Happy New Year in Big Sur

Last week Shane and I drove down to Big Sur to start the new year off right. It was just like the good ‘ol days when we lived in his Chevy S-10 pickup truck! Except this time we were testing out my new (used) Honda CR-V. After all, I got an SUV to support our camping and outdoor lifestyle.


After the 3.5 hour drive down the gorgeous coastal route 1 in perfect fully sunny 70 degree California weather, we set up camp for two nights at Andrew Molera State Park, exactly where AFAR magazine had told us to go! AFAR sends me email newsletters, and ever since seeing their picture at Andrew Molera, I have had my heart set on going. The only downside to camping in state parks is the price. I find $25 per night to be pretty unreasonable for setting up a tent, especially when living in a state where we pay such high taxes all around. The campgrounds were clean however with flush toilets. Perhaps we are paying for the flush toilets!


Shane and I are very fast hikers– we covered a gorgeous 8 mile loop and ended with a picnic lunch on a gorgeous beach not accessible by car. You only arrive there after scrambling over a picturesque congregation of smooth driftwood. Check out the purple sand! (caused by jasper)


Along the way we saw a BOBCAT! of whom we were too slow to get a picture. He / she was barely larger than a house cat with pointy ears and a cute leopard sort of cheetah print coat. Its gait was almost that of a rabbit as it seemed to hop along the edges of the trail. It was obviously very accustomed to human presence and did not allow us to distract him / her while chasing a mouse. Shortly thereafter I noticed a mouse scurry headfirst down into a tiny hole on the side of the trail, leading me to believe that our bobcat friend had been unsuccessful. Had we been more lucky we would have caught a glimpse of the elusive mountain lion who also lives in the state park, but they tend to make fewer appearances.

After the hike we headed to the Big Sur Taphouse for delicious hot wings and to watch some college football. The Taphouse is one of the only places in town to eat, and fortunately it is fantastic. They have big screen TVs for the games, board games and fun like Connect 4, Jenga, Sorry, Parcheesi, and other fun classics, and the benches and furniture are all custom made. Calling Big Sur a “town” is a bit of an overstatement, as there are only a handful of inns, b & b’s, and restaurants directly alongside the 1. (The next morning’s breakfast was a big hit when we discovered breakfast burritos at the general store! Nom nom!)


In the afternoon we drove twenty more minutes south to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to check out McWay falls on the west side of route 1. Just as AFAR magazine had promised, it looked like a tropical paradise in the middle of California’s Central Coast! I hate to use the term “must see,” but if you go to Big Sur, you must visit McWay Falls. It’s hard to believe that the property used to be privately owned and that this waterfall was the standard view from the owner’s bedroom. Interestingly enough, the falls used to empty directly into the ocean, until the gorgeous cove of a beach was created after a landslide tumbled down across route 1.


As the sun set over McWay Falls, we returned to the Honda to do some tailgate dinner like old times. This was my favorite thing to do in the pickup truck, and it wasn’t so bad in the Honda either!


Just as we finished our macaroni and cheese, we enjoyed a stunning sunset from the back of our car:


Followed by the lovely rising of the moon:


On the way home the next morning we checked out Pfeiffer Beach, which is hard to find unless you ask the locals. All the locals we met, especially Tony!, were friendly and helpful, telling us how to get places, even more “secret” places like Pfeiffer Beach- there is no sign on the main road. You can see why Pfeiffer Beach is featured on pretty much every “Big Sur” calendar.


I recommend Big Sur for couples without children. Carmel (Carmel-by-the-Sea) to the north is very popular but seems more geared towards families. AND it has a Starbucks which I definitely do not want to see or smell when I am trying to reconnect with nature and simplicity. As you can see, there is beauty beyond every bend in the curvy road in Big Sur!

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2 Comments on “Happy New Year in Big Sur”

  1. Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats January 30, 2014 at 21:22 #

    What a lovely New Years trip! That beach looks great, we’ll have to try to find it next time we head south. Oh to be lucky enough to spot a bobcat:)


  1. Wilderness Backpacking in California | SavvyCitiZen - August 1, 2014

    […] starting the new year off right in Big Sur, Shane and I wanted to continue exploring California’s backcountry, but at a more intense […]

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