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Monterey Peninsula City Trip

Big Sur and Highway 1 offer unforgettable vistas on California's Central Coast


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Where to Stay Where to Eat What to See & Do

MONTEREY PENINSULA TRIP DAY 2: Lovers Point, Hearst Castle and Forest Theater

If you're an early riser, head over to Lovers Point in the former Methodist-enclave-turned-community of Pacific Grove for a beautiful sunrise. Then trek a few blocks inland to the Red House Cafe for a hearty homemade breakfast. Once you've laid the paper and coffee to rest, jump in the car and head south on Highway 1 toward Big Sur, where sky, sea and redwoods meet in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. You'll pass Point Lobos State Reserve, where you can either drive in and cruise along the shoreline, or park on the outskirts and hike in along a mostly-flat trail. From there, continue your drive along the spectacular shoreline, enjoying views of historic Bixby Creek Bridge (instantly recognizable from almost every auto commercial) and Point Sur Lighthouse. To avoid angering the locals and endangering your car, if you park to take a picture, make sure you're not blocking any roads and that you're all the way off the road. When hunger pangs strike, you have options from Nepenthe's patio with its eclectic gift shop and spectacular view, to the funky Big Sur Bakery, with its delectable pastries and house-baked bread.

A view of Point Sur Lighthouse in Monterey, California

You could continue all the way to Hearst Castle (reservations required for tours), but we recommend you turn around at Nepenthe. If driving 70 or more miles in a day isn't your cup of tea, you can get a slice of the coastal experience by hitting the Peninsula's only toll road — the 17-Mile Drive — and cruising by the Lodge at Pebble Beach, where The Bench beckons with casual dining and great views of the most beautiful 18th hole in golf.

Either way, after lunch you should head into Carmel and park. If you don't mind a little walking, street parking from 8th Avenue south is free and without time limits, or you can leave your car in the Carmel Plaza's garage, which is closer to shopping. In the one square mile that is Carmel-by-the-Sea, there are no house numbers. Everything's indicated by directions like, 5S of Dolores on Seventh, which means, count five houses south from the intersection of Dolores and Seventh.

Check out the theatrical offerings at the Golden Bough or Forest Theater before engaging in tasting aged dairy delights at the Cheese Shop in the Plaza. Be sure to also sample the all-natural cosmetics at Lush on Ocean Avenue.

Let bartender Drago pour you a drink at Terry's in Cypress Inn in Monterey, California

Art lovers will find numerous galleries throughout the Village for all sorts of tastes. Happy (or Yappy, if you have a canine companion) Hour at The Cypress Inn's Terry's Restaurant & Lounge features Drago, bartender to the Rat Pack, and a menu of delicious small bites for your tasting pleasure. Stay for dinner — or for a real splurge, make reservations at Aubergine where Chef Justin Cogley is turning out wildly creative plates with fresh, local ingredients. Round out your evening with a relaxing soak at Refuge hydrothermal spa, just five miles east on Carmel Valley Road — it's open until 10 p.m. nightly.

Continue to Day 3

*Top image courtesy of Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau

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