How We Put Together a Last-Minute Weekend Getaway to Big Sur and Carmel

Big Sur and Carmel are places you HAVE to consider when you think of places to visit in Northern California. Known for the drop-dead GORGEOUS views, the great hikes, and the chance to be a little more in tune with the wonderful gifts of nature and the outdoors, these are destinations that won’t let you down.

We decided to do a quick, but awesome and romantic, trip to scratch these off “Troy & Sasha’s bucket list” and started to plan and book a whopping 2 days before the weekend. We were able to get pretty much everything done that we wanted to do, including all the touristy stuff, considering some of Big Sur was still closed due to mudslides and fires from the past year. (Note: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – the one with the famous waterfall that falls onto the beach – was sadly closed.) Here is how our trip went…


We arrived at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park around 11 am. (We stopped to take pictures of the beautiful coastal views on the way there.)


See! I wasn’t lying about the drop-dead gorgeous views! Once we got to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, we decided to do our own little off-the-beaten-path hike, which we really enjoyed without a bunch of other tourists either walking too slow or trying to make us hurry up and pass us. We found this gem because of our little adventure:


We even saw a family of deer that were 20 feet away and staring at us! After we enjoyed ourselves, we decided to go back and go on one of the actual designated hikes. The only one that was long enough to be sort of a hike out of the trails that were still open was a section of Buzzard’s Roost Trail. It was about 3 miles total out and back, but since there weren’t many open, there were a lot of other tourists on the trail. However, we did find this beautiful opening of redwoods that leaves you in awe of how majestic Mother Nature is.

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After about 2.5 hours of lots of walking, we were really hungry, so we Yelped it and ended up going to Rocky Point Resturant, which had amazing views but pricey mediocre food. Oh well, the views and classy, romantic atmosphere were almost worth the $75 check for 2 people.

On the way to check into our hotel in Carmel, we stopped by the famous Bixby Creek Bridge and walked around some more at Garrapata State Park to see more spectacular coastal views and redwoods.


We checked into our hotel around 5pm – Carmel Village Inn (the most budget-friendly for a last-minute reservation on what seemed to be a popular weekend and it was walking distance to everything in town!) The rest of the day was spent walking around the cute little town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, walking to the beach, checking out the bar scene, and finally calling it a night.


We went to morning mass at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo, a.k.a. the Carmel Mission, which was convenient because it is close to one of the entrances of the famous scenic 17-mile drive. This drive passes by one of the most famous golf courses and some of the most beautiful mansions. It has numerous stops and goes from Carmel to Pebble Beach to Pacific Grove to Monterey, but honestly, a lot of the stops are just more views of the ocean and the golf course with some history behind it. Here is what we thought were worthy of stopping for photo ops:

The Carmel Mission


The Lone Cypress


and Seal Rock (yes, those are a bunch of stinky barking seals on that big rock)


From there, we drove back home to Sacramento and relived our short but wonderful weekend getaway.

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