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Big Sur {Travel}

There are so many beautiful places to travel across the US, but driving up California’s Highway 1 between Big Sur to Carmel-by-the-Sea has got to be up there as a ‘must do’ thing.  I am crazy lucky to have an aunt who lives in Carmel {she owned an art gallery for years, which is so very ‘Carmel’ –  I love it}, so I feel kind of at home in this beautiful place, and I don’t get there nearly enough.  

Coming from the east coast, I usually land late, when everything’s dark {I’ve found that the easiest thing to do is to fly in and out of San Jose, and rent a car for the 1.5 hour drive to Carmel.  The Monterey airport is super small and I’ve had more cancelled/delayed flights out of there than I’d like}.  The next morning, the first thing I want to do when I get there is drive down the coast.  The highway is narrow, and windy, and a little nerve-wracking, but it’s so worth it!  There are a bunch of pull-offs where you can park {equally as nerve wracking…you’re literally on the side of a cliff!}, and get out and walk around to take in the views and get some good pics!!  Bixby Bridge is one of those spots  – an iconic California bridge with such a pretty design, and amazing views.  

From Hurricane Point, one of the highest spots on Highway 1 {it’s super windy!}, you can see  north, south, and west, including a great view of Bixby Bridge.  This is also the most killer {and, afterwards, the most satisfying} point of the Big Sur Marathon, and if you’re into running, I definitely recommend you check this out!  

We continue to drive south to Ventana Inn & Spa, for a quick peek in the shops, then through the restaurant to the amazing view, and as a former wedding planner, I fantasize about the magical events you could have in this space.  Down the road a little further is the sweetest post office you ever did see – with the ever-dream-worthy bright orange California poppies out front.  

The final stop is always the Nepenthe, usually for lunch + pink lemonade {so sweet and yummy!}, while we take in the views.  This place has such a cool vibe, with tables, and stadium seating on one side {concrete steps with pillows!}, and has been around FOREVER, so it’s like the 1940s meets boho-chic, and it’s just perfect.  Sometimes it takes some work to scout out a premier spot at the long table by the railing, but it’s always worth the time and effort to be able to sit back with a drink {sometimes something a little stronger than pink lemonade!} and just look at the expanse of the mountains and the ocean.  After lunch, and lots of pictures, they have the cutest shop underneath the restaurant, with lots of great trinkets and even fancier things – like handmade jewelry by area artists.  

I’d love to branch out to some newer stops on my next trip – which I HOPE will be sometime within the next year {I usually like going in the spring}.  There are so many cute places tucked away in those hills.  They’ve had some damage to the road over the past year due to landslides but this stretch is unaffected.  I can’t talk about how much I love this place enough – to stand there in the midst of something so beautiful and huge, it just fills up your soul, and you feel as though you’ve seen something really magical.  It’s the definition of awe-inspiring.  Until my next visit, I’ll be staring at these pics, trying to remember the smell of that air.  

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