The Rocky Creek bridge is the less famous of the CA Highway 1 arched bridged in the California Central Coast. This bridge is nearer to the Monterey Peninsula by a few miles but if you are driving along the CA Route 1 route, you will pass both the Rocky Creek Bridge and Bixby Bridge. Bothe these bridges were made in 1932 but the Bixby Bridge has a longer arch and both has vista points where you can take pictures and videos of the romantic and post card perfect central california rugged coasts. It is located in Monterey County a few miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea and just north of the more famous Bixby Creek Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway. As its name implies, it spans the Rocky Creek.
Address: CA Highway 1 South (in monterey county)
Directions: CA Highway 1 South (in monterey county)
The Bixby bridge is just one of the Many Bridges you cross to and from Monterey Going to the Central Coasts of California to Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Lucia, Pismo Beach, Cambria, etc along the Historic CA Route One. The Bixby Bridge and the Rocky Creek bridge are two of the more famous Arched Bridges here in the romantic California Pacific Coasts in between Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties. This bridge is often sen in many TV commercials and is one of the Most Photographed areas of the Spectacular Vistas along the Central Coast of California and driving in it is sheer joy along the jagged cliffs and the winding roads coming and going from it. The bridge is located 120 miles (190 km) south of San Francisco and 13 miles (21 km) south of Carmel in Monterey County and is the longest concrete arch span at 320 feet (98 m) on the California State Highway System. There are vista points at both ends of the bridge where you can take photos and videos of the wonderful postcard perfect area around the Bixby Bridge.
Address: CA Highway 1 South (in monterey county)
Directions: CA Highway 1 South (in monterey county)
Driving up to the Highway 1 for 95 miles from CARMEL will lead you to Hearst Castle, It is a 2/12 hour drive along the scenic and winding roads of CA Route One where you can do several photo stops along the many points of Interests along the Route (like Bixby Bridge, Rocky Creek Bridge, Point Sur, Ragged Point, etc). In the Hearst Castle, there is no single grand tour of the complex, what the administrators did is to split the tours of the Hearst Castle into 4 kinds of tours (to be able to make more money?) and you can do all of them if you have a whole day and part of the night free time ok.
according to their website:
All tours view the Castle’s two spectacular swimming pools—the outdoor Neptune Pool and the indoor Roman Pool. All visitors will also receive a ticket for our exclusive 40-minute film Hearst Castle – Building the Dream, shown on a five-story screen at the Visitor Center’s Hearst Castle Theater. This fascinating glimpse behind the scenes is shown all day at forty-five minute intervals. The first screening begins at 8:15 am.
Grand Rooms Tour
View the magnificent ground floor rooms of La Casa Grande (big house) where Mr. Hearst's guests met their host and were entertained during their stay at La Cuesta Encantada (the Enchanted Hill). See the Assembly Room, where guests met for cocktails, the Refectory, where meals were served, the Morning Room, Billiard Room and Theater. Your knowledgeable Guide will bring this estate to life sharing stories about Mr. Hearst and his many guests who visited for nearly three decades in the early part of the last century. Stroll the grounds at your leisure at the conclusion of your guided tour inside the castle.
Upstairs Suites Tour
View guest quarters and Mr. Hearst's private floor as you climb high up inside the castle. Visit two libraries and learn how Mr. Hearst's art collection was utilized in the castle. Stroll the grounds at your leisure at the conclusion of your guided tour inside the castle.
Cottages & Kitchen Tour
Visit the Wine Cellar, two lavish guest houses (including the one Mr. Hearst used when he first stayed here), and the surprisingly modern kitchen. Stroll the grounds at your leisure at the conclusion of your guided tour.
Fondest memory: Ticket Prices:
Tours Adult Ages(5-12)
Grand Rooms Tour $25 $12
Upstairs Suites Tour $25 $12
Cottages & Kitchen Tour $25 $12
Evening Tour $36 $18
Children under 5 are free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Prices are subject to change without notice.
I did the grand rooms tour 21 years ago and on a revisit, did the Upstairs Suites Tour.
