We are recently home from three weeks in California, and our time there was full of family, friends and work. At the last minute we took two days to drive through Big Sur. It's a trip we have done many times, and it seems to get more spectacular with each visit. The wild beauty of the forests, and driving curvy highway 1, perched high above the vast waters of the pacific, puts wind back in our sails no matter how hectic our schedule is. Here are a few suggestions for the journey.
We stayed a night in the Carmel Valley so we could drive the entire coast the next day. Carmel Valley Ranch was kid friendly, and had a good last minute deal through Tablet Hotels. The mountain property is huge, full of live oak trees, lavender and grazing deer, as well as various golf courses, pools, and common areas. The 'rooms' are modern and spacious renovated condos. When the chill set in at night we set up camp in front of the fireplace in the bedroom and read Ollie bedtime stories.
Driving through Big Sur, its enough to just cruise and stop at the pullouts to admire the ocean below. We stopped at a couple state parks to hike. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is home to a dramatic waterfall which plunges down from the cliffs directly onto the beach far below, and there are some nice cliff walks and campsites around the top of the waterfall worth walking about.
Big Sur Bakery is the place to stop for coffee and a treat, lunch, or dinner, depending on your timing. It is an institution, and one of the only good places on the drive. We have been wanting to eat and stay at at Post Ranch as well as Ventana, but neither allow children at their bar past 5p, so we'll have to try them on another trip when we don't have Ollie in tow. Ventana actually does not allow children at all, nor does Treebones, so all of those places are bookmarked for another trip without our wee one.
Further south down the coast is Limekiln State Park , where you'll find a cozy campground tucked into a redwood forest along a brook. There are a couple great hikes, one to a gorgeous waterfall which splits over a massive boulder, and the other to the historic lime kilns which are deep in the woods.