This is the second in an incredibly late series of posts detailing the anniversary trip we took to Big Sur last September 2015. The trip was so satisfying and worth it that I decided I’m going to share it anyway. Because if it isn’t on the inter-web, did it really happen? 🙂 Furthermore, maybe it will help those of you who might’ve been thinking of going to have a better trip. Or at least convince somebody to stop making excuses and take that drive. Better late than never.
There are many ways to experience Big Sur. There are numerous nature hikes, some great food places, horseback riding and plenty of picturesque views. On future visits, we might go for more of the physical activity route. For our first visit, however, we decided to take it easy and go the historical route. I love looking at old buildings and Miguel loves educational walks. We planned our trip around those preferences.
A delicious and satisfying breakfast with great coffee, all made over a campfire.
It’s not that it’s such a long stretch of coast, it’s that it demands a slow and winding drive.
First on our agenda on Saturday was a visit to and a tour of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, in the San Simeon end. The meeting place for the tour was this old abandoned motel called the Piedras Blancas Motel, built in the 1950’s to welcome early visitors to nearby Hearst Castle.
Totally vintage and genuine but sadly abandoned, the place gives off a surf shack/creepy haunted motel vibe – which sounds a like a great movie idea.
After we pay the $10/person tour fee (that goes towards the upkeep of the lighthouse), the tour group drives by convoy to the actual light station overlooking Piedras Blancas Rock. The light station is only open to the public on guided tour and only on certain days.
Piedras Blancas Light Station was amazing. It’s really worth a visit. First illuminated in 1875 at Piedras Blancas point, the lighthouse has served as an aid to navigation for over a 125 years. The light station, as the collection of buildings around a light house is called, used to house lighthouse keepers, assistant keepers and their families.
Not only are the lighthouse, rock and views just amazing to look at, the tour is also educational. The tour provides a good overview of the wildlife that call Big Sur home, especially since the Light Station now also serves marine biologists who observe the whale migration patterns and the largest elephant seal rookery on West Coast, located a mile south of the station. Basically, the tour is like watching a Discovery Channel segment except everything is live and surrounding you. The hubby loved it.
It’s just jaw-dropping all around. Travel tip: Bring binoculars with you. We didn’t bring any with us but they lent us some during the tour. I wish we had brought our own. I fell in love with the lighthouse itself. It was my first time to see one up close and to step inside. A lightstation like this one functioned as a safe harbor, a guiding light, a sign of hope – there’s so much story in there.
The tour ended around 12:45PM, by which time we were hungry again. We drove back up north to Lucia Lodge, a historic cliff-side resort that predates Highway 1 itself.
Built in the 1930’s, the place is still run by the same family that built it.
Incredible view, fresh air, burgers and fries and great conversation – now that is more like our type of meal.
After lunch, we had wanted to go to Henry Miller Library but somebody booked it for their wedding. This was totally annoying not only because we missed the library which was totally on my list (libraries and bookstores usually are), but also because I was totally jealous that I didn’t have a wedding in a library next to the Pacific. Whatevs. Cheers to the happy couple 🙂
We were saving Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for the next morning, but I didn’t want to force Miguel to wake up early again – this was also his much-deserved vacation and he already wakes up early everyday for work. So after lunch at Lucia Lodge, we stopped by to look at McWay Falls on our way back to camp.
We were willing to pay for parking (inside Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP) but it was full. I was worried it was too crowded and we wouldn’t be able to go. We got there around 3:30PM and there were a lot of cars parked on the side of the road but there were a few available spaces. Not knowing what we were doing, we just followed a bunch of people go through an opening in the fence on the west side of the road (see Day 1 mention about my husband and DO NOT ENTER signs). We didn’t know where it was exactly but not more than a fifty yards away, the falls was already visible. We walked a little further to get a better view.
When you google Big Sur or get a postcard about it, chances are you’ll get one with a photo of McWay Falls. This is for good reason, my friend, for good reason. The place is gorgeous. #NoFilter all the way.
Just stunning. And to think somebody used to have a house that overlooked this very spot. The Browns basically donated the land (and the gorgeous view) to the state for public enjoyment. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Brown. There were a lot of people at this popular must-see spot, but the views weren’t blocked. That was the case for most of Big Sur. There’s plenty of traffic but the places are so beautiful all around, it’s hard to find a bad spot.
After McWay Falls, we headed back to camp to freshen up. After a shower and a change of clothes, we drove north to Bixby Creek Bridge.
Completed in 1932, the concrete arch bridge is a popular land mark that connects Monterey to Big Sur. It’s a great sight – man’s attempt to conquer this wild terrain and stand up next this infinite expanse of the ocean.
After turning back south at Bixby, we stopped by Hurricane Point. We had to.
We also stopped by to view Point Sur Rock from afar with the sun setting behind it. A preview of the next day’s adventure.
We decided to conclude our day with a romantic dinner at Big Sur Roadhouse (Yelp – ★★★★ – $$). Like other restaurants in the region the roadhouse is only a roadhouse by name, but thankfully, we were sitting down this time.
We had the Free Range Duck Breast and Grass Fed New York Strip Steak.
The duck is great, but the steak – the best either of us had ever had. Add to that a phenomenal live jazz trio for the hubby and a root beer float for me. Win-win.
We end the day with smores by the campfire just staring at the stars and each other.
Win. Win. Win.
Click here to read our Day 1 in Big Sur. Stay tuned for Day 3, the last day of our trip!
All photos in this post were taken by Miguel and Louriz Soriano.