Address: 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452-9740
Lucia is a Small Hamlet in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range at the Winding and Scenic Highway 1 and is bannered by a small lodge and restaurant where there are spectacular views of the pacific Ocean and they have a 10 room lodge for people who want to savor the view and have some privacy. While primarily a motel and lodge on the side of the road, this is a nice place to stop and rest for a while. You can stop in at gift and convenience store and pick up something to eat at the tables, or even stop in at the restaurant.
address: 62400 Hwy 1, Big Sur, CA 93920
From the North:
Big Sur Valley - 22 miles
Monterey / Carmel - 48 miles
San Jose / Silicon Valley - 110 miles
San Francisco - 180 miles
From the South:
Hearst Castle - 38 miles
Cambria - 50 miles
Morro Bay - 70 miles
San Luis Obispo - 85 miles
Santa Barbara - 180 miles
according to their website:
Lucia Lodge is an historic cliff-side resort located in the heart of the Big Sur coast.
The lodge was constructed on a secluded stretch of Coast Highway One in the 1930’s by the Harlan family, which settled the area in the latter half of the 19th century. Today Lucia Lodge is run by the 5th generation of the Harlan clan and enjoys the same level of peace and solitude prevalent from the beginning.
Ten updated cabins and rooms, family style indoor/outdoor dining, and a quaint country store await you. A gift shop within the store carries arts & crafts from local artisans.
Lucia Lodge is located adjacent to highway one in the village of Lucia, 50 miles south of Carmel, California, and 40 miles north of San Simeon / Cambria, California (home to Hearst Castle). You can make a reservation to stay in one the cliff-side cabins or ocean view rooms… stop in just for lunch or dinner, or visit the store/gift shop.
Lucia lodge is famous for its close proximity to the ocean. No other Big Sur resort gets you this close to the sea. The lodge is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the Big Sur coastline and the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains. The cabins are situated along a southwest facing cliff 300 feet above the Pacific Ocean which offers an unparalleled view of the Big Sur coast.
There is a large deck adjoining the restaurant where you can take in a home-cooked meal and view the whales swimming along their migration path. Or, enjoy the ocean view from inside the historic restaurant while enjoying fireside dining.
The location of Lucia is also a perfect launching point for exploring the rest of Big Sur. Check out the links on this site to familiarize yourself with the wildlife, locate great day hikes and nearby beaches, or find fun locations to visit… all within 10 minutes by foot, to an hour’s reach by car.
About 10 miles from Carmel, right along Carmel Valley Road, you will find beautiful and expansive Garland Ranch Regional Park. This 4500 park ranges in elevation from 200 feet along the beautiful Carmel River to about 2000 feet at Snively's Ridge overlooking the entire valley. The park is maintained and operated by Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District as well as volunteer docents who man the small visitors center near the main entrance and parking area.
We spent perhaps two hours hiking here in April 2008. We arrived around 11am and parked along Carmel Valley Road, then we crossed the beautiful Carmel River where a woman and her dog were playing in the water. We began hiking south along the flat and wide Lupine Loop for less than a half mile before making a slight detour on the Mesa Trail to check out the Rumsen Grinding Rock which was used by local natives to grind acorns into flour. Our next stop was just 5-10 minutes away at the Siesta Point Overlook, where we relaxed on a bench and had a picnic lunch. Then we moved on along the Cliff Trail hoping to see the waterfall in the small stream that was unfortunately dry. We ended our trip by heading over to the visitors center via Sycamore Trail and Lupine Loop, back across the flat, open former ranch lands. The visitors center was closed, but there were plenty of brochures about native plants and animals, park maps, and mountain lion and rattlesnake warnings.
The park has numerous other historical, recreational, and nature opportunities for visitors. History buffs might enjoy the old barns, corrals, and homesteads of the old Garland Ranch. People seeking recreational opportunities other than hiking the 50 miles of trails might enjoy the more limited number of trails open to horses and bikes, as well as the athletic fields located near the town of Carmel Valley. Nature opportunities include the Buckeye Nature Trail, the Fern, Stock, Veeder, and Mesa Ponds, as well as the variety of plant and animal life through the park.
