We woke up on our final morning in Big Sur and drove 13 miles down Highway 1 to Julia Burns Pfeiffer State Park, where we embarked on the McWay Waterfall Trail. This trail is less than a mile roundtrip, and it’s really more of a stroll than a hike. It would be a very good walk for kids. About a quarter mile’s walk takes you to an overlook with a view of an 80-foot waterfall pouring into an idyllic cove.
Walk around the bend for yet another fantastic view of sapphire blue beaches and waves rolling up against craggy rocks.
It’s a very pleasant and enjoyable walk, and easy to fit into your schedule even if you only have a bit of time to spare.
We drove back up the road to Deetjen’s, which is a Norwegian inn and restaurant that we’d been told is the place to go for breakfast in Big Sur. The inn is quiet and rustic, and I think that if I weren’t staying at the Big Sur Lodge, this would be my next choice for lodging. We were seated at a table under a wisteria-covered arbor, where a number of guests quietly perused newspapers over coffee at nearby tables. I ordered poached eggs and toast, while my friend ordered the yogurt and granola parfait. My eggs were good, but I have to say that after reading all the rave reviews, I expected the food to be a bit more out of this world. However, my friend said that the parfait was delicious, and I guess there’s not too much you can do with plain old poached eggs. I was kind of kicking myself for not just giving into temptation and ordering the Eggs Benedict, their signature dish. One thing to note is that our service was a bit slow, which normally wouldn’t be a problem considering the relaxed pace in Big Sur, but we needed to get back to the Lodge in time for checkout. We asked for the bill and then didn’t see a single server for a good ten minutes, so we ended up having to just calculate the bill in our heads and leave cash on the table. That being said, Deetjen’s is quite reasonably priced (our meals and coffee came out to $13 each, including tax and tip), which can be hard to find in Big Sur.
After breakfast, we sadly checked out of the Lodge and said goodbye to Big Sur. Luckily, we had a few more treats to look forward to one our way home. When we had stopped for lunch in Carmel on the way down to Big Sur, we had noticed a small spa called Happy Feet with a great deal for a one-hour foot massage for $28. After our 9-mile hike in Andrew Molera State Park, our feet were killing us, so we had made appointments to stop at Happy Feet on our ride home. The spa is small, with just three massage chairs in a single room, and it’s very clean. Our foot massages turned out to include back massages, shoulder massages, hand massages, basically the full works, which we certainly appreciated. After being covered in a combination of dust, burrs, sunscreen and sweat for days, Happy Feet was the perfect place stop for a little therapeutic relaxation before returning to the real world.
Finally, another must-do on your way to or from Big Sur is to pull off of Highway 1 in Castroville to stop at one of the fresh fruit stands by the side of the road. We stopped at the Thistle Hut, where I bought a half-pound of brussel sprouts, a pound and a half of cherries, two avocados and a tomato, all for just $12. I don’t buy vegetables nearly as much as I should, so I’m no expert, but I at least know that the two avocados alone probably would have cost $5 in a typical San Francisco grocery store.
The cherries lasted me a whole week after returning to San Francisco, and they were a delicious reminder of the weekend down to the last bite.
And thus concluded our weekend in Big Sur, which was, in a word, perfect. The hiking in Big Sur is enough to make it a fantastic place, but throw in delicious food, scenic drives, and the location just 30 minutes away from Carmel, and you have a recipe for one of the best places on earth. I hope to be back for the Food & Wine Festival in November, and you should mark your calendar as well!