California Dreaming in Big Sur

Previous Cost: $2,538
Next Trips: TBD

Trip Rating: Energetic Maximum Daily mileage: 4-8
Terrain: Gently rolling with some steeper areas
Elevation gains: Up to 500 feet

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California Dreaming...

  • Explore where ancient redwoods and the Santa Lucia mountains kiss the Pacific Ocean.
  • Hike along the Pacific’s sea caves, crashing waves, sea stacks, hidden coves, tidal pools,waterfalls, and sandy beaches.
  • Spot playful sea otters, seals , sea lions, and tide-pool critters.
  • Horseback ride on a pristine Pacific beach.
  • Visit a grand-daddy lighthouse, acclaimed Carmel mission, and historic Cannery Row.
  • Thrill at the scenery as we drive legendary Highway 1
  • Sip area wines and dine at restaurants with food as wonderful as the ambience.
Explore the the earth’s
"most beautiful meeting of land and sea."
Enjoy a "tribe" of women who love the outdoors.
Meet the fun little critters that call Big Sur home.
Day 1

Fly into the Monterey, CA, airport, and let us drive you across town to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Nestled along the Pacific, our luxury hotel gives you outstanding ocean and harbor views throughout...as you relax on your private balcony, soak in the rooftop hot tub, cozy-up next to the outdoor fireplace, and more.

After settling into your room, enjoy some of Monterey’s many free-time activities. We’ll enjoy an early dinner at yummy Fish Hopper, on famous Cannery Row. Then, fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves and dream of the week ahead.

Day 2

Get "wowed" by the sights at Point Lobos, considered the crown jewel of CA’s parks. Robert Louis Stevenson used this headland as his Treasure Island, setting, describing it as "the most beautiful meeting of land and sea on earth." We agree!

Our 5-mile hike along Point Lobos’ rugged coastline gives us glimpses of sea lions, seals and otters as it winds through the world’s most superb natural stand of Monterey cypress; by sea caves and white-sand beaches; and past spring wildflowers and tidal pools. After our hike, choose from these on-hour options:

  • Tour the Carmel Mission: California’s 21 Spanish missions, built from 1769 to 1833, birthed the region’s European settlements. Learn stories behind Carmel’s historic mission, considered one of the state’s most beautiful. Now a basilica, you’ll admire its golden bell towers, fountains, courtyards, and poignant cemetery, as well as the burial place, library, and living quarters of its founder, Father Serra.
  • Explore Carmel By The Sea: Visit Carmel’s unique shops o walk its enchanting neighborhoods, where homes wear names, rather than street numbers.
    Savor dinner at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch, where sheep graze the meadows near an ocean bay, the Santa Lucia mountains rise nearby.
Learn of the stories, ghosts and
history of Point Sur Lighthouse.
Day 3

We’ll head south on iconic Hwy. 1 and photograph famous Bixby Bridge. Then, enjoy a private tour of Point Sur Lighthouse , where light keepers kept vigil from 1889-1974. This stone lighthouse still guides ships today, a silent sentinel to a bygone era. Tour the light station and learn of its history, its families, and its ghosts. While atop the 361-foot bluff, savor incredible views...watch for gray whales hugging the shoreline as they escort their calves northward for the summer...listen to sea lions barking far below... enjoy vibrant spring wildflowers.

After our tour, explore Garrapata State Park. We’ll overlook coves, sea caves, hidden beaches, rocky points, sea stacks, and sea otters on the 1-mile Soberanes Coastal Bluff Trail. Then, head back to the hotel for free time...OR hike 3 miles through Soberanes Canyon, crisscrossing a creek flowing through magnificent redwoods. The trail also takes us through chaparral-covered hillsides and fields of cacti...with the sparkling blue Pacific as a backdrop.

Admire McWay Falls as it cascades into a turquoise ocean cove.
Follow Highway 1 as it winds along Big Sur’s incomparable coastline.
Day 4

Driving to our Wednesday hikes is part of the fun as we travel famous Highway 1 atop jagged cliffs and along rocky beaches, through redwood forest, and over historic bridges. At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park , trek 4 unforgettable miles on the Ewsoldson trail, a quintessential Big Sur hike through towering coastal redwoods (the world’s tallest living things), over a gurgling creek, and up to sweeping coastal views. Next, hike 1.7 miles on the McWay Falls trail for stunning views of the jagged coast, turquoise waters, and an 80-foot waterfall spewing from a canyon to a beach below. Time allowing, we’ll visit magical Pfeiffer Beach, made famous in the movie Sandpipers. Here, the sea blasts through blowholes and caves, crashes around sea stacks once part of its rocky cliffs, and rolls onto beaches flecked with purple sand.

