San Francisco to Big Sur Trip Guide Part One | Half Moon Bay and Monterey

We are wrapping up the most epic trip that we just took to California for our ten year anniversary. I really struggled to find some solid advice on making the trek from San Fran to Big Sur so I thought it would be fun to create my own travel guide with some tips and tricks we picked up along the way. I seriously have never had a more amazing experience, especially in the states. The California coast is completely magical. If you've been following along on instagram you've seen a taste of the beauty but there is no way to truly capture the breathtaking views, although I tried!

We flew in to San Francisco International airport. You can also fly into San Jose but we wanted a little taste of SF. Instead of going into SF for lunch we headed south. We passed through some cute little surf towns and took the scenic route of Highway 1. You HAVE to take this route. We were struggling to stay on the road with all of the gorgeous vistas along the way. We also passed through tons and tons of organic farm land. We were staying the night in Monterey so we decided to stop at Half Moon Bay for lunch. We ate at the Ritz (seen above) which was a total splurge for lunch but the views inside and outside the restaurant were to die for. I had the burger and Sam had a salmon sandwich, two drinks and we were at the $100... just to give you an idea. :) It was our anniversary! Ha! We walked along the hotel grounds afterwards which were completely gorgeous.

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The drive from Half Moon Bay to Monterey was so lovely. So many oohs and ahhs came from our convertible (which is a must btw!). You'll pass through a ton more farms with fabulous prices on produce if you wanted to stop for some fresh fruit or avocados. Literally saw a sign, "10 grapefruits for $1." WHAT. We stayed at the Monterey Plaza for the night which was recommended to us by the concierge at our hotel in Big Sur.

The Plaza is completely gorgeous with balcony rooms overlooking the harbor (photo below taken from our balcony), amazing outdoor seating, sea otters, whale sightings and plenty of seals. :) We had dinner at Schooners which is their on-site restaurant. It was an older crowd for sure but the view was lovely, dinner was great and the hotel was so gracious to give us $20 off our meal for our anniversary along with some chocolate covered strawberries which were delivered to our room. We were really wiped out so the convenient location was great; however you may want to poke around for some hipper dinner accommodations if that's what you are going for.

The next morning we were cracking up because we left the window open to hear the waves and were awoken by the loudest seal noises. I woke up at the crack of dawn and just watched the sunrise. So amazing. We ordered absolutely perfect almond milk lattes to-go (why the heck do we not have those in the south?!) from the adjacent Cafe La Strada and headed down the "rec trail" which is a trail for bikes, walkers, runners that goes along the ocean. The weather was perfect and the trail was pretty quiet during the week.

Here you will see the Monterey Bay Aquarium (really famous aquarium), Harbor Seals, gorgeous wildflowers, sweeping cliffs and ocean views and Lover's Point in Pacific Grove. There are so many great benches to take it all in along the bath. It's all flat so it's a super easy walk.

We had breakfast at First Awakenings (shown above) which was recommended by the cafe girls and totally on point. Super amazing "bacada" omelette (bacon + avocado - yes please) and a class egg and sausage plate for Sam. Huge portions, happy bellies. After breakfast we headed towards Carmel to do the 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach. You pay $10 to see the Pebble Beach golf course, a few iconic views like "the lone cypress" and whoa-baby mansions. I told a couple that we met on our trip that I didn't think this was a "can't miss" situation. If you have time or love golf, then you'll enjoy it for sure but it wasn't my favorite part of the trip by any means. If we had had another night in Monterey we would have gone to see the bag piper at sunset which would make the drive really magical.

What to pack: comfortable walking clothes + shoes, there is so much ground to cover on foot. The California vibe is relaxed so I was a bit overdressed and hindered by my wardrobe choices. Definitely bring layers too, warm in the sun and cool as soon as the sun starts setting.

Stay tuned for part two: Carmel

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  1. How fun to hear about your trip! Looks so beautiful!


  2. Glad you enjoyed California so! This little stretch of the state is a part I have not yet ventured into (we've only been here a little short of two years) but I'm hoping to make it up that way, maybe this spring! Thank you for the recommendations!

  3. The places I saw here are really wonderful, celebrating a special event like this with the beauty of nature is really cool. When you are at party places in the Bronx, there's nothing you can do than to be happy. I really liked it here.


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