Besides the main parking area along Carmel Valley Road, visitors can access the park from Via Las Encinas Road, East Garzas Road, Paso Hondo Road, De Los Helichos Road, and Hitchcock Canyon Road (via Southbank Road and Esquiline Road). Water for people, horses, and dogs is available throughout the park.
The Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District has been in existence since 1972, and its mission is to preserve open space in the area around Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel. Since its inception the parks district has secured 20,000 acres of land in 24 parks and open spaces all preserved for environmental and recreational reasons. The parks district is funded by a 1/2 percent allocation of the property tax collected in the region (comes to about $5 for the district for every $100,000 of property value). Since 2004 residents have paid an additional $19 per household per year to increase the scope of this open space preservation.
Garland Ranch Regional Park is located just a short drive up Carmel Valley Road, and is a great place to get away from civilization for a while. This park has easy to difficult trails that go from elevations of 200 to 2000 feet. It is flat along the old floodplain, but the trails ascend steeply up the Santa Lucia Mountains, where there are spectacular views of the region.
There are marked trails for hiking, biking and horses too. Dogs are permitted.
The Mission Ranch is a hideaway hotel and has a wonderful restaurant/bar experience. Located at the end of Dolores Street in Carmel-by-the-Sea, behind a white picket fence, you can feel the tranquility as you step out of your car unto the parking area. 1850's style buildings are in your immediate view but looking around you spot a field of green grass and the ocean in the distance.
This is all now owned by actor/director/producer Oscar Academy Award Winner Clint Eastwood since 1986. The former Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Clint Eastwood drops by now and then to visit with friends at the restaurant/bar. A word of caution, no paparazzi and please do not bother Clint Eastwood or he might become one of his movie characters, "Dirty Harry". Instead, enjoy the lasting beauty of the fields and ocean from the patio dining area or inside by the bar, just listening to that all familiar soft spoken husky voice calling out, "Oh really". Wow, being in the presence of an icon of the film industry and just sitting back enjoying the view with a cold one in hand.
Thanks, Mr. Eastwood, for preserving a little of a bygone era at the Mission Ranch. The location may be a little off the beaten path, but well worth visiting, not only for the view but for the ambiance and character of the hotel and restaurant/bar.
Maybe not too far off th beaten path as a restaurant, but as a tourist attraction Carmel's Mission Ranch is a bit unique and seldom visited. The original 160 acre property belonged to a native American named Juan Romero, but he sold it in 1852 to Monterey shopkeeper William Curtis. This property then transformed into one of California's first dairies. Later, during World War II, it actually became an officers club for American military members.
Later, pieces of the ranch became the Carmel River Elementary School and the Carmel River State Beach, leaving just 22 acres today. Hollywood superstar Clint Eastwood came on the scene in 1986 when he purchased the property and saved the area from becoming ugly old condos. He restored the entire ranch to its 1850s appearance (plus tennis courts, which probably weren't a hot item in the 1850s...). The oldest remaining building on the property is the old bunkhouse from 1850, and the farmhouse dates back to 1852.
Rooms at the ranch are from $120 to $300 a night, and they offer spectacular views towards the west over the beaches and Carmel Bay toward Point Lobos State Park. Meals at the highly acclaimed restaurant are served from 5pm until about 10pm, and most entrees range from $20 to $35 each.... about normal for the area!
Mission Trail Park is the town of Carmel's largest park and it boats 35 acres of native vegetation in a variety of habitats with various hiking trails. Vegetation here includes meadows, oak groves, and a Monterey Pine forest. The park extends less than a mile from end to end, but it claims some 5 miles of paths that include packed dirt road, woodchip-lined path, and narrow nature trails. The northern end of the park is accessible from Mountain View Avenue just a few blocks east of Ocean Avenue and downtown Carmel. The south end of the park is across the street from the Carmel Mission on Rio Road.
Throughout the day, especially on weekends, the park is busy with locals walking dogs. The main trail would make a good route for an early morning jog, and it is a good spot for bird watching. The park has at least 20 or 30 benches, many in secluded groves of trees.
