We were so lucky to call the Monterey Bay home for almost two years. As outdoor lovers, it didn’t take us long to explore Big Sur. Without a doubt this is one of our favorite places in the world, and no matter how often you go no trip is the same.
If you only had one day to explore Big Sur – here’s what we suggest:
Leave early. If you’re visiting Big Sur, you’re likely staying in Monterey or Carmel. The best advice I can give you is get an early start. Highway One becomes a bottleneck around 10 a.m. The Big Sur coastline is rugged and beautiful, with pull-outs every few miles. The best way to experience the area is early in the morning, before RV’s, tour buses and motorcycle brigades invade the highway. We recommend leaving your place around 7:30 a.m. It’s worth it, we promise!
Stop by the Bixby Creek Bridge. Wherever you’re going in Big Sur, you’ll hit the Bixby Creek Bridge. The bridge is gorgeous in all its glory. If you got here early, you hopefully avoided the flood of tourists. Pull off on the side of the road and enjoy the view. Don’t leave too fast – we’ve spotted whales and dolphins here before!
Coffee and carbs at Big Sur Bakery. Drive further into Big Sur and you’ll eventually stumble upon Big Sur Bakery. Plucked straight out of a fairy tale, this cottage in the woods, like much of Big Sur, has a magical element to it. Fuel up on coffee and scones. If you’d like provisions for a longer hike, swing by next door’s Big Sur Deli for ready-made sandwiches with ironic names like the Big Sur Hippie and the Big Sur Hipster.
Hit the trails at Andrew Molera State Park. With so many trails closed due to landslide and wildfire recovery, Andrew Molera State Park became our favorite go-to. We recommend checking All Trails or www.hikinginbigsur.com for the most up to date information on trail conditions. The trails take you through meadows, beaches, woods and cliffs. You can choose your own adventure and take a one-off trail (~1 mi.), or combine them to create a longer loop (~10 mi.).
For a shorter hike, visit Garrapata State Park. This park has two miles of beachfront, with gorgeous vegetation and wildflowers. The coastal hiking trails take you along ocean beaches into dense coast redwood groves. Dogs are allowed on leashes, albeit most people let their dogs roam on the beach (us included).
Finish the day with a drink at Nepanthe. After your hike, circle back to Nepanthe, a gorgeous cliff-side restaurant that literally hugs the Big Sur coastline. Don’t let the line scare you off! You can likely squeeze in at the bar or hold up a stool outside. Stop in here for a cold one and some snacks (we recommend the California Artisanal Cheese Plate). Sit on the terrace, kick back and stay a while.
For more Big Sur ideas, visit www.bigsurcalifornia.org.