For anyone looking for breathtaking scenery and views, the cliff-hugging and winding central California coast from the Big Sur Coast Highway to Carmel is among the nation’s most scenic and spectacular drives. We started our trip from Carmel and thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this charming and artsy community.
It is often referred to as Carmel-by-the-Sea because it is nestled among the contours of a beautiful white sand beach. Carmel is rated a top-10 destination in the U.S. year after year and just about everything is within walking distance from your hotel or inn. There are restaurants, shops, art galleries, performing arts and more to enjoy.
There are numerous hotels and charming inns in town, but we decided to stay at Carmel Valley Ranch in the Valley which extends from the coastal village of Carmel-by-the-Sea into the heart of the Santa Lucia Mountains. On this 500-acre resort we were able to enjoy the natural beauty and beautiful weather this area is known for. The hiking trails, organic gardens, outdoor pools and an incredible spa are within walking distance from your room. Deer roam the property and will delight visitors with a close-up view. In addition to the beauty there are numerous activities for adults and kids to enjoy.
The resort also has an amazing golf course which is the only Pete Dye design in Northern California, with an 18-hole, par-70 course which has earned a reputation for its stunning views, friendly wildlife, tactical challenges and playability.
On our drive on this scenic highway we were provided with a recording that detailed what we were going to experience on the drive through Big Sur. We were able to understand the landscape, the cliffs, the nature and the wildlife as if we were on a guided tour. I can honestly say this drive is not for the faint of heart. There were numerous sighs, OMG’s and times I actually closed my eyes and held my breath.
Along the drive is the Bixby Bridge, one of the highest bridges of its kind in the world, soaring 260 feet above the bottom of a steep canyon carved by Bixby Creek.
The bridge is Big Sur’s version of the Golden Gate and has numerous turnouts for visitors to check-out the amazing views. On the very top of the cliffs we stopped at Post Ranch Inn to enjoy the views and have lunch at Sierra Mar, the inn’s spectacular restaurant that has received Wine Spectator’s prestigious Grand Award. The unique combination of breathtaking views, mouth-watering entrees and award winning wines make this a must-see on your visit to the California coast.
If you are interested in staying at this Inn, it accepts only adults in this serene retreat. There are no televisions or alarm clocks as this is a place to reconnect with your partner and the environment. The 39 guestrooms and two private homes blend rustic elegance with luxury and comfort, offering stunning ocean or mountain views.
When you reach the start of Big Sur, redwood groves reach skyward, the Santa Lucia Range plunges into the sea, and waves are breaking on ragged rocks. There are few words that can describe the scenery. Average mature trees are from 200 to 240 feet high with diameters of 10 to 15 feet at 4 feet 8 inches above the ground. Exceptional individual trees sometimes reach a height of 350 feet, a diameter of over 20 feet, and an age of approximately 2000 years.