My husband Dave and I are so grateful to live in a city that has a wonderful downtown and is in close proximity to so much else in California. One of our favorite holiday season day trips begins here in downtown, takes us to a few special places in Monterey and ends back here for a wonderful evening.
We start early in the morning and grab coffee and breakfast ‘to-go’ from Coffee Guys or GVA Café. Both are perfect spots to fuel up for the day ahead. We then take off and head south along Highway 1 toward Big Sur. It’s whale-watching season and the views along the highway are breathtaking — especially during the morning hours with the sun at your back. In about 90 minutes we cross the iconic Bixby Bridge while taking in the majestic coast range and pods of breaching whales.
Our first stop is Partington Cove. This is one of Big Sur’s little known secrets and takes you to a dramatic waterfront. The entrance in unmarked. When we reach milepost 37.5, six miles south of Nepenthe Restaurant, the road curves right and we slow down to find the trailhead. We park along the highway and head down the path. It’s a little steep so we wear good walking shoes. After about a mile, we take the left fork of the path. There, it takes us over a wooden bridge as we cross Parkington Creek to the entrance of a century-old wooden tunnel. At the end of the tunnel we emerge on a path that follows the ridge of Parkington Cove with the waves to our left. The trail ends at a water’s-edge bench with waves crashing over the rocks. The view, the whales, the crashing waves, and sheer power of the ocean is amazing. Unforgettable really. We soak it in.
Next stop is about 10 minutes south on Highway 1 — Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We park the car along the highway and take the easy, 10-minute walk to an oceanfront overlook that includes a view of McWay Falls. You may have seen it on the cover of Sunset Magazine. Here the water drops more than 80 feet from the top of a granite cliff to a pristine white sandy cove with turquoise waters below. This really is the biggest-bang-for-not-much-work hike on Earth.
By now we’ve worked up an appetite and head north on Highway 1 stopping off at the Big Sur River Inn Restaurant for burgers and seats on the balcony overlooking the river and redwoods. In the summer we opt for the Adirondack chairs in the river, but it’s too chilly for that in December. After lunch we continue north taking in the breathtaking scenery and crashing waves. As we leave Big Sur we stop at Highlands Inn to enjoy a glass of champagne and take our last views of the coastline and whales as we watch the sun set.
Sixty minutes later we’re back in Morgan Hill where the downtown is lively, the trees are lit, the holiday spirit is alive, and we have many excellent restaurants to choose from. This night we decide on Ladera Grill and have a wonderful dinner. We toast “to the amazing place we live.”
Kerry Wallace is an MHDA Board Member. She and her husband, David Dindak, own Bubbles & Brew in downtown.
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