See View - Asilomar State Beach, Carmel & Monterey, California

Asilomar State Beach

During low tide, the Asilomar State Beach is home to one of the richest tide pool habitats in the world. Kids will love ambling over the rocks and exploring the diverse range of sea life.

Big Sur Helicopter Tour

There is no better way to admire the jaw-dropping beauty of the California coast than on a helicopter or airplane tour. Specialized Aviation offers tours from Watsonville and Monterey Airports from between $99 to $525 per person, depending on the size of your group and mode of transport.
Outside Hill View - Bixby Bridge , Carmel & Monterey, California

Bixby Bridge

En route from Carmel to Big Sur, State Route 1 goes over this iconic open-arch bridge. you drive over the iconic and oft-pictured Bixby Bridge. Stop prior to crossing the bridge to enjoy the view and snap a few photos on the west side of Highway One.

Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea

With the Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea passport, you can visit any nine of the 14 tasting rooms along Ocean Avenue in Carmel. The passport does not expire, so it may be fun to buy a pass at the beginning of your trip and try out a few tasting rooms throughout your stay. Indagare can assist with purchasing a passport.

looking up hill towards spanish-italianate villa with palm trees

Hearst Castle

One of the largest and most extravagant private residences ever built in the U.S., Hearst Castle as it is now called was the monumental pleasure palace built by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst on his family’s massive cattle ranch. He began the project in 1919 when he was 56 years old, and with architect Julia Morgan worked on Casa Encantada, as they called it, for 28 years. The vast property, which is still surrounded by the Hearst cattle ranch (Hearst steak can be bought in the visitor’s center), once housed the largest private zoo in the world, and when Walt Disney, Clark Gable and Bing Crosby came to visit, they would pass zebra, giraffe, even polar bears on the grounds.

With 165 rooms (38 bedrooms, 42 baths and 14 living rooms), it would take hours to tour the entire residence. Visitors today can choose from five different tours of the estate, ranging from a self-guided tour of the gardens and ground and a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute tour, which includes some of the famous pools, one guest house and some of the first-floor rooms, such as the living room, dining room and movie theater, to a four-hour private tour for a small group. All tours should be reserved in advance online. You will need to park in a visitor’s parking lot and ride a shuttle bus up to the castle. The guides are full of colorful stories about Hearst and the house so the time goes very quickly and will likely leave you wishing to see more. If you would like to wander the grounds of the castle after your tour, you may do so, and many repeat visitors choose their tour times to allow for wandering in the gardens. For those who dream of spending the night or swimming in the glorious pools, there are two options: you will need an invitation from one of the Hearst descendants, who still have special access to the property (it was donated to the state of California after William Randolph Hearst’s death) or if an overnight at the Castle is auctioned off for charity, as sometimes happens, you will need to win it. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online.

Indagare Tip

If you are driving from Carmel down Highway 1, the drive may take you close to three hours on the winding road where many stop at turnouts to marvel at the spectacular coastal views. On a sunny day a nice spot for lunch along the way (for the setting not the food, which is basic diner fare) is Lucia Lodge.

Good to Know

At many times of the year, the beach just up from the Hearst Castle will be packed with sunbathing elephant seals. They can be aggressive, so you won’t want to venture on to the sand with them, but there are viewing platforms and they provide quite a show.
Editors' Picks
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Indagare Access: Specialized Hiking

With multiple state parks in the area, Big Sur offers incredible trails, lookouts, wildlife viewing and picnic spots. Options can include wildlife spotting, photography, food foraging or surf lessons along the way.
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Indagare Access: Tee Times

Our team can provide suggestions for the top golf courses in the Big Sur area, and while we cannot promise a last-minute option, we will always try to arrange the best tee times for you.
Aerial View - Monterey Bay Aquarium,Carmel & Monterey, California

 -Courtesy Randy Wilder

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Founded in 1984 on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the world’s most progressive aquariums. Its Kelp Forest exhibit is one of the tallest tanks in the world and was the first place to grow sea kelp, thanks to a specially designed surge machine that mimics the ocean movement that kelp needs to survive. (David Packard of Hewlett-Packard was the initial financer of the aquarium and helped design the machine in the Kelp Forest. His daughter Julia Packard is a marine biologist and currently serves as the executive director of the aquarium.)

As you walk around the tank, you will spy sardines, leopard sharks and eel-wolfs. Another showstopper exhibit is the Open Sea, where a 90-foot window offers views of tunas, hammerhead sharks, sea turtles and sardines. In other tanks throughout the two-story complex are sea otters, puffins, flamingoes, stingrays and incredible varieties of jelly-fish and seahorse (15 different species). There are also interactive games and exhibits, such as the splash zone where you can handle sea life and learn about tides and the physics of waves.

To get the most out of a visit to the aquarium, it’s best to book one of the special Aquarium Activities online. Offerings range from a behind-the-scenes tour where a staff member will take you into the research areas and the Feeding Frenzy tour, during which you go on the morning rounds with a guide and have a private feeding and training of the sea otters to the sleepover experience and Underwater Explorers, a surface scuba dive for kids aged 8 to 13 in a tidal pool.

Indagare Tip

Go early in the day and during the week if possible to avoid the weekend crowds. Buy your tickets online to skip the purchase line and organize your visit around feeding times, which are posted online.

Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail

Walking distance from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a nice alternative to the touristy Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail runs parallel to the coast and follows the same route as the old Southern Pacific Railway. The paved path is easy for children to navigate and offers the chance to see sea lions lolling off the shore. Rent a bike at Bay Bikes (585 Cannery Row, Monterey; 831-655-2453;, located four blocks from the aquarium.

Sea View - Point Lobos State Natural Reserve , Carmel & Monterey, California - Courtesy Brocken Inaglory

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

This impressive reserve has been called “the crown jewel of the state park system” and offers incredible hiking on forested trails as well as breathtaking views of the Pacific. Indagare can arrange for a private hiking guide, or you can get a map at the Big Sur Information Center and go out on your own.

Ventana Falconry Experience

The Falconry Experience at Ventana Big Sur brings guests up close to peregrine falcons, which were also saved from endangerment, as well as barn owls and falcons.

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Indagare employees walking up stiars

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