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Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

Ely, Minnesota
Level Contributor
352 posts
23 reviews
Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

Our plan for next Saturday is to leave our Rio Sands Hotel early and head to Garrapata State Park. We really don't want to get stuck sitting in traffic and it's my understanding from some other posts that this is about as far south as we want to go to avoid heavy traffic congestion. Our goal is to see some of the more dramatic scenery in this area, but we'll come back to Big Sur when the roads are open. So first of all, does it make sense for us to drive to Garrapata to see some of that dramatic scenery?

Then we're going to do some hiking at Point Lobos as we head back north. My end goal it to hit the Pacific Grill at Moss Landing for dinner, so I think we're looking for a light lunch around Carmel or Monterey. Maybe authentic Mexican, but something else like good appetizers in the moderately prices range would be great.

I'm also open to suggestions for how to spend our time before we head to Moss Landing. The aquarium? Thanks!

6 replies to this topic
Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,063 posts
10 reviews
1. Re: Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

The heavy traffic congestion is occurring in Carmel at Highway 1 and Rio Road. Point Lobos and Garrapata are both south of that, so you might as well make a day out of exploring Big Sur because you're not going to be able to avoid the traffic issues.

Edited: 17 June 2018, 23:28
Ely, Minnesota
Level Contributor
352 posts
23 reviews
2. Re: Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

Thanks for clarifying, Kibbles. I've been really confused about this.So I guess we either stay north of Carmel for this trip, or just decide to deal with traffic. So is traffic in this area always an issue or just this season due to the road closures?

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,063 posts
10 reviews
3. Re: Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

Highway 1 through Carmel is always a bit heavy because the highway narrows from 2 lanes to 1 heading south. I would just go for it. Big Sur is worth the wait coming and going

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
21,258 posts
76 reviews
4. Re: Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

If you do go down to Big Sur, you could have lunch at Nepenthe.

Carmel, California
Level Contributor
4,771 posts
11 reviews
5. Re: Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

Summer weekends are always busy but this season there's construction at the intersection of Rio Rd and Hwy 1 (south end of Carmel) that's causing northbound back ups when people return from their Big Sur day trip. The dramatic scenery starts just south of Carmel and you can drive as far south as you feel like and turn around. Getting an early start can alleviate some of the congestion/parking issues.

Point Lobos opens at 8am and I would go there first. Parking fills quickly on weekends so by going early, you'll be able to drive in. Otherwise you'll need to find parking along the highway and walk in.

There are multiple parts to Garrapata which doesn't have an entrance gate or fee https:/…GarrapataSPWeb2012Rev.pdf Soberanes Point and Soberanes Creek Trail are about 7 miles south of the intersection of Rio Rd and Hwy 1 and the stairs leading down to Garrapata Beach are about 2 miles farther south. Parking is along the side of the highway.

Congestion/parking can be an issue at the turnout for Bixby Bridge.

Pfeiffer Beach (2 miles down Sycamore Canyon Rd off of Hwy 1) has a very small parking lot and you'll be turned away at the highway if it's full. This summer a new shuttle is running Thursdays through Sundays from Big Sur Station to Pfeiffer Beach https://www.bigsurvice.com/

McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns is about as far south as you'll probably want to go for the day. This is another busy area but is worth seeing if you've decided to keep driving south.

For Mexican in Carmel, there's Cultura or Pescadero but depending on how far south you go, you may not be back in time for lunch.

Level Contributor
39,086 posts
1,014 reviews
6. Re: Hiking, coastal scenery, lunch (maybe Mexican) help

Are you set on Pacific Grill in Moss Landing? The Haute Enchilada is a really good Mexican restaurant there with an outdoor patio. The Whole Enchilada in Moss Landing is also really good for Mexican food. Moss Landing has some cool antique stores also if you want to schedule time for that. Have fun! :)

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