it only has one museum: the Museum of Contemporary Art. The write-up for the museum says that it puts on temporary exhibitions drawn from its own collection. This is inaccurate too. They draw on more than just their own collection to produce their exhibitions.

Museum of Contemporary Art, La JollaMuseum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla

Photo (c) Donna Dailey

Michelin Green Guide California: Maps

What should be made clear is that the Green in the title merely refers to the color and series of the guide, not to it having any green or eco agenda to it. Having got the nit-picking out of the way, what’s to like? Well, it does have lots of good, clear maps.

Michelin has a wealth of experience in map-making, squeezing and cross-referencing lots of hotels and restaurants onto city maps for their infamous Red Guides. In the Green Guides they work just as well, and if you’re planning on driving the Pacific Coast Highway you’ll find maps to places and areas like Downtown Santa Barbara, the Spanish Missions of California, Historic Monterey, the Monterey Peninsula (including the 17-Mile Drive), and several maps for each of the major cities of San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Hotels and Restaurants

Given how good the Michelin Red Guides are for hotels and restaurants, this Green Guide is surprisingly poor. In the Central Coast area, for example, there’s only one hotel recommendation for Monterey, and two for Santa Barbara.

Restaurants? One in Monterey, one in Santa Barbara, two in Carmel, one in Pacific Grove, and the inevitable Nepenthe for Big Sur. And that’s it – six restaurants listed for almost 250 miles of coast.

Hearst Castle Outdoor PoolHearst Castle Outdoor Pool

Hearst Castle, photo (c) Donna Dailey

Cities, Towns, Sights

The book does do a good job of covering the major cities, towns, and the sights of California, from Disneyland to Hearst Castle, from the National Parks to the State Parks and State Beaches.

With these, the guide seems to give a pretty comprehensive coverage. Hearst Castle gets two pages – just don’t expect any suggestions as to where you might stay when you visit. Disneyland gets seven pages and a good two-page color map. Death Valley National Park has about four pages and a map.

Is the Book Worth Buying?

If you’re planning on driving the Pacific Coast Highway and only stopping at major places like Santa Barbara, Monterey, Carmel, or Big Sur, alongside the main cities, then the book will be a useful companion. If you want to visit smaller places such as Cambria, Half Moon Bay, or Dana Point, then it won’t – they’re hardly mentioned, if mentioned at all.

The guidebook will also be worth considering if you’re also going exploring inland, maybe to wine country, Palm Springs, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, or Death Valley. It’s good on sights and maps, less good on hotels, restaurants, and smaller towns and villages.

Other books pages

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel's book review of Insider's Guide to San Francisco guidebook by Jill Loeffler, publisher of the San Francisco Tourism Tips website.

    Your Insider's Guide to San Francisco

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's book review of Insider's Guide to San Francisco guidebook by Jill Loeffler, publisher of the San Francisco Tourism Tips website.

  • Northwest Wine Country is a food and wine lover's guide to vineyards, fine dining, accommodation, restaurants in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia.

    Northwest Wine Country

    Northwest Wine Country is a food and wine lover's guide to vineyards, fine dining, accommodation, restaurants in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia.

  • Plant lovers can visit hundreds of gardens along or near the Pacific Coast Highway,ranging from lush gardens in the Pacific North-West to southern California.

    Gardens Of the Pacific Coast Highway

    Plant lovers can visit hundreds of gardens along or near the Pacific Coast Highway,ranging from lush gardens in the Pacific North-West to southern California.

  • The guide to California Bed and Breakfast Inns lists over 250 boutique hotels, wine country cottages and more.

    California Bed and Breakfast Inns

    The guide to California Bed and Breakfast Inns lists over 250 boutique hotels, wine country cottages and more.

  • Vintage Hollywood in Los Angeles is an extract from the Lonely Planets book Culture Trails.

    Vintage Hollywood

    Vintage Hollywood in Los Angeles is an extract from the Lonely Planets book Culture Trails.

  • The Los Angeles travel guide book from Lonely Planet also covers San Diego and Southern California, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Disneyland.

    Los Angeles Travel Guide

    The Los Angeles travel guide book from Lonely Planet also covers San Diego and Southern California, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Disneyland.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the book Culture Trails by Lonely Planet, which has a section on Vintage Hollywood alongside 51 other perfect weekends.

