After catching a sugar-high at the Museum of Ice Cream, it was time to get back to camping. We did have a fun stop between San Francisco and Carmel at a winery for the weekend. A chance to celebrate with family and friends we haven’t seen in months took us to the Big Crush. We all attempted to eat all the wine and drink all the food….I mean.. I couldn’t get enough of the winery pool – I never thought we’d see nice enough weather again for a dip this year! Our drive down the Pacific Coast Highway made me happy that I wasn’t the driver! I need all eyes not on the road to soak this up.
I was so excited to try out “glamping” in Carmel and not have to worry about setting up all of our gear. This picture-perfect craze has been popping up near so many of the national parks we’ve visited and peaked my interest. Most of the tent camping spots in this area are $50+, so when I found these canvas tents were less than a $20 difference, it seemed to be worth it. Don’t make that mistake. I should know that if anything looks too good online, it’s probably just not true. Sadly, this was probably one of the grossest stops of the trip – down to the blood stained sheets. I think it goes without saying, but we’ll be sticking to our own tent in the future.
17 Mile Drive
The 17 mile drive is a private stretch along the coast from Carmel through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. You do have to pay to get in but you can easily spend a few hours taking in the sights. Here you can hang in the sand, climb over rocks, and all the birds sun bathing on Bird Rock. My favorite stop was seeing a seal swimming around looking for snacks at the Cypress Point Lookout. I love being able to see these animals in the wild!
Our Favorite Stops in Carmel
La Bicyclette – This cozy italian-style pizza spot was the perfect place to continue a beautiful relaxing day after taking our time on the 17-mile drive. In what seems to be a local favorite, we found good priced vino and yummy thin crust pizza. A great stop before going to catch the sunset.
Salumeria Luca – An authentic Italian bakery and deli can be found in the heart of downtown Carmel. The smell drew us in as we were walking around the blocks looking for an interesting lunch spot. Here we found fresh baked bread and olive oil cake to take on the road. The standouts are a couple of the best sandwiches of the trip. I’ll argue this spot serves the best spicy calabrese salami I’ve ever tried. They have plenty of gelato and other sweets that look delightful, but if I were you I’d just get another sandwich.
Hotel Carmel – A fun little bar decorated with vintage beer cans and a tape bar in the lobby. I saw this on a blog several months ago and have become a little obsessed with recreating something like it in our home one day. Save me all your tapes! If you’re interested in the hotel here, definitely check out Morgan Lillian’s California Coast Guide too.
We took a short drive down to Big Sur to camp and hike around Julia Pfieffer Burns and Andrew Molera State Parks. The roads in this area were recently reopened after a mudslide, but most of the park trails were still closed. The picturesque McWay Falls (first picture!) was partially open and we were able to hike out to the beach at Andrew Molera. We did find one of the best campsites of the trip here at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Main Camp. This was easily one of the largest campsites, so even though it was full, you didn’t feel like you were on top of your neighbors. The best part though was getting lost in the twinkling stars blanketing the sky. I never realized how little I see stars until going on this roadtrip.
I hope you enjoyed part two of our Pacific Coast Highway stops! How stunning the water and waves are from these cliffs just can’t be done any justice from photographs. You’ll just have to go see it too!
Next Up: LOS ANGELES (insert all the happy dance emojis here!)