Should I Stay in Big Sur or Monterey?

Old Feb 1st, 2004, 08:47 AM
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Should I Stay in Big Sur or Monterey?

What do you think? We'll be traveling in early June... however, we're on a bit of a budget for lodging... would prefer not to pay more than about $150 a night.

We're really in this area to do some hiking around the Big Sur area (Julia Pfeiffer, Point Lobos, etc.) and we also want to go up to Moss Landing for the boat trip in Elkhorn Slough. We'll probably want to do the 17 mile drive as well.

We're not big shoppers... more of the nature types. Not into touristy things, and not traveling with any kids. One more thing is that we're friends traveling, so we're not looking for a romantic B&B and must have a guarantee of 2 beds.

Would it make sense to base ourselves in the Monterey area, maybe Pacific Grove (and be between Moss Landing and Big Sur) or should we aim to try for a stay at Big Sur Lodge (within our budget?) It sounds like it has more character.

Is there enough of a choice of restaurants and places to grab a drink at night in Big Sur, or are we better off on the Mont. Peninsula for a wider range of choices?

Thanks in advance!
Carol
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Old Feb 1st, 2004, 09:38 AM
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If you decide to stay in the Monterey area, check out accommodations in Pacific Grove at the Asilomar Conference Center. Often there are vacant rooms that are rented to tourists, and the grounds and beach are beautiful--and not overcrowded.
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Old Feb 1st, 2004, 11:11 AM
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Given your choices, Mission Ranch is a lovely little place, right on a bay overlooking Point Lobos, owned by Clint Eastwood. It's very close to Carmel Mission and is in your price range ($100 to $155).

Are you talking about kayaking in Elkhorn Slough? Leave early! The wind changes in the afternoon and it can be the devil of a paddle back out!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Thanks Grasshopper, that might be a choice if we can get a room for a decent price (my Frommer's guidebook has rooms listed from $100-$280, so I wasn't sure if this was an option).

As far as Elkhorn Slough goes, no we don't want to kayak, but had heard about a Safari that leaves from Moss Landing from which you can spot a lot of wildlife. Have you heard of this? (www.elkhornslough.com)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 08:12 AM
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FYIoint Lobos is closer to Carmel(and therefore Monterey) than it is to Point Lobos. If you are planning to go to Elkhorn Slough for a day trip, I also think Monterey is a better choice. I am a big fan of Pacifc Grove. Underhill's suggestion of Asilomar is a good one. Much of it was designed by Julia Morgan. And..after Elkhorn Slough do stop in at Phil's Fish House for a casual but good meal. (also in Moss Landing)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 09:03 AM
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Phil's is great and I highly recommend it.

Out of selfishness, part of me would rather say it is terrible because it has become very popular in the last several years and can be crowded.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 09:08 AM
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I think Monterey is a good choice for a homebase given the range of places you want to visit, and it will also give you way more dining options. Elkhorn Slough is really great for birdwatching especially, and Point Lobos is awesome for all kinds of wildlife watching. It's alos fun to just stroll along the water in Pacific Grove and look for otters--hope you have binos! Enjoy your trip.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 05:02 PM
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This is all great info...
Don't worry J Correa, we're strict vegetarians, so at least WE won't add to the crowd at Phil's

Any votes out there for staying right in Big Sur?
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 05:10 PM
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I loved staying in Big Sur, partially because we stayed at the Post Ranch Inn and partially because it is one of the most beautiful places I've been to. It is a totally different vibe than Carmel and Monterey. I have also stayed at the Tickle Pink Inn in Carmel Highlands which I can highly recommend. Not sure what they are charging these days.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 05:28 PM
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Carol, I worked at Big Sur Lodge for a summer, way back when (there were hippies everywhere). It is a beautiful place, but I think given the choice I'd stay at Carmel Mission Ranch and just do a day trip to Big Sur.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 09:42 AM
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Carol - that's good to hear about being a vegetarian -

While in Moss Landing, you might want to check out a restaurant called the Whole Enchilada - it's got good Mexican food and a great atmosphere and I saw some vegetarian dishes on the menu - most had cheese so if you eat milk products, it's a good bet. It's right on Hwy 1.

If you take the boat tour of Elkhorn Slough, make sure to report back with the details - I've been thinking about doing that too.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 11:37 AM
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I'd recommend you stay up near Monterey (or Carmel, or Pacific Grove.) Big Sur is a lovely area, but there's definitely more "civilization" if you will, further up the peninsula. It's certainly feasible to just make it part of a day trip. My advice would be just to head down there first and then make your way back up for your lodging. Point Lobos is right up in Carmel. Also, since you'd be driving the coastal road down there (presumably), you might consider skipping 17 mile drive. Many people - travelers and locals - have told me it's not worth it if you've seen the other. I have heard though, that the lodge is a great stay if you want to stay in Big Sur.
iamq - just stayed at the tickle pink... our room was around $250/night. And that was the off season. i think in June it's probably well out of the range CarolM is wanting to pay. (but a very nice splurge!)
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