A Day in Big Sur
Located just an hour south of Carmel on the stunning Pacific Coast Highway is the majestic land of Big Sur. Unlike other parts of California, it’s sparsely populated and feels removed from the hustle and bustle of every day life. There’s no traffic, cell phone signals or fast food restaurants. It’s just you and nature at it’s finest, making it the perfect place to get away from it all.
I originally wanted to spend a few nights in Big Sur but because we had Coco with us our options for lodging were somewhat limited. So instead we decided to stay the entire time in Carmel and just drive down for the day to check out a couple of highlights in the area.
One day was all it took for me to fall in love with this part of the golden state. I could easily see us coming back one day with a family, pitching a tent and teaching our kids how to make s’mores by the campfire. Needless to say, it’s definitely worth adding to the ol’ bucket list, even if you only have a day to spare. And if that turns out to be the case, I just so happen to have an itinerary for you! :)
1. Big Sur Bakery. A thick layer of fog blankets the coast early in the morning so feel free to sleep in and take your time to sit down and savor a full breakfast at this famous bakery. Enjoy their local and seasonal fare and if it’s spring when you’re there, be sure to try a fresh strawberry scone!
2. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. After you’ve fueled up with a good meal, make your way to the park for a hike on Ewoldsen Trail. This 4.5 mile loop takes you into the redwood forest and up the mountain for a view of the ocean. If it’s foggy (like it was when we went), you might miss out on the full view of the water but it’s still a beautiful hike that makes for a great workout.
The loop eventually brings you right back to where you started at the front of the park where you can find the short and easy 0.6 mile trail to the gorgeously picturesque McWay Falls.
3. Sierra Mar. After exhausting your energy at Julia Pfeiffer State Park, make your way north to the Post Ranch Inn and have lunch perched upon a cliff 1,200 feet above the surf. Gaze at the breathtaking view of the coast while enjoying an artistic meal that’s mostly sourced from their organic garden. Just be sure to book a reservation well in advance because it’s a popular spot!
4. Big Sur River Gorge. If you’re still up for more adventure after lunch, keep heading north on Highway 1 to Pfeiffer State Park. Park in the third lot then follow the signs to leading to the trail for the Gorge. Although this hike is relatively short ( it’s under a mile) the trail is not well-maintained so it takes at least an hour to get there and back. It’s a challenging hike and requires crossing the river and climbing boulders so you might want to forgo it if you have little ones or don’t want to risk physical injury.
But if you are up to it, what’s at the end is definitely worth the trouble. If it’s a hot day, be sure to wear your suit so you can go for a swim. The water here is cold but it’s crystal clear!
5. Highway One. It might be tempting to stay in Big Sur for dinner but it’s likely the drive in will be foggy so, if it’s cleared up, you don’t want to miss the views on the drive out. Plus the way the afternoon sunlight cascades along the rocky cliffs is truly unforgettable. Give yourself plenty of time to stop and take pictures!