Big Sur, California
September 2006: Even on foggy days, a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Big Sur is breathtaking. We drove the 200 miles or so to San Simeon and stayed a couple of nights. Allow plenty of time for the drive. It took us six hours, with a stop for lunch and lots of stopping for photos along the way. Speaking of lunch, just past Santa Cruz is the small town of Capitola. Take the Bay Street exit, turn right and go a few blocks to Gayle's Bakery and Rosticceria. Triple yum!
About 10 miles south of the village of Big Sur is Julia Pfeiffer State Park. Stop there for a short hike to two of the most beautiful vistas on the coast (see the photos to the right), including a view of the 80-foot McWay Falls. These vistas are via a 1/4 mile easy hike. For a more ambitious hike, take the 4.5 mile Edwoldsen Loop trail from the parking lot (with a 1,200 foot elevation gain) through towering redwoods. Your reward at the top of the trail is sweeping coastal views from high along a ridge. You also have nice mountain views to the east.
Fortunately, most of the Highway 1 is undeveloped. So remember to get snacks and gas before you leave Carmel.