First stop: Carmel
It was about an hour and half drive to Carmel from home in San Jose. On the way there, we were scrambling trying to find a brunch spot and across our Google searches we found, From Scratch Restaurant in Carmel. It was featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, so we knew it had to be good. I had the Banana Walnut pancakes with a side of bacon and fruit. They were the best dang pancakes I ever had with big pieces of walnuts and banana in it, with lots of cinnamon.
After we had brunch, we went the next town over from Carmel, called Pacific Grove. It is a super cute little town with old Victorian homes. Also, between the months of November to February, huge groups of monarch butterflies make their homes in the redwood trees that line the coast.
Point Pinos Lighthouse
As we drove through Pacific Grove, we made our way down to Point Pinos Lighthouse. Founded in 1855, it is the longest standing lighthouse on the West Coast.
Starting the journey down Highway 1
The notorious Highway 1 or Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) if you’re from SoCal, is notorious for a reason: it is very rugged and beautiful. It goes along the coast of California and you can start in San Diego and go up to the tippy top of California, you can start in the middle, at the top: it really doesn’t matter.
Pacific Grove down Highway 1 to Big Sur
We started our trip down to Big Sur in Pacific Grove and stopped along various spots, including McWay Falls and Bixby Bridge, to take photos. I want to point out that Big Sur isn’t a town, but rather a name of an area that has a few campgrounds. When people say Big Sur, it kind of includes the drive down Highway 1.
About 20 minutes down the road, we stopped at this point that had access to cliffs that overlooked the shoreline. When driving along the highway to Big Sur, you really have to keep a lookout at the coast because you just might miss something.
After this we kept driving, for almost an hour down highway 1 till we finally reached, Bixby Bridge! There were tons of people there who were also trying to get the best shot, but it wasn’t terrible to wait with a terrific view of the ocean anyways :).
After stopping at the lookout point for about 20 minutes, we crossed the bridge and made our way down to Julia Pfieffer State Park to view McWay Falls at sunset. The parking lot for the falls is on the left of the Highway 1. You park there and then walk through a tunnel to a look point over McWay Falls. You can’t get down to the beach because it is protected.
As the sun went down, we left McWay Falls and made the almost 2 hour drive home. It was very tiring but worth it to see so much of my home state’s beauty.