Traveling the coastal Route 1 through the Big Sur region of California has been on my bucket list for years. On our multi-month road trip this past winter, I made it a priority to detour through Big Sur. Often times, when visiting new places, expectations are high and can exceed actual experiences – leading to disappointment. This was not the case with the Big Sur highway! We visited in February and the weather was absolutely perfect – cool nights and warm, sunny days. Our road tour started in the San Simeon region of Southern California. We spent a couple of nights at the Hearst San Simeon State Park and explored the area surrounding San Simeon and to the south on day trips from the campground.
On our first day, we arrived at the campground in the afternoon hours and set up camp. Once that was complete, we took a walk on the trail leading to the beach and explored the coastline. There was a little bit of fog rolling in here and there giving the whole place a mystical ambiance. It was heavenly!
Lots of seagulls were basking in the late afternoon sun!
We stayed on the beach as the sun was starting to set and were rewarded with the nice, subtle colors of a spectacular sunset!
The following morning we set off on a day trip south to explore an area called Moonstone Beach. I noticed this location on the map and fell in love with the name! It is a small beach community with an oceanside boardwalk path traversing the length of the town. We noticed lots of small, bohemian-style hotels lining the main drag. It looked like a very nice, laid-back atmosphere in which to enjoy a pampered vacation.
After strolling the boardwalk at Moonstone Beach, we drove north through the village of San Simeon in search of the Elephant Seal Vista Point! The best time to visit and view the elephant seals begins in mid-November and extends to mid-May. They frequently gather on beaches along the coast and are fascinating to watch! More information about their life cycle and behavior can be found on the Friends of the Elephant Seal website.
We could have spent the entire day with the elephant seals but we had a reservation for a wine-tasting at the Hearst Ranch Winery and had to tear ourselves away! The main ranch for the winery is located in the Paso Robles area inland from the coast but they have a tasting center in San Simeon that is situated right on the water. It was a beautiful location and we had a fantastic host who greeted us and explained the wines. He was a good storyteller and shared some history of the area and the Hearst Castle. Unfortunately, the Hearst Castle – which sits atop the mountain across the road from the winery – was closed due to road erosion from a recent rainstorm. I was disappointed that we could not take the tour of the castle and grounds but now we have a good reason to come back for another visit! We left the winetasting with 4 bottles of wine – which meant the wine tasting fee was waived – but even with that deduction I’m not even going to mention how much that set us back financially! 🙂
After leaving the winery, we headed back to the campground and enjoyed some spectacular scenery along the way. 🙂 This valley leading down to the water captured my eye and I had to stop and take a photo!
We were back at the campsite when the sun was setting and, all of a sudden, the sky was ablaze with color. I grabbed my camera and ran to a spot where I had a clear shot of the ocean and sky. Amazing!
Stayed tuned for the next leg of our journey along the Big Sur highway!