California Coast Adventure: Coastal Drive & Big Sur


After the most luxurious and relaxing stay at Carmel Valley Ranch it was time to complete the next stretch of drive, which as it happens was the longest. Our mission (that we chose to accept) was to reach Santa Barbara, clocking us at roughly 5-6 hours since we wanted to take Hwy 1 in order to soak up the ocean views.

We left Carmel just before noon and within 30 minutes we began seeing coastal scenery that you only see in pictures and the movies. To call it breathtaking would be an understatement. As always, I’m little miss prepared and had my handy research and such in hand guiding us to the best places for photo ops and taking it all in. Unfortunately I bit off more than I could chew in the sites to see department and quickly had to re-think what spots were most important in order for us to arrive in Santa Barbara before midnight. If I were to do it again I wouldn’t have put myself on such a time crunch.

Nonetheless, we came, we saw, we drove and we conquered. The two most notable scenic views we encountered were Bixby Bridge and Hurricane Point, and might I add it’s called hurricane point for a reason. A reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge, Bixby Creek Bridge was built in 1932 and is one of the tallest single-span bridges in the world and one of the most photographed areas along the Pacific Coast. Until its completion, residents of Big Sur were virtually stuck during winter due to the often-impassable Old Coast Road. Hurricane Point is just across the bridge (maybe 5 minutes) and boasts an equally impressive northern view of the bridge and coast. However, be prepared for your car door to potentially fly off. Ok, maybe the wind isn’t quite that powerful but take it from me, it was intense.

In the heart of Big Sur lives Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, the most charming spot just off Hwy 1 (literally blink and you’ll miss it). We stopped in for a quick bite (super fresh & yummy sandwiches) and to check out what goodies they had for sale. I ended up purchasing some homemade raspberry jam made from berries they picked themselves on their property. It doesn’t get fresher than that. Also, the rumors are true. Residents of Big Sur have got to be some of the most all-natural, mellow people I’ve ever encountered. Very much go with the flow attitudes; I can see the widespread appeal. With that said, I’m still of a lover of all things enjoyed in metropolitan areas.

From there we were in for the long haul! Word to the wise, I don’t recommend doing this drive at night. An after thought as tourists, we’re incredibly thankful we organized our time for afternoon driving because the highway is incredibly narrow, twisty and turny (those are technical terms for those wondering haha). My husband is an absolute champion but even during the day he found it to be stressful and exhausting. Nonetheless, we don’t regret driving the coast for a second and think it’s definitely something everyone should do in their lifetime if given the opportunity.

Up next, Santa Barbara and the Four Seasons beautiful resort The Biltmore!

To see more photos or to watch a video of the ocean, see below.

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