One year of marriage landed us on the West Coast

Road trip from San Francisco to Big Sur to Moonstone Beach and everything in between

Not to long ago my husband asked me what I wanted for our first anniversary. I hardly had to think before I told him I wanted a trip along the west coast. My husband had never been to California and though I have been several times, I had never driven down highway 1 and seen all of the epic views I’d only seen in movies. I wanted to check this dreamy drive off my bucket list and what better reason to do it than celebrating 1 year of marriage?

The challenge

I knew convincing my husband this would be an epic trip would be challenging. This is not the typical vacation Wade and I usually take. In the past we’ve indulged in all inclusive resorts that sit aside the Caribbean Sea or long stays in 5 star hotels. Not to mention, my husband isn’t exactly your outdoorsy adventurous type, ha! However, I assured him this wouldn’t only be the perfect anniversary adventure but that he may discover something about himself he didn’t even know.

10/28/2018 -Our 1 year wedding anniversary-

We arrived at the San Francisco Airport at 11AM on our anniversary and headed straight to the rental car place.

The Rental Car

We originally reserved a Jeep Wrangler for our adventuring however when we arrived at the rental car desk we were informed there wasn’t one available. We thought it would be pretty awesome and ideal to travel along Highway 1 being able to take the top off, enjoy the coastal breeze and the smell of the ocean and pine trees. Both of us were disappointed when we realized a Jeep wasn’t going to happen but keep our cool and decided on a Toyota Highlander that was available.

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The highlander was AWD, an SUV (sitting up high for good viewing) it had a sun roof, and it had GPS. The GPS actually came in clutch considering most of the time we had absolutely no phone service and the built in GPS was a life saver!

We only had 2 days planned to stay along the coast before heading back to San Francisco for 2 nights.

As soon as we left the airport

And left the rental car place (with no checked luggage to claim) we were all set and rolling on highway 1 by 11:50AM. Our first stop was at:

Devil’s Slide

Devil’s Slide is a beautiful coastal promontory that lies on the San Mateo County coast between Pacifica and Montara.


Military History

At Devil’s Slide there is an exposed base end station, now covered in graffiti.

Devil's Slide was the location of a military triangulation station and observation site used during World War II as part of the harbor defense of San Francisco. Prior to the advent of radar, military personnel used binoculars and compasses to search for ships at sea and relay their coordinates to a central post. By combining information from multiple observation posts, a ship's precise location could be determined by triangulation. (Source)

Mud Pie

Our first day of exploring along highway 1 was accompanied by a lot of fog which was kind of disappointing however, the views were no let down. We then passed by:

Pacifica State Beach

Which is known to the world’s nicest Taco Bell because it is right there on the beach! A well known spot for local surfers to go and get their surf on and grab a taco when the waves get tough.

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Oceanic Society- Half Moon Bay Gray Whale Watching

Was the next stop on the list. This is a popular spot for whale watching (hence the name) however, because of the fog we didn’t actually do any whale watching but it was still a scenic spot to say the least! AND

Pescadero State Beach

is included in some of the photos below.

By the time we hit Half Moon Bay it was time for lunch at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company which was delicious! The beer was good, too. We had a really nice lunch in this cool little spot we found along the way. Half Moon Brewing Company was walking distance from several other restaurants and little shops to go in. We didn’t actually go into any of the little shops because we were starving and by the time we eat our food we needed to hit Highway 1 to continue our adventure.

Tunitas Creek Beach is exactly the kind of adventure I live for

After lunch at Half Moon Bay we hit Highway 1 again. We drove several miles, sunroof open and windows down, taking in the coastal breeze while enjoying the epic views. As we approached this one spot it was yelling my name so I yelled at my husband, “Stop! Stop! Pull over here!” And, he did just that! I had no idea exactly where we were but I knew we had to stop. We hopped out of the car and I saw a path headed down the side of a cliff and down we went! As we got about mid way down we finally spotted a beach. We also saw a rope that was staked into the ground that would guide us the rest of the way down. SO MUCH FUN!

Pigeon Point Light House

was where we landed next. We both really loved this stop. We both love light houses and this one was no exception being it’s gorgeous location. We adored the views and the history this place had to offer. Pigeon Point light house is actually one of the tallest light houses in America and has been guiding mariners since 1872. Around the light house itself are breathtaking views.