We’ll dine in the heart of Big Sur at Nepenthe, known for its exquisite views,ambience, and food.


"It is such a gift to have someone else responsible for all the organizing, planning, and scheduling. It affords me the opportunity to breathe." ~Serenity Seeker

Kayak with harbor seals, sea lions,
sea otters, and tidepool critters.
Horseback ride along a secluded ocean beach.
Day 5

You’ll love our guided kayak trip in the protected ocean harbor near our hotel. Hold sea stars and sea urchins, smile as seals cavort near our boats, spy mama sea otters holding babies on their tummies, and watch sea lions show off. You can paddle solo or tandem.

Climb aboard a pontoon boat to explore the Pacific backwaters at Elkhorn Slough, named one of "10 Great Places in America to See Wildlife" by USA Weekend magazine. With the help of our naturalist guide, spot and photograph playful sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and dozens of bird species.

After the slough safari and lunch, you can head back to the hotel for free time OR horseback ride along the ocean. Enjoy an unforgettable hour of walking and trotting along a secluded ocean beach. Later, dine at a restaurant of your choice or join the leaders at Abalonette’s on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Oooh and aaah at tide pool treasures and ...
...cute seal pups, usually born in April.

"I loved everything on this trip...from Point Lobos to banana slugs! When I see these things for the first time, it’s like I’VE discovered them. Those memories will be with me always! The bonus was sharing this with wonderful women." ~Little Bit

Hike among grand-daddy redwoods!
Day 6

We love Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where we’ll hike 5 miles through 4,600 acres of pristine wilderness. You’ll be treated to 1,800-year-old redwoods; oak, pine and sycamore forests; stream-fed canyons; open meadows; chaparral ridges; and the San Lorenzo River. We’ll enjoy lunch with views of Monterey Bay and the surrounding mountains.

Enjoy a last dinner together at our hotel, overlooking the ocean.

Day 7

We’ll drive you to Monterey’s airport for your flight home, filled with unforgettable memories, warm friendships, renewed confidence, and great stories.

So many ways to spend free time here! Enjoy spa treatments at our hotel...visit world-renown Monterey Bay Aquarium?bike or walk the ocean-side rec path near our hotel (our hotel offers free bike loans)...shop at nearby Cannery Row or Fisherman’s Wharf...watch seals at the "pullout" point near our hotel. In fact, there’s so much to do, some women choose to spend an extra day here. The hotel offers free shuttle service within Monterey.

Soothe your muscles and mind in the hotel’s rooftop hot tub.
Call this home for one magnificent week.

The trip cost includes:

  • 6 nights, double-occupancy**, at Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. This luxury hotel treats you to:
    - Panoramic views of the ocean and harbor from your room and private balcony
    - Rooftop hot tubs, spa, workout room, outdoor fireplace nooks, bike loans, and onsite restaurant and cafe
    - Easy access to the ocean-side rec trail, aquarium, FIsherman’s Wharf, and Cannery Row shops and eateries.
  • Great hikes and explorations led by experienced, friendly guides
  • A naturalist-led safari on Elkhorn Slough and a private guided tour of Point Sur Lighthouse
  • Private tour of Point Sur Lighthouse.
  • Transportation throughout the week, including shuttles to and from Monterey’s airport
  • Park fees and permits
  • Advance booklet packed with trip info, maps, and free-time suggestions
  • Amazing memories, terrific stories, and great friendships.

"For me, this trip was about changing things up and breaking from the routine...and this trip did not disappoint. I also enjoyed the opportunity to be in the company of some lovely ladies." ~Caroline


  • "I accomplished something I never imagined doing. I’m proud of myself!" ~ Skeeter
  • "These trips give me time to reflect?and make me feel alive to the possibilities of life." ~Trooper
  • "Our trip reinforced that age is not just a number, but a state of mind. I felt more youthful after this trip than I have in years." ~Peace Seeker
  • "Our recent Trailbound adventure was my first trip with a group of women. The camaraderie made the experience really special. It’s fun to travel with women who love the great outdoors as much as I do. They were more interested in being actively immersed in the grandeur of nature than shopping?what a welcome change!" ~Jeanne