What a crazy, fun filled few days I had with my daughter in Big Sur. We were celebrating her birthday but needed no excuse to explore this amazing part of our country. Most often we stay two nights at my brother-in-laws ranch, and with such limited time we tend to stay close by. With 385 acres to wander, we are never bored. But with the gift of four nights, we expanded our horizons to some new places, and of course a few of our tried and true favorites.
Our adventure began with a breakfast in Los Alamos at Bob’s Well Bread Bakery . Sitting outside on a gorgeous (non June gloom) morning staring at a lovely herb garden, eating delicious food, and sipping on a chai latte, I was already on vacation. If you have never been to the quaint town of Los Alamos, or this little gem of an eatery, I highly recommend!
We had one more stop in Avila Beach, at Avila Valley Barn to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies. And yes, some fudge and caramel corn may have made their way into our bags as well. This would be a perfect stop to bring the kiddos as there is a menagerie of animals from miniature horses to emus! Even though my kiddo is now 25, and we won’t even go into my age, we both enjoyed them too.
At last we were back on the road and on our way to the ranch, my brother-in-law’s beautiful property in Lucia near Big Sur. After unpacking and putting away the groceries, we drove up the coast to Nepenthe one of our all time favorite places to eat or just take in the view (with a cocktail and some cards). It was 5:00 on a Thursday so the crowds were minimal and we were able to sit on the back patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The famous Ambrosia burger and a lovely bottle of wine later and I was feeling blissfully content, as was the birthday girl.
With the winding roads and sheer drop offs, I limited myself to one glass of wine and we corked the rest of the bottle for later! After dinner, we wandered down to Nepenthe’s store, The Phoenix Shop. Years ago for my birthday, my husband had bought me an incredible jade necklace carved by Matthew Glasby, a Big Sur local. My daughter fell in love with another gorgeous piece by him, and it was such a special moment to be able to give her something that is one of a kind and as beautiful as she is. Happily wearing our jade necklaces, we headed back to the ranch, stopping along the way to take photos of the incredible vistas.
The next morning the fog was as thick as pea soup and we languished with books and tea. As the mist rolled in from the ocean, we made plans for the day. My daughter had never been to Sierra Mar at The Post Ranch Inn. Full disclosure, my last experience with lunch a few years ago, had not been a favorable one, but it is such a unique place, I thought it warranted another try.
By noon, the sun was wrestling the gray and seemed to be winning. By the time we reached The Post Ranch Inn, it was shining brightly and we were all smiles as we drove through the magnificent property.
Once inside Sierra Mar, your jaw drops at the view from the floor to ceiling glass windows. It is perched high above the Pacific and you feel as if you have a bird’s eye view of everything as you watch the condors winging by. Lunch was a truly delicious experience this time around, made even better by our delightful waitress, Katie, whose down to earth nature and smile were so refreshing! It is a prix fixe menu and after our 3 courses, we were full but content and ready to head back to the ranch where we had promised each other we would do a late day hike!
We did not waver, and hike we did!
Saturday was going to be our exploring day. We were greeted by the gift of a beautiful fog-less morning and knew we had to take advantage of it. We were out the door and in the car by 7:30 to get to the Big Sur Bakery close to the opening. Heaven forbid if they should run out of those mouth watering pastries! As we were driving up the coast we decided to stop at McWay Falls on a whim. Neither of us had ever walked down the path to see the falls. Usually there are so many cars parked along the road it’s impossible to stop, but at this hour, it was only us and one other car. Wow! I still can’t believe I had never been here before. What a gorgeous little oasis just off Highway 1 and so worth the stop!
After taking dozens of photos, it was on to the bakery. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, this is a must! And on a pretty morning when you can sit outside, well, it doesn’t get much better.
After stuffing ourselves full of pastries (and some extra for the next morning), we continued up Highway 1 to Carmel snapping pics at the Bixby Bridge and other scenic stops along the way.
You just have to marvel at American ingenuity when you see something like this built into such a treacherous landscape.
In Carmel we walked along that glorious stretch of beach at the end of Ocean Avenue
Then we strolled up and down the small roads in town taking in the charming architecture Carmel is known for.
When we got back to the car, we cruised the winding road that hugs the beach which I surprisingly had never done before. It is definitely on my to do list next time to take a long walk on the gorgeous path that stretches for miles above the beach.
Heading back towards Big Sur, we stopped at Point Lobos. It is a State Natural Reserve and contains hiking trails, coves, and a small whaling museum. My daughter had been here before, but it was a first for me. I am still struck by how fortunate we are that California (and Big Sur in particular) has so many of these jewels that are preserved and open to the public to enjoy and experience.
A stop at Ventana , for a light salad at their farm to table restaurant, and we headed back to the ranch. In lieu of dinner that night, we did a cheese and wine spread out on the deck. Now this is my kind of meal!
Our last day at the ranch we decided to spend the entire day exploring and hiking. No car necessary. After the morning fog burned off we started on our trek to the top of the property and were rewarded with stunning views.
After lunch we head to the ocean side of the property, through a tunnel that goes under Highway 1. It’s a bit of a tricky path down and there is no beach, only rocks, but the power of the ocean and the endless vista more than makes up for the lack of sand.
You know when you have a trip where everything just seems to go right and the timing works out perfectly? Well, this was one of those trips. It was made even more special by being able to share it with my daughter on her birthday weekend with memories that will last a lifetime.
One of our favorite things to do in the evenings was to drive down to the ocean side of the property to see the sunset. Nature put on a different show for us every night…
It was the perfect ending to our evenings and a perfect way to end this post.