    Culture Trails

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the book Culture Trails by Lonely Planet, which has a section on Vintage Hollywood alongside 51 other perfect weekends.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip guide from Moon covering California, Oregon and Washington

    Pacific Coast Highway Moon Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip guide from Moon covering California, Oregon and Washington

  • This John Steinbeck California Guide, A Journey into Steinbeck's California, shows readers how towns like Monterey, Carmel and Salinas influenced the author.

    John Steinbeck California Guide

    This John Steinbeck California Guide, A Journey into Steinbeck's California, shows readers how towns like Monterey, Carmel and Salinas influenced the author.

  • To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

    Cannery Row in Monterey

    To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

  • The Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.

    Napa and Sonoma Guidebook

    The Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.

  • The Frommer's Guide to Oregon has good information on hotels, restaurants and what to see in Portland, and along the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Frommers Guide to Oregon

    The Frommer's Guide to Oregon has good information on hotels, restaurants and what to see in Portland, and along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Lonely Planet's Guide to Cycling the USA West Coast is a bicycling guidebook for anyone touring California, Oregon and Washington by bike.

    Cycling the USA West Coast

    Lonely Planet's Guide to Cycling the USA West Coast is a bicycling guidebook for anyone touring California, Oregon and Washington by bike.

  • Epic Drives of the World from Lonely Planet describes 50 of the world's most exciting road trips, including, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Epic Drives of the World

    Epic Drives of the World from Lonely Planet describes 50 of the world's most exciting road trips, including, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

    California Coast Guide

    One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

  • The Frommer's Guide to Seattle has good information about the city and side excursions to the Olympic National Park and elsewhere, plus free city and area map.

    Frommer's Guide to Seattle

    The Frommer's Guide to Seattle has good information about the city and side excursions to the Olympic National Park and elsewhere, plus free city and area map.

  • The Michelin Guide to California is a gourmet's guide to the best restaurants along the Pacific Coast Highway and elsewhere in California.

    Michelin Guide to California

    The Michelin Guide to California is a gourmet's guide to the best restaurants along the Pacific Coast Highway and elsewhere in California.

  • 101 free San Francisco attractions and things to do are in the Kindle guide, 101 Free Things to Do in San Francisco, in the Travel Free eGuidebooks series.

    Free San Francisco Kindle Guide to Free Attractions

    101 free San Francisco attractions and things to do are in the Kindle guide, 101 Free Things to Do in San Francisco, in the Travel Free eGuidebooks series.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Guides. Book and ebook hotel guides to PCH

    Pacific Coast Highway guides include our own printed book and ebook guides to the best hotels along the PCH, available in paperback, PDF and Kindle formats.

  • Soul of Los Angeles from French publishers Jonglez is a travel guide to 30 Exceptional Experiences in California's largest city.

    Soul of Los Angeles

    Soul of Los Angeles from French publishers Jonglez is a travel guide to 30 Exceptional Experiences in California's largest city.

  • The Green Guide to the USA West from Michelin covers California, the Pacific North West, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and even Kansas and Alaska.

    Green Guide USA West

    The Green Guide to the USA West from Michelin covers California, the Pacific North West, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and even Kansas and Alaska.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel's California Camping book review rates the 20th anniversary edition of Moon's complete guide to over 1400 tent and RV campgrounds.

    California Camping Book Review

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's California Camping book review rates the 20th anniversary edition of Moon's complete guide to over 1400 tent and RV campgrounds.

  • Moon's Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula covers hotels, restaurants, and sights, including Forks, the Olympic National Park and other places.

    Guide to the Olympic Peninsula

    Moon's Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula covers hotels, restaurants, and sights, including Forks, the Olympic National Park and other places.

  • The Best Coast is a west coast travel guide, sub-titled A Road Trip Atlas it doesn't use photos but instead has hundreds of beautiful illustrations.

    The Best Coast Book Review

    The Best Coast is a west coast travel guide, sub-titled A Road Trip Atlas it doesn't use photos but instead has hundreds of beautiful illustrations.

  • The Pacific Coast Highway in California book shows in historic photos the building of the Pacific Coast Highway from its earliest beginnings in 1911.

    Pacific Coast Highway in California

    The Pacific Coast Highway in California book shows in historic photos the building of the Pacific Coast Highway from its earliest beginnings in 1911.



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