Pigeon Point Light House
Pigeon Point Light House

was where we landed next. We both really loved this stop. We both love light houses and this one was no exception being it’s gorgeous location. We adored the views and the history this place had to offer. Pigeon Point light house is actually one of the tallest light houses in America and has been guiding mariners since 1872. Around the light house itself are breathtaking views.


We noticed there is a Hotel at Pigeon Point Light House. It seemed pretty clean and well kept, too. We ha no Idea it was there and hadn’t read about it before visiting. That’s useful to know if you’re into that kind of thing.

National Bridges State Beach

was literally the perfect place to find ourselves during sunset on our First Anniversary. Pictures don’t do this breathtaking natural bridge justice that sits on the coastline of Santa Cruz, but I still took plenty to try.

While enjoying Sunset in Santa Cruz and reflecting on our first year of marriage we took our shoes off and rolled up our jeans while enjoying one another.

Arriving at Glen Oaks

Even though we left San Fransisco a little before noon to set out for all the adventure along side Highway 1 we had only made it to Santa Cruz by dusk. This meant 3 things:

  1. We were about an hour and a half from Glen Oaks (where had reservations to stay for the next 2 nights).

  2. We would be driving the rest of the way to Glen oaks in the dark.

  3. We would be back tracking the next day to see what we’d missed.

At Glen Oaks we reserved a little Sur Cabin and it was AMAZING my husband and I BOTH absolutely loved this place and will definitely be staying at Glen oaks again in the future. These people didn’t leave out any detail. There was a fan in our cabin (which is amazing for me because I can’t hardly sleep without one). There was a fire pit and 2 chairs outside of our door with matches ready to lite! They give you complimentary marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey bars for s’mores making! And, included a complimentary bottle of wine! What a thoughtful way to make someones trip romantic! Oh, did I mention these serene cabins are placed right in the middle of a red woods forest? That’s right, surrounded by the tallest tress in the world and home to the second largest red wood in Big Sur (only a minute walk from our cabin)!

The pictures above were taken the next morning after waking up in heaven along our scenic hike to breakfast at the Big Sur Roadhouse.

The Big Sur Roadhouse

is where we went both mornings we spent in at Glen Oaks in Big Sur and they offered free homemade donuts and a full breakfast menu (for paying customers) that was delicious!

After Breakfast and before hitting Highway 1 back up we hiked and explored around Glen Oaks some more since we arrived the night before and it was pitch black! we even found a pleasant setting with 2 chairs calling our names right by the Big Sur river which ran through the red wood grove where the cabins were (you could hear the water flowing through river at night which was amazing).

Our Little Sur Cabin & Outdoor Area

The Sur House

Is where we had our Anniversary dinner. After arriving at Glen Oaks the evening of 10/28/2018, after putting our things in our Little Sur cabin, we then freshened up and headed for dinner. It was delicious! you can check out their menu here.

10/29/2018 -Back Tracking-

Monday morning after a delicious breakfast, some coffee and exploring at Glen Oaks we jumped back into the car and back towards where we’d came from the night before. About an hour and a half of trip to Big Sur had been in the dark so we back tracked and good thing! the first thing we noticed is that we had truly missed out on some breathtaking views making the last leg of our trip the night before in the dark. Neither of us could wrap our heads around all of the wonderful that surrounded us. I know for me, I just felt so small being around all of the amazing, bigger than life things around me.

It’s safe to say driving down Highway 1 is pretty awesome but comes with a little worry and anxiety, too. There are some pretty spooky spots where 90 degree angles take your eyes off of a seriously high cliff while noticing there’s no guard rail.

It wasn’t long before we approached the famous

Bixby Bridge

There’s 2 words for this stunning bridge that is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world; Absolutely gorgeous!


was next on the list. This little excursion started out rough (it costs $10). My husband I weren’t impressed the first several miles, not going to lie. I was beginning to feel like we were wasting our time when we could be checking other things off of our to-do list for adventures along the West Coast. My husband even said at one point, “We are just driving around in these super nice neighborhoods around these mansions that only make average people feel bad about themselves.” I lost it and died laughing! However my laughter was soon greeted with pure bliss…around mile 4 or 5-ish!The first few stops weren’t terrible but as mentioned above, we were beginning to think we should have skipped this little excursion. Below is a list of all the stops along the 17 Mile Drive that I took directly from official website of the 17-mile-drive.

