Travel – Monterey to Big Sur and Highway 1

I’m going to start a little holiday series for the trip we took at the beginning of the year. Up first is our trip to Monterey and Big Sur.

We landed in San Francisco late on a Thursday night. We’d been travelling for a day and a bit due to the time differences, so Jim had booked a hotel at the airport so we could just fall into bed, which was an excellent plan. It also meant we’d be driving Highway 1 in the daytime. I’m not sure there would have been much point driving the coast road at night. So it worked out perfectly.
We set off about lunchtime down Highway 1, with Monterey as our final destination, but we’d also planned a stop in Santa Cruz on the way. It was an overcast, windy day on the coast, which made for some beautifully dramatic offshore waves. In fact, as we’d packed the bags into the car in such a hurry, I had to make Jim stop the car for me to get my cameras out. He pulled down a side road and we ended up facing the with stormy seas head-on. 
But with camera in hand, we carried on back down the highway. I spent my time staring out of the window at the stunning scenery. Just look at the blue skies and the turquoises of the sea! It was crazy too because we didn’t really see too many other cars on the journey.
Then we rolled into Santa Cruz. As with many of the trips we take, because we’re visiting primarily to snowboard, we go to these places in the off-season, so we had to make do with walking around the boardwalk whilst it was closed. But coming from rainy and cold England, wandering about with the sun on our face, was just so lovely. Plus, seeing some of the places where the Lost Boys was filmed was super cool. No vampires were spotted during the visit, but we did find a pretty epic mini golf course at Neptunes Kingdom. Canons fired, neon lights shone, stairs were climbed! And I came nowhere near to winning!
And with that, we were back on the road to Monterey. 
We stayed at the Best Western Monterey Inn using some of Jim’s hotel points. It’s about a 10-minute walk to Fishermans Wharf and about a 5-minute walk to Alverado Street and downtown, which was perfect for us. Plus, the room was massive and the free breakfast included a waffle bar! What more could you want out of life?
We were booked in for a 2-night stay, and we arrived, after our de-tour and frequent photo stops, at about 6pm. So, on our first night, we drove out to In and Out Burger, because it felt like the appropriate thing to do in California. We both had burgers, with animal fries. The burgers were absolutely amazing, but, I’m sitting on the side with the people who aren’t into the In and Out fries. Not cooked enough for my liking! 
Once we got back to the hotel, we walked down to the Alverado Street Brewery for the start of our unofficial brewery tour! It’s such a fun brewery bar. If you’re in Monterey, make sure you stop by! But maybe don’t sample as many beers as I had!
The next morning, on the advice of a guy we’d been sat next to in the bar, we headed down to Big Sur. We had planned to go in the afternoon, but we were told it would be quieter in the morning. The drive down there was just stunning. Literally, every turn provided us with an even more beautiful scene. 
Turquoise seas, pretty bridges, coastline that took your breath away. 
We made it down the McWay falls, which is about as far as we could drive due to a mudslide. You can’t actually make it down to the beach where the falls are anymore, but there is a nice little walk around the cliff so you can see the falls and the remains of a house that used to stand there.
It’s such a beautiful place. If you find yourself driving down the coast, make sure you stop for a little walk. We were told that it was a bit of a hike, but in reality, it was a wooden walkway, so less of a hike, more a 15-minute saunter. 
But just look at the colour of the sea. Honestly. Just look at it. Have you seen anything more perfect? 
On the way back, we stopped at Nepanthe, which is a stunning restaurant on the edge of the Big Sur cliffs. There are booths looking out over the sea and the menu looked amazing, but it was also super expensive (think $10 bows of chips/fries) so we just had a drink in the sun before we set back off to explore Monterey. Well, not before I made Jim stop on the way back for about another million photos.

The afternoon was spent wandering round Monterey town. We started with Fishermans Wharf, looking for something to snack on from a seafood stall before wandering our way down Cannery Row. Because I’m the nerdy book reader that I am, I still have a copy of Cannery Row, that my parents bought for, aged 12, on Cannery Row. I love reading Steinbeck. So it was fun to be seeing the place with grown-up eyes.

The one thing I regret is that we didn’t have time to go on whale watching trip whilst we were there, but there was no way to fit in whale watching as well as Big Sur, Santa Cruz, and seeing Monterey. But we did see some otters in the harbour, and some seals playing off the coast by the aquarium, and a pelican and some other fun birds. 

We walked all the way from the hotel, down to Fishermans Wharf, then down to Cannery Row and back with absolutely no issues at all, so if you’re there, it’s a really walkable town. I love walking about places as you get to see all sorts of things you wouldn’t normally. We also found a somewhat dodgy looking mini golf course, that turned out to be neon and quite a lot of fun, right past the aquarium! 
In the evening, we stopped in for a drink at the Fieldwork Brewery, which is a super cool space. I’ll talk more about the beers we drank in a separate post, but the whole space is outside, with firepits dotted about. Can you imagine being able to do that in the UK? Have an entirely outside bar? Amazing. Our next stop, after we’d sampled as much of Fieldwork’s beer as we could manage, was back down to Alvarado Street Brewery. We were planning on getting a 4 pack to take out but ended up staying for some food. We had a bit of a selection of starters and sides to share rather than a main meal each, which is something we do often, as it means we get to sample more things. But it was absolutely delicious. 
So, there we have, our little stop down Highway 1. 
Have you been? What did you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy