Planning Our Trip: San Fran, Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur

OK, so I finally set down last week and booked a lot of our California trip. For our ten year anniversary we are headed to North California and I am beyond excited. Sam and I haven't been on a trip alone like this in a decade and it's highhhhh time. The last time we went to California Sam got food poisoning for half the time we were there so we have some serious catching up to do on the west coast. I know.

photo by stan russell

I've been dreaming of Big Sur ever since I saw photos from my sister, my brother, my dad and my friend Jen. Dream just doesn't even cut it. We will be flying into San Francisco and working our way down the coast. I've gotten so many amazing recommendations and I doubt we'll be able to cover all of it but I wanted to share them in one spot here. Hope you can dream along with me or if you're planning a trip here, you'll get some ideas! Also, if there is anything amazing I've missed please feel free to leave your recommendations in the comment section and I'll add them to the list.

photo via here

Let's get started!

San Francisco:

We won't have much time here, but we'll have lunch here our first day and then spend our last day and evening here as well as the following morning. I also have a best friend that lives here so we'll be grabbing a drink with her and her boyfriend as well! So fun.

+ Food + Drink:

- Boulette's Larder
- The Cliff House
- Tartine Bakery
- The Slanted Door for drinks
- Miette for cupcakes
- Cowgirl Creamery

+ To do:

- Ride bikes over Golden Gate bridge
- Muir Woods
- Alcatraz tour
- Take a cable car
- Lombard Street
- Pier 39
- Ferry Building
- See the Painted Ladies

storybook cottages in carmel via hooked on houses

Monterey/ Carmel

+ Food and Drink

- Clint Eastwood's restaurant
- Bag pipes + drinks at sunset at Pebble Beach's The Inn at Spanish Bay
- We made dinner reservations here
- Happy Girl Kitchen

+ To do:

17 mile drive - this was recommended over and over. Can't wait!
Point Lobos Natural Reserve - sea lion and otters! We are also going during whale watching season!!
- Carmel's storybook cottages

the ventana inn via sb digs

Big Sur

+ Food + Drink

- Deetjens for brunch
- Big Sur Bakery for breakfast or dinner
- Ventana Inn for dinner
- Nepenthe for sunset cocktails
- Fernwood Grill for pizza

+ Where to Stay

- Ventana Inn - upscale with japanese baths and spa
- Glen Oaks - modern cabins
- Treebones - yurts and great sushi

+ What to do

- Esalan hot springs - a midnight soak in the hot springs. clothing optional!
- McWay Falls - so stunning!
- Pfieffer Beach - picnic and cocktails at sunset

This is past Big Sur, but I would LOVE to visit the Hearst Castle. All the heart eyes!

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  1. We did our honeymoon in San Fran, Fresno (friends' wedding) and Carmel! I wish you would have posted this 3.5 years ago ;)

  2. My husband and I just did this trip for our 5 year anniversary this summer! It was AMAZING! The one thing we didn't do that we totally regret is booking a whale watching tour in Monterey/Carmel. We split our stay in Big Sur between Ventanna and Glen Oaks. We stayed in the Big Sur cabin at Glen Oaks and it was the highlight of our trip. There is a private outdoor space with cast iron tubs and a fire pit, it was so romantic and cozy and just amazing. Their restaurant, Big Sur Roadhouse was actually our favorite place to eat, we ended up eating there multiple times on our trip, the food was sooo good. Ventanna is super nice and fancy, you really feel like you are being pampered, we ended our trip there but if I had to pick a favorite over the two it would be Glen Oaks. I still day dream about that cabin. We stayed three nights there and two nights at Ventana and it was the perfect amount of time for both places. Hope all this info helps and I hope you have an amazing time!!!!

  3. Definitely check out Hearst Castle if you can make it over there! Hubby and I went on a mini honeymoon down the coast (Monterey to Santa Barbara) and it was an incredible trip (even though Big Sur was, sadly, foggy when we drove through)! Definitely check out the mission in Carmel! They have an incredibly beautiful garden! If you want to spend less time in the car, 17 mile drive is also very popular among bicyclists. I think there are enough vista points to take breaks at reasonable intervals.

  4. Sounds like y'all are going to have an amazing time! Can't wait to hear how it goes!


  5. Your trip sounds great. I love how organized you are – I have the hardest time planning out all the details of the trips I take. Those storybook cottages look so magical – have fun!

  6. Living out here I can say you are hitting all the best spots!! I do think Hearst is super overrated and touristy but still tons of people love it. That's just my 2 cents.


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