Our Adventures Along The Beautiful California Coast

A trip along the California coast is the perfect way to relax while enjoying breathtaking views. Last spring, we took a trip along the California coast, and had such a great time we hope to go back next year. Everywhere we went, it felt like we were standing before a beautiful screen saver picture!

Where We Went

During this trip, we visited Carmel-By-The-Sea, Monterey, and Big Sur. When we planned our trip, our goal was to relax, hike, and simply explore the area . We visited for ten days, and had prepared an itinerary in advance, but were open to changing our plans as needed. Our goal was not to overpack our days with constant activities.

The California coast area was a new adventure for us, so we wanted to take the time to admire and experience the beautiful setting. Ten days gave us plenty of time to explore without feeling rushed, but even within half that time, we would’ve been able to enjoy the area just as much. When we return, we plan to visit some of the beaches we didn’t get to see, and try new hiking trails in Big Sur.

Here’s an overview of the beautiful places we visited, and still stand out in my mind … our trip highlights.

Note: Trips are unique to each traveller depending on the length of stay, purpose of the trip, and travel style. Therefore, my intent for sharing about our trip is to give you an insight into the area, along with our experience and helpful tips. My goal is to help you simplify the planning of your trip, and your experience while you visit.

Carmel River State Beach

Carmel River State Beach was on our list of places to visit, so it was the first one we went to. It’s a mile-long serene beach with beautiful view and photo opportunities. We easily spent a couple of hours there, walking around and exploring. Since we went there right after our late breakfast, we didn’t bring lunch food with us, but it would’ve been an ideal location for a picnic lunch anywhere at that beach.

Carmel Mission

The Carmel Mission was founded in 1771, and is still active today. It is an active Catholic parish, museum, and school. We enjoyed touring the Mission grounds and buildings, while taking in the history and art displayed throughout. The Mission is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a couple of hours at. We arrived there in the late morning, and enjoyed a late lunch at one of the restaurants near the Mission.

Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach is one of the top attractions in Big Sur, and once we were there it was easy to see why. We enjoyed a long walk along the beach, while taking in the views and the purple sand along the way. There isn’t purple sand everywhere, but you will find patches of it along the way. We were lucky it had rained a bit the day before, so the purple sand was easily visible. The weather changed from sunny to gloomy while we were there, but we didn’t mind it, since we’d already dressed in layers. I highly recommend that.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Hiking was on our list of things to do, and Pfeiffer Beach had impressed us, we decided to go hiking at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The hike was fairly easy and and highly rewarding. We took the Pfeiffer Falls trail and the Valley View trail. It was definitely a great way to spend the day and get some exercise. If we return to Big Sur, this is definitely a hike I’d like to do again.

Bike Ride From Cannery Row

One of the activities on our list was to go on a bike ride. So, we rented some bikes at Cannery Row, and rode on the biking path for a few hours. The day was perfect for this, and although many other people had the same idea of going for a bike ride that day, the path never felt too crowded. We enjoyed a leisurely bike ride and stopped a few spots to take in the views. After a lunch stop along the way, we returned the bikes and had the rest of the afternoon to relax.

California Sea Otter Game Refuge

The California Sea Otter Game Refuge in Monterey is a location we picked at random for exploring. We were actually out for a drive after breakfast, and decided to stop there to see the views and take a walk. This location is breathtaking! The powerful waves and calm tide pools between the rocks were absolutely beautiful. We walked on the rocks as far as we wanted, and enjoyed simply being out there. This was an absolutely one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is certainly known as one of the main attractions in that area. We arrived there mid-morning on a weekday, and although the Aquarium was extremely crowded, we still enjoyed our visit. The Aquarium was smaller than we’d expected, and didn’t have as many attractions as we’d anticipated. However, it did have various outdoor areas to take in the views from and (hopefully) spot some wildlife. The indoor exhibits are nicely displayed, and we enjoyed being able to see some of the marine animals up close.

Where We Stayed

We stayed in Monterey, within walking distance of Cannery Row. That location turned out to be perfectly convenient for us. It was nice to be able to walk to restaurants and take a walk along Cannery Row. There are plenty of options there for food, shopping, sporting equipment (bikes, kayaks, etc.) rentals, and places to stay. It was also a good driving distance from the locations we wanted to visit. Carmel is located next to Monterey, and we took full advantage of that. We fell in love with that charming city, and ended up there every day for one reason or another.

We stayed in a condo we rented on Airbnb. Since we were visiting the area for ten days, we definitely wanted the convenience of having a kitchen and laundry facilities. While traveling, I always find it more convenient to be able to enjoy breakfast at home, and even some dinners. I always find it makes for a more relaxed feel to our days. Not having to constantly find a place to go buy a meal at, is definitely one of the ways we simplify our life while traveling. That, and being able to pack light by having access to laundry facilities.

How We Got Around The City

When traveling, we specifically enjoy walking to places as much as we can because we get to see much more of the city that way. In Monterey, we chose to stay in the Cannery Row area so we could walk to places as much as possible. We enjoyed having the option to walk, but were also conveniently located to the other locations we wanted to visit.

We traveled in a Tesla car, and it was pretty comfortable and enjoyable. It was our first time taking a road trip in an electric vehicle, but we actually liked it and found it was pretty easy to do. Locating Supercharger stations was simple, and it generally took us about 20 minutes to charge the car. We actually welcomed those stops, because it was a nice way to take a break and stretch or grab a snack.

Where We Ate

Since we don’t plan our days around restaurants or certain meals, we usually just went to local restaurants wherever we happened to be at meal times. We ate at different restaurants each time, but found we generally gravitated towards Carmel when it came to going out for dinner. When we bought lunch to take on a hike or picnic, we bought that food at Cannery Row.

Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to the California Coast and look forward to visiting again. As much as we got to experience during our visit, there’s so much more we’d like to see and do there. Those beautiful ocean views are definitely call out to us!

What are your highlights of the California Coast? Which places would you recommend?