Road Trip: LA → Monterey

If your resolutions include “exploring more” (and you live in SoCal), your first trip should be to Monterey. This is an underrated destination is the ideal launch pad for some epic outdoor adventures.

1 hour drive → Pinnacles National Park

The newest national park is like a bingo board for outdoorsy types. Endangered animals (ie California Condor)? Check. Hiking AND rockclimbing? Check. Pitchblack caves you need headlamps to traverse? Bingo! Plus, you can see the whole park on a 8.5 mile hike loop.

Here are pics from the High Peaks to Balconies Cave trail, a 8.5 loop that takes you around the whole park.

Pinnacles National ParkPinnacles National Park

45 minute drive → Big Sur

You’re only on the road 30 minutes before you hit Bixby Bridge and staggering beauty of Big Sur unfolds before you. Highway 1 runs between redwood groves on the Santa Lucia Mountains and the rugged Pacific coastline. If you need more convincing, google “McWay Falls”.

Big Sur, CaliforniaBig Sur, California

15 minute drive → Point Lobos State Reserve

Self-described as the “crown jewel of the California state system”, it definitely lives up to the name. Wave carved caves and coves, jaw-dropping coastline and sea animals galore. And it’s 15 flippin’ minutes away from the city center.

Pt Lobos 1Pt Lobos 5Pt Lobos 2Pt Lobos 5

Other Monterey notables:

  • Hula’s Hawaiian Grill (local seafood hawaiian style. Plus, gluten free options and local wine)
  • Happy Girl Kitchen (cafe/food preservists featuring homemade jams and pickles)
  • Pendleton Woolen Mills Outlet (cult-favorite wool blankets at a discount)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (interactive aquarium with touch pools, outdoor exhibits and daily animal feedings)