When you get an email from American Airlines saying that you have 48 hours to use your frequent flier miles or they will expire, you don’t hesitate – just BOOK! I completely forgot that I had these miles saved up (from my very first credit card in college), and thank goodness for that email otherwise I would have unknowingly thrown 26,000 miles down the drain!
I’m pretty sure Phil received about 20 panicked text messages in a row that Monday morning. Luckily he already had a destination in mind for our next vacation, because by that afternoon, he cashed in some of his Delta miles and I, my miles on American Airlines, and lo and behold, our last-minute, 2nd anniversary trip to California’s central coast was booked!
One of Phil’s coworkers and his wife are frequent travelers to Big Sur, California and they could not say enough wonderful things about the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Their recommendation absolutely did NOT disappoint. This was one of the most amazing locations we have EVER stayed.
We arrived late on Friday night, so by the time we got in, we crashed immediately and didn’t take in much of our surroundings. However, the view from our room and from breakfast overlooking the Big Sur coast bright and early on Saturday morning was breathtaking! The whole resort sits literally cliff-side, and is one of the most picturesque locations we have ever visited (including Hawaii).
Phil definitely did his research on the area and knew there would be some amazing sites on this trip, so he rented a convertible for the weekend, which was especially perfect for our first day’s activity – the epic and famous drive down California’s Route 1.
Pictures seriously don’t do this drive justice. It offered some of the most unique and gorgeous cliff-side sights I have ever seen in my life. While we were riding top-down in the most perfect weather, I did my best to capture some of the scenes by pretty much hanging out the side of our car and grasping on to my phone for dear life.
We started our trip from Big Sur and drove through some of the well-known stops including Old Coast Road and Bixby Bridge (AMAZING), and decided to stop at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which we were told had some incredible hiking trails.
The first part of the park we visited was the McWay Waterfall Trail, which is a simple, 3/4 mile “hike” but really it’s a short trail that is a very popular stop along Highway 1 because of it’s spectacular view of the 80 foot falls.
Phil and I were absolutely in awe of this site…hence the pensive shot of Phil I was able to sneak 🙂
This was by far my favorite part of the trip, and we definitely took our time taking in the sites at this spot.
We decided to keep exploring the park and take advantage of the gorgeous weather that day, so we made our way to the Edwoldsen Trail, a 4.5 mile hike that offered some really diverse scenery – redwood forest, canyon and ocean views, and some serious elevation almost the entire hike. I’d like to think we’re in pretty good physical shape, but this hike kicked our butts. The views were totally worth it though!
The hike started off in a gorgeous redwood forest with HUGE trees. What was interesting about them was we noticed they were all covered in ash, which other hikers said was due to all of the wildfires that occur in California.
I mean, these guys were monstrous…Phil took this shot of a fallen tree trunk for perspective (and I received a lot of compliments on my Royals shirt during this hike)!
The views continued to surprise us as we hiked higher up – the terrain kept changing!
The views at the top were absolutely amazing – including a view looking down on to Highway 1!
It was such an amazing day and I’m grateful we were able to make it back in time to soak in this gorgeous sunset view from our room.
The following day we decided to explore a nearby town, Carmel by the Sea, a gorgeous and quaint beach-side town with a big emphasis on local artists and wine.
Note: I was incredibly snap happy this day, so many of these are SnapChat photos.
We started the day by attending mass at the Carmel Mission Basilica, a beautiful church just outside of the town.
After walking around the town for a bit, we decided to check out the local wine tour which included tastings in 5 of their 14 tap rooms. When the woman at the visitor’s office suggested that we share a tasting, we scoffed at first, but we ended up being very grateful for her advice later on!
Our first stop was Wrath Tasting Room, where we ended up meeting a couple who had just returned from a trip to Alexander Valley, which they actually recommended over Napa (insert mental note for 2017 trip).
Just next store to Wrath (which was brilliantly placed, in my opinion) was the Carmel Cheese Shop where we were offered cheese samples to our heart’s content! We seriously almost bought the whole place and took it back to Kansas with us, but somehow resisted.
Our second stop was the Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room, which was by far our favorite wine of the tour (so much so that we returned there later and bought a bottle to enjoy during the Royal’s game that night…more on that later!)
After Scheid, we decided to walk through the town a bit and make a quick pit stop to the beach area (and creep on all of the beach-front properties to see how much they were worth on Zillow. No surprise – they were REALLY expensive).
After our wine tour we returned to our hotel where we posted up with our Scheids wine and watched the Kansas City Royals defeat the New York Mets in Game 5 of the World Series!! It was tough not to be in Kansas City to celebrate with everyone after the game, but the trip was totally worth it and it was clearly better luck that we weren’t there after all!
On our last day in California, we decided to explore downtown Monterey. It ended up being a rainy day but we were able to duck in to a few of the shops and try a variety of local olive oils!
On our way to the airport, we decided to leave enough time to visit Pebble Beach and make the 17-Mile Drive. I’m so glad we did because like Highway 1, the views were incredible!
We ended our drive at the clubhouse and completed geeked out as we perused the pro shop and all of the Masters memorabilia!
We ended our tour of Pebble Beach at the Stillwater Bar & Grill and enjoyed the view of the course over cocktails and oysters!
Big Sur was one of my all time favorite locations that we have visited, and we are looking forward to returning again!