In January the hubs and I celebrated our first anniversary in Big Sur and Carmel California. Now listen, I haven’t traveled the world but I have been to some really spectacular places, definitely enough to have perspective on what is great and what is not so great. Without question Big Sur blows every other place I have been away. All of them. It’s not even a competition. And it’s here! In California! Everything from the jaw-dropping landscapes to the friendly people and delicious food was more than I could have ever imagined a place to be. I can not recommend this trip enough and have told anyone who will listen to move it directly to the top of their must see places. It is that wonderful.
But here’s the deal, when I was researching what to do and where to go I had a hard time pinpointing what we should do for the perfect trip. I definitely had a few recommendations from friends, but I was looking for some great articles on hidden gems and tips from the locals. I didn’t really find any of that. Luckily, the tips I did have and the plans I did make worked out perfectly and the hubs and I agreed it was our favorite trip we have ever taken together. So, I though it made sense to share some of our favorites from the trip over the next few weeks in case anyone is planning to visit…and if that’s the case, can I come with you? No seriously.
One Day: Do the drive!…bring your binoculars!!!
Start on HWY 1 in Carmel and drive south pulling over whenever you see a viewpoint you think looks interesting. It’s important to know that it is WAY WAY WAY easier to pull over to enjoy the viewpoints when you are driving south (we messed that up). I recommend pulling over whenever you see something interesting or at least every few miles. It’s worth it! The views are some of the most breathtaking you will ever see and if you are lucky, which we were!, you will get to watch whales and dolphins passing by in the ocean. I meaaaaannn, I almost died of happiness. If you want guaranteed cool places to stop along the drive anything with the name Pfeiffer in it will work, I’ve listed a few of my faves below (all names are linked to more information). Also, stop for food at Big Sur Bakery or Nepenthe, more details to come on those next week.
Pfeiffer Beach (small admission), have a picnic and watch the waves, I could have fallen asleep from the sound
Pfeiffer State Park, massive Redwoods, hikes galore, camping, waterfalls, you could spend a whole day here and not see it all…we checked out the Redwoods
Pfeiffer Burns, my vote for best views and waterfall
Two Days: Do the drive!, go to Refuge (sorry no pics to share of Refuge)
On your first day do everything above followed by watching the sunset on the beach (we stayed in Carmel by the Sea and loved that beach). For day two wake up and do a walk on the beach and brunch before heading to Refuge for the most relaxing experience imaginable. I’m actually not really a spa person but this place came really highly recommended and when all was said and done it was the one place we both agreed we would have to go back to the next time we are in the area. Refuge is an outdoor hydro-thermal spa where after a series of hot and cold plunges (do NOT skip the cold plunge, it’s the best part for you) and blissful relaxation you can get pampered with a massage. Again, I’m not a spa person, this was different. At one point I was so relaxed I was falling asleep outside in the adirondack chair listening to the wind in the trees with my feet warming by the outdoor fire pit. PURE. BLISS.
Three Days: Do the drive!, explore wine country, go to Refuge
Follow day one above, explore wine country on day two and end with Refuge on day three. The Carmel Valley is quickly establishing itself as one of the best regions for producing Pinot Noir. The bottle we had with dinner was perfection in a bottle so I feel like I have to agree. We didn’t get a third day on our trip but next time we go I hope to follow THIS ARTICLE and get more familiar with the regions best sips.