A Road Trip to Big Sur, Monterey and Santa Cruz

By Derek Topper

As graduation approaches, I made a concerted effort to check out areas around the California coast. Recently, I went to Big Sur, Monterey and Santa Cruz on a road trip through the central coast of California for a long weekend.

Big Sur

I started the road trip in Big Sur. I was amazed with the natural beauty of the dunes by the water combined with the lush forrest. One highlight was seeing the Bixby Bridge.

Big Sur is a small town with various hiking trails, secluded beaches and other spots of natural beauty.

In addition to hiking trails and the beach, there was a natural hot springs. I visited the Esalen Institute, which was a resort with a wonderful hot spring that was only open from 1 am to 3 am for the general public, otherwise if you stay there, you have access all day. There was a sulfur hot springs.

It was a perfect conclusion to the full day of activities.


I spent another day of the road trip in the Monterey and Carmel area. These are two towns on the water. In Carmel, there was lots of upscale shopping. They also had a beautiful public beach. Monterey’s main attraction was the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was located on the downtown area known as Cannery Row.

The aquarium was the largest I’ve ever been in. There were all different types of aquatic life including: African penguins, jelly fish, sharks, stingrays and various other sea animals. You could spend the day there.

Jelly Fish at the Aquarium

Then, as part of the road trip, I went to the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament. It was a true highlight because I had heard so much about Pebble Beach, a world-wide golf course. It was amazing to walk around the grounds and see some of the world’s best golfers. I went during the 2019 AT&T Pro-Am.

There were so many celebrities playing in the tournament including: Bill Murray, Condoleeza Rice, Huey Lewis and other famous people.

Santa Cruz:

On the road trip, I found Santa Cruz interesting. They had a nice boardwalk with an amusement park on the beach. The Giant Dipper, rollercoaster, was a blast! It was one of the better wooden rollercoaster, I had been on and was one of the better attractions in the area. Other attractions included: a mini golf course, carousel, log flume and other types of rides and attractions.

Being right on the beach, it was near Natural Bridges State Park. This is a popular beach with interesting rock formations.

I ended my road trip at the Penny Ice Creamery, where they served local artisan Ice Cream with flavors changing every season. If they have their Marshmallow fluff, which is toasted marshmallow on top of the Ice Cream, I highly recommend it.

If you ever get the chance to a chance to visit this area of the country, do it. You won’t be disappointed. It was truly an awesome experience.

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