Big Sur - Solvang
As I mentioned when I wrote about the incomplete Hearst Castle-Big Sur trip in July, the glimpses of the coastline on that trip only served to strengthen my resolve to visit Big Sur again for a more detailed trip. But I didn’t think that would happen so soon. We (along with 2 of our friends) visited Solvang, which is about 4 hrs south of the Bay Area, over the holiday weekend and went there via Highway 1. It turned out to be a trip where the destination as well as the ways to and from it, were wonderful.
On Highway 1, our first stop was Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the most well-known park in the Big Sur valley. The park, with a creek running through it, was very pretty but since seeing the waterfalls required a 40-60 minute stroll which we didn’t want to take, our stay there turned out to be very short. Instead we continued driving and went to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This park has a wheelchair-(and hence stroller-) accessible trail that takes us via an underpass under Highway 1, to offer wonderful views of the coast. Adding to the beauty is McWay Falls, a beautiful waterfall that falls down to the beach (the beach itself is not accessible). From there we continued driving on 1 without any more stops and so were able to hit Pismo Beach for a gorgeous sunset. We reached Solvang the same night.
We headed out to Cachuma Lake, which is about 10 miles from Solvang, the next morning. Here we spent time walking around the lake and the kids had a lot of fun feeding the ducks and looking for other birds. After lunch and a brief stop for a view of Bradbury Dam, we visited the Mission Santa Ines, a very old (it was built in 1804) church. The inside of the mission had a lot of history in the form of paintings, dresses and books from the 17th century while the garden behind was really pretty. We spent the rest of the day walking around Solvang, which is called the Danish Capital of America. It was warm enough to make us hanker for ice-cream and so, we had a fun time exploring the cute town with its European-style buildings and unique shops (one shop Del-Sol, had items like t-shirts, hairclips, hairbands, etc. that change color when hit by sunlight!). Once night fell, the city was all lit up for Christmas and looked even prettier.
We stopped at an ostrich farm the next morning before heading back north towards home. We first stopped at Morro Bay, whose landmark, the huge Morro Rock rising out of the sea, had caught our eye when we were driving to Solvang. After some debating on the route to take, we again opted to take Highway 1 from there.
This time we stopped at Limekiln State Park, which I'd read had a nice waterfall. But what we got was far beyond our expectations. The 0.5 mile-long trail to the waterfall winded through a redwood forest and the scenery was spectacular. The trail also required crossing a river at several points and while some crossings had bridges, the others had to be made by stepping on rocks, planks and not-so-stable logs of wood. With me carrying Karthik and my wife leading Kavya along, these crossings turned out to be quite adventurous! Limekiln Falls at the end was definitely nice but after the wonderful hike, it was anti-climactic. The drive on Highway 1 after that was a dream come true for a scenery-lover like me. The sun gradually setting on the horizon provided some amazing views for the whole drive and we finally stopped at 1 point to watch the final minutes of the sunset. Spectacular!
Lotsa wonderful sights, great company, perfect weather, few crowds, less traffic... trips just don't get much better than this!
Photos from the trip can be seen here.