From San Francisco or San Jose to our Big Sur Coast
Let's go to Big Sur! the famously beautiful stretch of Pacific Ocean coastline, a few hours' drive south of San Francisco. Australian painter, Frances McComas, is frequently quoted as calling the Big Sur coast "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world."
Usually we go 2-3 hours south and come back on the same day...total duration 10-11 hours. We include stops in Monterey & Carmel—they're en route. Mostly you enjoy panoramic views, and we stop occasionally to breathe in the pure air and for memorable photos. On this tour we always visit the iconic Bixby Bridge--it's the one you've seen in nature calendars and sportscar ads. (FYI the best photo ops vary with traffic, access to a rocky coast, and mostly whether fog obscures the vistas...which it does sometimes but usually not.) You may choose to enjoy lunch on the terrace of the legendary Nepenthe restaurant or at the exclusive Post Ranch Inn, one of Zagat's highest rated--both sit on cliffs overlooking the Ocean; if we're pressed for time, however, we can grab lunch from a gourmet deli and enjoy it sitting above Carmel's white-sand beach or in a park. If you're up for a really long day, we can plan to travel all the way to the little known yet spectacular! McWay Falls waterfall, which shoots out from a cliff and drops 80 feet to the beach below--for which we charge a little more. No one lucky enough to see the Big Sur coast on a clear day fails to say "Wow!"
Back in Carmel or Monterey, you can peruse a few of Carmel's hundred art galleries and its quintessential quaintness, visit the beautiful 1770 mission church...recently sainted Spanish missionary Junipero Serra is interred there...and Steinbeck's (tarted up) Cannery Row, the views from Clint Eastwood's restaurant and,or the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium. Unlike with other companies, if the fog is thick and unrelenting, you won't spend hours staring out at a gray mist--we'll consider other activities for your enjoyment. We can try dropping in to taste at one of the great local wineries, or appreciating the unique "fairytale" and modern home designs for which Carmel is known. Depending on your priorities, some attractions better fit an overnight itinerary--which allows for a more leisurely tour (for hiking, window shopping, wine tasting) but also significantly more expense.
Why Go with Us to Big Sur and,or McWay Falls? Why not just rent a car and drive ourselves? Much cheaper, yes. Be aware, however, that the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is two winding lanes over steep ups and downs, for over a hundred of its miles. Passengers get to enjoy the ever changing scenery, the driver best focus on the road. As for cost, it is one of our most expensive itineraries...usually in the neighborhood of $900 (NOT per-person) for a single round-trip, plus meals...but when are you going to be in this region again?
From decades of experience we know the best pull-overs for panoramic vistas. Besides, how much time do you want to spend looking for clean restrooms and those elusive gas stations? We show you the off-the-beaten-path places many visitors miss, let you determine our pace and choose where we lunch...helping you remember that you're on vacation, minimizing your stress, maximizing your enjoyment.
This is one of our most popular but also our most expensive tour. Very few (if any) tour companies go as far south from San Francisco or San Jose. Why? Because it makes for a long day (10-12 hours). Even...God forbid...without stops for photos of breath-taking vistas, the drive alone from downtown San Francisco is nearly 6 hours round-trip. Our fee is based on our guide/driver's time, gas (unusually expensive as of summer 2022) and a few incidentals, but there are no hidden or surprise add-ons. So expensive, yes. But when are you going to have this opportunity again?