Every few years Matt and I road trip up and down the California coast, stopping in to visit our favorite cities that welcome visitors with amazing views and great cafes. We’ve toured all over inland California from Lake Tahoe to Palm Springs but there’s something really special about taking a week to drive the highway that runs along the Pacific coast to stop and stay in some beautiful oceanfront towns.
Last week we spent time in Monterey and Big Sur with charming Carmel-by-the-Sea nestled in between. The three are worth a weekend visit to any traveler visiting California (see scenes from Carmel here). Spanish inspired architecture covered with bougainvillea, fuchsia, and coastal botanicals thrive in the sunshine and sea air and there is always plenty to see, eat, and do.
When in Monterey, the Fisherman’s Wharf is worthy stop where you can walk the pier and look out over the white sandy beach and boats in the harbor. Locals know to grab seafood here that is fresh off the boats. The Wharf is also where local restaurants compete for the “best clam chowder” award and little shops sell beach trinkets and scrimshaw.
Catch the free trolley to Cannery Row for tons of shopping, restaurant, and a visit to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium before you leave – we spent two hours there before heading south.
Big Sur is a long stretch of coastline along Highway 1 that weaves back and forth along the cliffs and drops down to little beaches too and fab views around every bend. Stop in to any of the roadside restaurants for a bite, or stay and camp at some of the local spots along the route. Don’t miss Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where you can park and hike five minutes to a spectacular waterfall that spills into the Pacific Ocean.
We’re headed home tonight after a week of vacationing up and down the coast of our state. We came up with a new family motto this week: “full belly, full heart” which describes how we feel after our relaxing vacation. Happy & blessed.