Map of 17 Mile Drive
Map of 17 Mile Drive

(Source) for photo above

The Lone Cypress

is over 250 years old and is one of the most photographed trees in the entire world.

Unfortunately the sun was in a terrible location to photograph the Lone Cypress and I am not a highly skilled photographer. However, pictures wouldn’t do it justice anyway!

Carmel by the Sea

was the next stop on this list. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small beach town on California’s Monterey Peninsula. This little town is pretty cute and quaint with kind of a European village vibe yet kind of snobby. Yep, I said it, snobby. Wade and I walked around and looked at all of the restaurants and little shops. It seemed as every time we went inside a place to eat or shop we were turned away. “We’re closed right now.” I was thinking really that’s weird because the door is wide open and you’re fully staffed? Anyway no hard feelings there. We looked around snapped a few pictures and got back to our adventuring. I’m not sure if there is a certain time of the day when Carmel by the Sea shuts down for a while and maybe Wade and I weren’t familiar with what was going on or if maybe it is just a little on the snobby side? If anyone else ever visits, let me know how it works out for you.

Point Lobos

is where went next. read about this state natural reserve here.

$10 to enter the state park and park your vehicle.

McWay Falls

is another place we stopped along the way and it’s another state park that will cost you $10 dollars to enter however, Wade and I never mind to pay to get into state parks being the money goes to preserve the area. McWay Falls had a lot of areas closed off during our visit but was still a beautiful place to see none the less.

For Sunset on our last night in Big Sur we made no mistake by discovering and finding a hidden gem known as

Pfeiffer Beach

(Possibly the most beautiful place on Earth)Pfeiffer Beach though located in the heart of Big Sur is a little off the beaten path. It was definitely Wade and I’s favorite beach in Big Sur if not ever. Pfeiffer Beach is only for day use and closes at sunset. No overnight camping is permitted.

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Is where we headed for supper after a picture perfect sunset at Pfeiffer Beach. Too bad it was dark when we had dinner at this place because the views would have been to die for. However, even without the views we still sat outside and indulged in the delicious menu they had to offer. to see the menu at Nepenthe click here.After dinner we found ourselves back at our cozy little Sur cabin at Glen Oaks by the campfire (ready to set a match to our campfire) making our s’mores and drinking the bottle of wine we’d been gifted.

10/30/2018 Before Heading to San Fransisco

We had originally planned to leave Big Sur Tuesday morning but we hadn’t quite seen everything we’d set out to on the coast yet. One of the places on the top of our list was Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California which was further south than we were in Big Sur. After another delicious breakfast and some coffee at the Big Sur Roadhouse we headed to Cambria to checkout Moonstone Beach.

Things we saw along the way

Everywhere you turned along Highway 1 was an epic view, one you wanted to stop and take a photo of, and sit for a while and take it all in. Since Wade and I were pressed for time we tried to only stop at what we thought were un-passable places. It was hard to choose and I’m pretty sure I almost gave Wade more than one heart attack hanging out of the window or sun roof taking photos or videos a majority of time.

Elephant Seals

Click HERE to see the exact location of these elephant seals 

It was mating season for the elephant seals so there were hundreds of them all over the beaches the more south we traveled.

Hearst Castle

is a place we passed shorty after we left viewing the seals. I wasn’t sure what Hearst Castle was and probably wouldn’t have even noticed it expect for as I was gazing at a pasture of cows I noticed mixed in with them, a bunch of zebras. To read about Hearst Castle and its history click here.

Moonstone Beach

is as far south as we went past Big Sur. This was a beautiful beach that Wade and I really enjoyed exploring. There were literally rocks and stones everywhere for as far as you could see. We were actually the only people on the beach (aside from one other girl). We both had our hiking backpacks to gather all of the treasures we found while searching and exploring. We both found a great deal of gems to bring home with us and I’m excited to begin making some jewelry with some of the gems I found for Christmas gifts this year!

After driving back to Big Sur, enjoying the views and the costal smells along the way, we headed for Santa Cruz. Wade was excited to see Santa Cruz because he is a skateboarder and has always told me, “If I would have ever ran away when I was a kid, I would have went to Santa Cruz.” I think that’s funny and it had me thinking, where would I have ran away to when I was a kid? hmmm, probably my Nana and Papa’s house…hahaha!!!

To Read about our journey from Santa Cruz to San Fransisco click Here


Thank you for being here and reading on LovEthic! Love to ALL -Mallory!

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