The Pacific Coast Highway has always been a bucket list item of mine – and thankfully, we were able to incorporate a day of driving into our California itinerary. The trip itself should theoretically only take about 5 hours between LA and Monterrey; we took a bit longer to stop and see some of the sights along the way. We picked up our car, promptly got stuck in LA traffic, got lost, tried to find a gas pump, and then, about 30 minutes later, starting making our way to our first stop: Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating, so we had lunch on a chilly balcony overlooking the overcast Santa Barbara harbor.
That being said, the fresh seafood was delicious. We then made our way up to San Louis Obispo to see the elephant seals and the Hearst castle. Unfortunately, we arrived just after the Hearst Castle had it’s last tour; we redirected to see the elephant seals instead.
They seemed to be enjoying themselves lying along the shoreline, and every so often they would make funny sleeping sounds. They also stink, which I didn’t expect. We pulled off in San Louis Obispo to grab a quick coffee, and passed a beautiful little Mission-style church.
After passing San Louis Obispo, we then made our way up to Monterrey / Carmel Valley, where we spend the night. The drive between San Louis Obispo to Monterrey is a bit harrowing, which I didn’t realize (I was happy that we upgraded to a compact SUV). Big Sur is incredible – Ventana Big Sur looks absolutely luxurious as accommodation as well. The bridges, turns, and overlooks are absolutely breathtaking – this highway is well worth the time.
Of course, the highlight of the drive is crossing the bridge featured in “Big Little Lies” which we crossed shortly before making it to Monterrey. Unfortunately it was getting dark, but it was still beautiful.
We stayed in Carmel Valley at the Bernardus Lodge & Spa, where we were treated to a welcome glass of house wine (and a free bottle in the minibar!) and settled in for a delicious, locally sourced dinner.