Driving up the California coast was one of my favourite experiences last year. We set off from Santa Monica at 6am and drove along the scenic, winding Highway One until we reached Big Sur, stopping off along the way to breathe in the ocean air, take photos and watch basking seals on the beach, waves crashing against the craggy rocks and the changing coastline become more wild the further north we went.
We visited the stunning McWay Falls waterfall, stopped at the famous reinforced concrete Bixby Bridge, hiked amongst the ancient tall redwood trees around the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, peered into rock pools, spotted isolated Monterey cypress trees, toasted the beautiful sunset with a glass of Sonoma chardonnay at the cliffside Nepenthe, watched the dramatic fog roll in and went for the nine course tasting menu for dinner at the Post Ranch Inn before heading back to our cosy wood cabin at Glen Oaks to light up a fire with some blankets and a bottle of wine.
Big Sur has always held a mystical appeal for me, imagining Hollywood stars in the 50s retreating to the woods for peace and quiet, writers like Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson holed up in log cabins writing into the night, the free-spirited hippie scene in the 60s and the independent, outdoorsy spirit nowadays. It's the perfect antidote to the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles and San Francisco only a few hours away; if I lived in LA, I'd head up to Big Sur for the ocean views, mountain walks and laidback vibe as often as possible. It's a magical place.