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Morro Bay: Work at state parks and then play along the coast

September 12, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The edge of the Neptune pool at Hearst Castle on California's Central Coast.
The edge of the Neptune pool at Hearst Castle on California's Central… (Gina Ferazzi /Los Angeles…)

Help restore sand dunes in Morro Bay State Park and rebuild a greenhouse at Hearst Castle on your next trip to the Central Coast with California-based Nature Corps, an organization that pairs vacation volunteers with conservation projects. Those who reserve a spot for a September trip receive a free pass to  the Savor the Central Coast food and wine festival too.

Volunteers spend two half-days working on conservation projects at two California State Parks under the direction of  biologists and other professionals during the five-day trip to Morro Bay, San Simeon and San Luis Obispo. One project will help restore sand dunes habitat by pulling out European beach grass and collecting seeds of native plants on the beaches of Morro Bay. The second project involves fixing up an old greenhouse on the grounds of Hearst Castle.

The rest of the time is spent enjoying the coast by taking a bicycle ride to Avila Beach, going on a private tour of Hearst Castle, visiting the elephant seal rookery on the beach below the castle, kayaking out to the Morro Bay Strand and other activities. An added benefit: Part of the trip price underwrites a program for children to participate in conservation programs too.

The deal: Participants who make a reservation for one of two upcoming trips receive a two-day pass good for Sept. 29-30 at the festival at Santa Margarita Ranch in Santa Margarita, Calif. Tickets are valued at $150 each.

Date: Trips that include the festival passes begin Sept. 24 and 29. (Check the website for more dates.)

Price: $695 to $995 per person, double occupancy, based on which lodging option you choose. It covers all meals; tours to wineries, scenic and wildlife areas; hiking and walking tours; kayak and bike rentals; Hearst Castle tour; and festival passes.

Contact: Nature Corps, (800) 774-7275

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