Ah, Big Sur! After countless hours of drooling over images, reading articles of this majestic stretch of land and dreaming of making it there one day – it happened! Amazing weather, centralized accommodations and a constant sense of discovering the unknown, John and I ventured to Big Sur in hopes of disconnecting from the ever so tech focused everything San Francisco and truly immerse ourselves in one of the most talked about destinations in America. Here you will find the highlights that attributed to one of the best weekends of my life and how roughly how long each location may take. Enjoy!
Starting from our hotel in Carmel-by-the-sea, we began our romantic journey hoping to see all the landmarks made famous through the lens of photographers and publications alike. By having a loose schedule, we were able to not only see, but also enjoy almost everything we had on our list (except for Pfeiffer Beach, which was closed!) Driving south from Carmel, our first major stop was the historic Bixby Bridge! Yes- the one from the photos…
BIXBY BRIDGE / ONE HOUR
The only thing was, the photographs don’t come close to doing it justice! Once you accept that there are other tourists trying to get that same shot you are, you can really enjoy the architecture of the bridge itself. Since this was the first stop on our drive, we couldn’t help our wide eyed attitude towards the coastline as well! Though we’ve explored countless areas of the California coast (Mendocino, Monterey, Fort Bragg and Caspar to name a few) this area was the most breathtaking. Something about the hue of the blue, the depth of the mountains and the crashing waves all come together to create pure excitement.
BIG SUR BAKERY & RESTAURANT / TWO HOURS
After exploring Bixby Bridge, we headed further south on Highway One which curves into the mountains and allows the temperatures to soar! Our day along the coastline took place on Valentine’s Day (shout out to John, who planned the most romantic getaway ever) and it was definitely time to stop for brunch at Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant.
Upon arrival, the quiet sounds of birds chirping, friendly vibes and quite possibly the largest cactus plants I’ve seen warmly welcomed us inside the restaurant. We had to wait 15 minutes for a table, which was a blessing really since it gave us time to explore the small shop located right behind the restaurant. When it was time to sit down, we opted for an inside seat, but the outside seating area is just as charming! With a small but mighty menu, I went for breakfast and John decided on lunch. Both meals were scrumptious and interior decor added to the overall positive experience here! If you’re not hungry for a full meal but want to stop and check out Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant, the cafe side offers a variety of to-go coffee drinks and small bites!
PFEIFFER STATE PARK / FOUR HOURS
Once fueled and ready to go, our next stop was Pfeiffer Beach to find the iconic purple sand. Though the beach was closed that day, it is definitely a must stop while on your trip.
Instead, we headed to the famous McWay Falls a little sooner than expected to see one of only two waterfalls in the area that spill directly into the Pacific Ocean. Once you arrive, parking can be tricky but a short walk never hurt anybody! Once you’ve parked- cross the street towards the ocean and follow the dirt path on the right for about a 1/4 of a mile. Not sure where to go? Just follow everyone else- chances are they are on a mission to get a look at the stunning view. PS. The water really is that blue!
Depending on your interests, the Henry Miller Memorial Library is located just a few miles north of McWay Falls. This small attraction does get a good amount of foot traffic and is know for its art, music and of course it’s collection of books.
*While you are in the area, you will have a chance to take advantage of several hiking trails. If you are only looking to see the falls, this stop would take about one hour.
Like any all day adventure, it’s important to carry along all things you’ll need in an easily accessible bag. During this trip in particular, I was lucky enough to have teamed up with Julia Canright, a San Francisco native who creates hand block printed bags and backpacks that compliment both the everyday lifestyle and perfect pieces for adventures such as this one! I’m absolutely in love with the quality craftsmanship of Julia’s work and it feels awesome accessorize an outfit with such a unique bag.
Her modern aesthetic and fresh designs make her work really stand out above the crowd. You can check out her products here (and seriously swoon over her newly released marble oversized tote!) Great for holding my camera, water bottle, beach blanket and all those tiny bits and pieces, the Wave Large Backpack is perfection for a weekend trip or even day to day use. Did I mention each piece is printed, cut and sewn by Julia herself?!
NEPENTHE / 2 HOURS
After the falls, we headed back north on Highway One and stopped at Nepenthe for a glass of wine to end a perfect Big Sur adventure. Here you will find a wooden deck upon the trees which feature great views of the coastline in a causal atmosphere. As you can tell, the fog started rolling in around 3pm, so if you want to get the best views, a mid day lunch would be ideal here. Either way, it’s a must stop along the coast- so plan to stay for a while!
Have you ever visited Big Sur? Are there any other places you recommend on my next adventure there? What is your favorite accommodations to stay at?
This post was made possible in partnership with Julia Canright. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that make the blog a little more dreamy!