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Trip Report Carmel/Big Sur Area Trip Report

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I recently enjoyed a quick weekend in the Carmel area of California. Many thanks go out to all the patient Fodorites who answered my questions. Here’s a little trip report. I traveled with my mom and our goal was just a low key weekend. We aren’t foodies, so there’s not much reference to meals.

Friday, April 20- Uneventful flight to San Jose. We rented a car from Thrifty, full size for $9/day, for a total of $52 with all the fees and taxes.

We were hungry after the long flight and it was lunch time anyways, so we headed over to the In-n-Out on the other side of the airport. I had been wanting to try it after hearing raves for so long. It was an absolute zoo, but we received our food quickly. It was quite good for fast food and certainly hit the spot.

We then hit the road. We first stopped in Monterey for a short walk along the waterfront and Cannery Row. We picked up some candy at a cute little shop (something with orchard in the name) and then proceeded onwards. We drove through Pacific Grove, but didn’t stop. Our focus was on the 17 mile drive. We entered through the PG entrance.

It was a glorious day and the views were wonderful. We stopped at nearly every pull out. I climbed over rocks in some places, peeking into tide pools. I was hoping to see a sea star, but no such luck on this trip. I saw a sea urchin, tiny crabs and a little fish.

The showstopper for me was the lone cypress. The whole setting is gorgeous.

We took our time and really enjoyed this drive. Upon completion, we exited via the Carmel gate and made our way to our hotel, the Best Western on Junipero.

This hotel is in a perfect location. It’s just a block from Carmel Plaza, walking distance to the beach, and conveniently located next door to a market for snacks.

The only downside is that it has no air conditioning. It was boiling hot in the room the first day. Only when the sun went down did the room cool with the window open.

After unloading, we proceeded on foot to wander the streets of Carmel, doing a little window shopping along the way. Eventually, we got quite tired after a long day, so we decided to get dinner at Bruno’s Market and Deli next door to the hotel.

April 21 – Big Sur day! We were out the door around 7:15 to hit Highway 1. The weather was outstanding once again. Along the way, I pulled over countless times to admire the views and take pictures.

We popped into some general stores along the way, but found nothing exciting.

Our first destination was Pfeiffer Big Sur Park. We hiked the Valley View trail and enjoyed it very much. I loved the trees!

Next was Julia P. Burns Park. The falls and the short walk are outstanding. The color of the water was so beautiful, it made me think of Hawaii. I wish I could have spent the day sunbathing on that beach!

We were pretty hungry by the time we were done with the park, so we headed to Big Sur Bakery. It was really good.

We took our time driving back to Carmel. We passed Pt. Lobos and cars were parked for a mile in each direction along the roadway. Wow!

We spent the rest of the day walking the streets of Carmel and down to the beach. I enjoyed watching all the dogs frolicking.

April 22 – We headed to Point Lobos Reserve, arriving right at opening time. We drove first to the parking lot at Whaler’s Cove looking at seals. We drove onwards to the parking lot by the cypress grove trail. We walked the cypress grove trail, and found it amazing. We also walked the seal point trail and the south shore trail. It was super foggy, but beautiful.

We eventually tore ourselves away and I took my mom to the Carmel Mission for mass.

After mass, we decided to mix things up and we went for a drive inland, enjoying green hills and farmland.

After returning to Carmel, we had a little rest back at the hotel and then we went back to Pt. Lobos to enjoy more hikes, especially since the fog had cleared out. We walked the Cypress Grove trail again, along with the Whaler’s Cove trail and some of the North Shore. It was even more stunning with the clear, bright sky. It was late in the day, so the crowds were gone and we nearly had the park to ourselves. I was quite surprised actually, thinking it would still be busy. It was a great way to conclude our trip.

April 23 – Goodbye California! Loved this part of the state and definitely want to return again some day!

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