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1 week in late July...tips for our 4th time...

Galveston, Texas
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247 posts
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1 week in late July...tips for our 4th time...

My wife and I have been to Big Sur several times in the last 7 years. It's been 3.5 years, so it's time to plan another :) We took our boys with us briefly and hit highlights in route to another destination for a day or so in 2006. We came back in 2008 (during the big fire) and 2010 (rainstorm in April), just my wife and I and did a bit more by ourselves each time. This time bringing the kids back to do some things (a little more "off the map") they missed before. They will be 11 and 15 when we go next. We will fly into San Jose late on a Sunday and stay nearby, grab a convertible the next morning and take 101 to get there quicker (unless a better route or reason not to?) Would like to stay a few days down South (Cambria?) We stayed at Bluebird Inn before, and take the kids to Hearst Castle. Want to stay a few days in Central area (Treebones or other cheap cabins?) and then a few days back up North of Big Sur to close it out. That way we can break each section up and explore certain parts methodically. We have done Point Lobos (eh) ... Thinking about doing the Point Sur lighthouse tour (if it's recommended)...Want to take them by Nepenthe, Sand Dollar Beach, McWay falls, Pfeiffer beach, (we've done those) and also do some hikes - we aren't terribly experienced, but have done some hiking (5 mile hikes) here in Texas, but we want to try and find ones that don't take more than an hour or so to get to the "payoff/view" with not too steep of inclines, etc. This is one thing we have not done much of in Big Sur, and hope for some input here. Would one of the maps or Big Sur hiking guides from Amazon be worth the money?

The main goal is enjoy the redwoods, beaches and views (mostly hidden gems and off the beaten path stuff) tips on hidden mountain or beach roads/limited access beaches? Like to do drives or beaches the locals know about, not crazy about huge crowds but can handle it from time to time..., lots of photography, driving with the top down, and don't want to spend much money on lodging since we don't plan to stay in the room except to sleep or shower. Thoughts?

Galveston, Texas
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247 posts
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11. Re: 1 week in late July...tips for our 4th time...

There were a few spots in Point Lobos that were nice, but a few that I didn't care too much for. China Cove was pretty, but not a whole lot more that was as nice as the rest of the coast in general. Bird Island seemed a little over-hyped IMO. We didn't really do many trails (Just Sea-Lion point and Cypress Grove), just mainly drove from point to point to see what was there (maybe I didn't give it enough time).

Have not been to Henry Cowell, but it looks really nice. Would it be better than Big Basin? Just need to get a taste of the redwoods for a few hours, then move on. Won't have time to get into an all day hike.

The Kayaking sounds good in Monterey. I will check that out. Thanks for the tips!

Santa Clara...
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12. Re: 1 week in late July...tips for our 4th time...

Please give Pt Lobos another try. I had suspected you missed the most scenic parts. I completely agree the South Coast trail, sea lions, and Bird Island are meh. The south coast area is wide open and easily accessible to those with cars darting around.

The most dramatic spots in my opinions are the gorgeous and intimate coves like Bluefin Cove between Whalers Cove and Bird Island. It is only about 1.5 miles. You were so close! It meets your criteria of high yield trail with minimum hiking for dramatic payoff. Every turn of the trail reveals another frame worthy shot. If you are patient, you will likely see harbor seals and otter and many birds in the water.

The kayaking is really fun. Gets you out there with the otters. Speaking of the ottets, this PBS Nature documentary just came out about the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded otters. It's worth watching. They release the rehabed otters at Elkhorn Slough and you will see many of the animals tagged.

pbs.org/wnet/…

ETA - yes Henry Cowell over Big Basin as it is much easily to get to. Big Basin is nice but really out of the way deep in the Santa Cruz Mountain along twisty roads.

Edited: 10:10 am, November 12, 2013
San Francisco...
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13. Re: 1 week in late July...tips for our 4th time...

Re: Pt Lobos. I wonder if the problem is in driving from place to place. For me, the magic is taking the time to be surrounded by nature for a period of time. The area is flat enough and small enough that you can do nice trails, even if you only have an hour or two. I've taken my dad when he had mobility issues and he got around fine. through nature

14. Re: 1 week in late July...tips for our 4th time...

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