We spent our 1st of 3 nights in Paso Robles. Although I wish we'd had some more time to check out a few more wineries, we still were able to enjoy the wine of the region! Paso is about a 3-4 hour drive from LA and is located inland in San Luis Obispo County.
On our drive to Paso, we stopped in Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande. If you're planning to do the same, I recommend checking out:
- Old West Cinnamon Rolls and Espresso (Pismo Beach) - As a group of four, we devoured a walnut and an original. Please spend about 2 minutes staring and drooling at the picture of the cinnamon rolls above.
- De Palo & Sons (Pismo Beach) - In the same sitting as our cinnamon roll devouring, we also ate about an entire pound of De Palo & Sons' homemade mozzarella. A friend had recommended this Italian deli and we went HAM (pun absolutely intended)!
- Talley Vineyards (Arroyo Grande) - we brought all of the above-mentioned food to this winery and enjoyed it all while sipping on some delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. This was a gorgeous spot and worth a few hours of wining and dining.
During our stay in Paso, we went to some local Tasting Rooms and had a really great dinner. I highly recommend checking out:
- The Fableist - a few years ago, my mom and I were introduced to The Fableist's Cabernet Sauvignon. Since moving to California, I've tried looking for the bottle all over but haven't been able to find it and so was so excited to be able to check out their Tasting Room in Tin City. If you're unfamiliar, Tin City is a name for an industrial park in Paso Robles. If we'd had more time, we would have absolutely walked around and explored this area.
- Tooth & Nail Winery - this was such a cool tasting room nestled in a castle! Highly recommend checking it out because it's quite a magical experience.
- Fish Gaucho - this restaurant was POPPING and luckily we were able to put our name in for dinner and got seated in less than an hour. We ordered way too much food because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, but I recommend checking out the Gaucho Nachos (OMG!), and the BBQ Chicken Burro. Holy moly the food was good!
We stayed in Carmel for two nights, but because we booked our trip very last minute, all of the hotels and bed & breakfasts in downtown Carmel were sold out. We ended up at the Carmel Mission Inn, which was perfect for a group of four and an easy drive into Big Sur as well as to Monterey and Point Lobos.
Some of my favorite spots we visited in Carmel:
- Forge in the Forest - the highlight for this restaurant was the Cookie Skillet. Oh my goodness, this was delicious. We strategically ordered less for dinner to save room for this gooey deliciousness.
- Cottage of Sweets - this shop is styled like a traditional, British sweets shop and we stopped in for some fudge and candy. I'm sensing an overall trend, that my favorite parts of Carmel were the food - specifically the desserts :)
- Caraccioli Cellars - we stopped in here before dinner and shared a bottle of Rosé. After we had ordered, we found out that they're known for their Brut Rosé (oh well, an excuse to come back!)
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve - this was quite a magical place for sightseeing and definitely could have spent many hours here. We saw seals sunbathing (if you look closely, they're featured in one of my pictures above!) and cormorants nesting. There were 100s of nests that had been constructed on the sides of rocks - all the pregnant cormorants going through their pregnancy together. Too cute!
A number of my friends sent over some incredible recommendations for the Carmel area - and because of our limited time I didn't get a chance to check them out. Here are some highlights of the places I'll visit when I head back to Carmel: Mission Ranch for dinner, The Bench (in Pebble Beach), Sunset Lounge at the Hyatt (Carmel Highlands), Lafayette Kitchen and Cafe.
Many of you know that Big Sur experienced a massive landslide in 2017. For months, Highway 1 was covered and inaccessible. However, in late 2017/early 2018 most of the damage has been reversed. If you're planning a trip soon, make note that the only way to access Big Sur is by driving Southbound on the 1, because the highway is still blocked off past Gorda.
I had never been to Big Sur before, and as an East Coaster had only heard of it through the song "Big Sur" by The Thrills from The OC Season 1 soundtrack (Ryan & Marissa 4ever). I assumed that Big Sur would have tons of beaches, but I could not have been more wrong. Big Sur doesn't really have any beaches. It is mostly an outdoor oasis with lots of hiking and miles upon miles of coastal driving. It was beautiful and very isolated - with limited cell phone connection spanning the entire drive.
When I was planning my trip, I was surprised that when I asked people for recommendations they offered the same few places to stop - and that's because there are not many establishments. I'd highly encourage you to pack snacks because there's not a lot of places to stop! We did stop for a morning snack at Big Sur Bakery, which consisted of pastries/baked goods. They apparently also have delicious lunch and dinner offerings. We stopped by Nepenthe (a spot known for its incredible views), but by the time we arrived for a late lunch, they were completely booked for the rest of the day. Word to the wise - they only take reservations for 6+ people, so either get there very early to snag a seat, or skip it like we did.
Make sure to check out:
- McWay Falls - this is not a hike. It is just an amazing photo opp and the most beautiful water.
- Limekiln State park - this is a moderate hike to a waterfall. You have to walk across a few creeks, so expect to get wet if you don't have great balance.
- Treebones Resort - I'd heard of this spot from a friend (shout out Karli!) and we ended up stopping by so I could grab a souvenir. Consider staying in one of their Yurts overnight! Also, as you drive over here you'll past an incredible field of pink and orange wildflowers. You can see them pictured above.
- Bixby Bridge - this is a famous bridge that you drive over when heading into Big Sur. But definitely stop for a photo opp!