The park is said to preserve the original road between the Spanish Mission and the Spanish Presidio in Monterey. The park also includes the historic Flanders Mansion and the Lester Rowntree Native Plant Garden. The Flanders mansion was built in the 1920s and was purchased by the city of Carmel in 1972; today the house is being restored and the grounds are open to visitors.
Carmel Mission Founders Day Celebration is an annual event held in late June at the Carmel Mission courtyard. The festival is open to the public with no entrance fee, and lasts from noon until 5 pm, with a mass and barbecue dinner to follow.
The small festival features a variety of educational entertainment from the Spanish era such as Alta California dancers, acorn grinding, a blacksmith, tortilla making, traditional games, Spanish colonial horses, and a variety of BBQ foods. They also have a person dressed as and playing the part of Father Junipero Serra, the mission's founder.
During the festival the entire mission and its grounds are open to walk through, for no fee. They usually charge $4 or $5 a person to visit this fantastic historical monument.
They also have displays from numerous local museums and parks such as Monterey State Historic Park and the old Del Monte Hotel on the Naval Postgraduate School.
The Carmel Valley is a bit out of the way for visitors to Carmel-by-the-Sea, but rewarding to those that appreciated fine wines, excellent foods, and beautiful country views. The wineries are scattered along Carmel Valley Road inland before and after the Carmel Valley Village.
One winery tasting room is located on Pilot Road, just off Carmel Valley Road in the Village, has that old world feel and charm. Georis Winery is located in the mountains of the upper Carmel Valley so the tasting room is more convinient down in the Village. Georis is 28 acres of estate grown Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and is reflected in the rich bold taste of the Merlot and the elegance of the Cabernet. and don't let the movie "Sideways" stop you from enjoying a great Merlot.
The tasting room has a courtyard entrance with a tree canopy with sitting tables and tranquil gardens. The adobe tasting room has a small wine bar area but a larger old world style gift shop. Worth a stop if you enjoy a good red wine or just a relaxed time.
Downtown Carmel is full of fancy shops and galleries, shopping centers, restaurants, and some of the richest people money can buy. Along with all of this wealth and money, Carmel has an array of beautiful and picturesque alleys and courtyards that are typically a quiet reprieve from busy Ocean Avenue. Often these courtyards have fountains, statuary, beautiful flowers and other gardening, great stonework, and much more. While wandering downtown Carmel, I often search out these secluded spots for photography and relaxation.
Off Ocean Avenue, you will find a number if little alleys connecting the main thoroughfare of Ocean Ave to side streets. In these alleys there are hidden art galleries, restaurants and little shops.
The alleys are often decorated with flowering plants, sconces, and sculptures. Some will even surprise you by opening up into courtyards with fountains and tranquil seating areas.
On a warm afternoon, it's fun to just wander around Ocean Avenue and it's side streets and discover the town's hidden treasures.
The other day I was heading from Monterey to Soledad, so I looked on a map...about 45 miles and the route via Carmel Valley looked about the same as the route via Salinas on 68 and 101. Boy was I wrong...instead of taking about an hour, the drive took more than two hours along the narrow, twisty farm roads from Carmel Valley to Soledad. This area is so desolate, there are signs warning motorists that there are no gas stations for the next 41 miles. Along the drive I saw deer, turkeys, and redneck houses that were straight out of West Virginia. Nice drive, but no fun if you're in a rush to get somewhere.
Of course, the lower stretch of Carmel Valley Road between Carmel and the town of Carmel Valley is much different. Here you will find expensive mansions, golf courses, equestrian centers, wineries and wine tasting rooms, numerous shops and restaurants, and the large Garland Ranch Regional Park.
Carmel River State Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the area, but bad for swimming due to strong undertow. During most of the year, the Carmel River is blocked by the sand dunes, creating a lagoon that is favored by numerous birds such as pelicans, kingfishers, hawks, and sandpipers.
The park also includes Monastery Beach, just to the south, which is also known as San Jose Creek Beach. This beach is popular for scuba diving.
The main beach is located just south of Carmel, and the small parking area is located at Carmelo Street and Scenic Road. Monastery Beach is along Hwy 1, with free parking on the shoulder of the road. Restrooms are availble at the parking area near the main beach.