During my research for our Northern California trip, I came across several articles and blog posts discussing trips to Big Sur and driving the Pacific Coast Highway. The way the articles described the beauty of Big Sur and the PCH, I knew that I wanted to do a mini-roadtrip and take one day and drive there from San Francisco.
Pacific Coast Highway
Big Sur is about 3 hours from San Francisco, 4 if you take the PCH, so we were up bright and early Friday morning in order to make it out of the city and on our way south. Of course, we opted for the drive down the PCH, and let me tell you it was completely worth it! The views were absolutely breathtaking!
Every time we would turn a corner, I would think that the view couldn’t get any better than what it is right now, and sure enough, the next turn in the road would show an even more breathtaking view! I couldn’t get enough of the rocky coast and the ocean, so we ended up stopping several times along the way to take pictures.
Even with our multiple stops, I think that it only took us 4 hours to make it Big Sur. When we arrived, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Big Sur River Inn before we started our hiking adventures. From the research I had done, I knew that there were two hikes that I really wanted us to go on, one was to the McWay Waterfall and the other was to Pfeiffer Falls.
Pfeiffer Falls was the first area that we saw, so we decided to hike there first. The hike was pretty easy, not too steep and not too long. I was expecting a bigger waterfall at the end of the hike, but all we ended up seeing was a small trickle. I think that it probably had to do with the time of the year that we went.
Next, we made our way further south towards the McWay Waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This hike was extremely easy (I think that it was only a half mile from the parking lot), but we spent the bulk of our time taking pictures of the McWay Waterfall and just basking in the beauty of the coast.
The McWay Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall that’s right on the beach and it really makes for some stunning pictures. If you’re just driving through Big Sur, I definitely recommend stopping by and seeing this before you go. It’s right off the highway, and there are tons of people that park on the side of the highway and make the small hike from there.
17 Mile Drive
After we had finished taking a million picture of the McWay Waterfall, we decided that we wanted to head back north and maybe try to see the cities of Carmel or Monterey before heading back to San Francisco for the night. The 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach is also right there, and from what I had read about it, I knew I wanted to stop there if we had time as well.
Pebble Beach is the famous golfing community that is located pretty much right in the middle of Monterey and Carmel. I think that it cost us $25 to get into Pebble Beach to do the 17 Mile Drive, but it was totally worth it. The views of the ocean, coast, and even the golf courses are stunning! Our favorite stops on the 17 Mile Drive were at the Fanshell Overlook where we were able to see a ton of seals and, of course, the Lone Cypress.
We decided to not eat dinner in the Pebble Beach area, and instead, drove the short distance to Monterey and had dinner at their Fisherman’s Wharf. Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf is just a smaller version of the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, so basically a big tourist trap.
We decided to just walk along the wharf and see if a restaurant caught our eye that we would be interested in trying. We ended up at Paluca Trattoria which is a cute Italian restaurant right on the edge of the wharf that looks out into the ocean. The food was very delicious (a lot better than our lunch), and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Monterey.
After dinner, we were exhausted and ready to head back to the city to get some much needed sleep (plus it was a 3 hour drive back to San Fran!). Overall, the long day and the car ride were completely worth it! The whole day was filled with the beauty of the California coast, and between Big Sur, the PCH, and the 17 Mile Drive, I think that both the hubby and I probably took 1,000 pictures, just in this one day! Seriously, everything about this day was absolutely stunning, and well worth the long car ride to get there! Check back later to read about our final day in California, and a recap of our trip!