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Big Sur Road Trip : Driving California's Pacific Coast Highway In 2014 Toyota Highlander

Driving along California's Pacific Coast Highway, and especially its most scenic part - Big Sur, has been on my Bucket List for a couple years !
An exhilarating driving experience, this twisting, cliff-hugging, 123-mile (198-kilometer) route along the central California coast takes about five hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Designated an All-American Road—among the nation's most scenic—the drive encompasses both the Big Sur Coast Highway and the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. ( National Geographic ).
Though I used to live in Southern California, have visited San Francisco and Sacramento, camped and hiked at Yosemite, visited Mt Shasta's Caverns, I've never been to Monterey/Carmel area before ( where Big Sur "officially begins" ).

That's why I was especially excited when Toyota invited me to test drive their stylish and luxurious 2014 Toyota Highlander in that area !

Ideally, my road trip along Big Sur would be driving a red convertible Mustang 1966 ( and hitting every major surf break along the way ! ), but cruising in a brand new Toyota Highlander Hybrid and relaxing in upscale Carmel Valley Ranch,  sounded like ( at least half of the ) dream come true.

Following National Geographic's advice, I explored Monterey : visited Royal Presidio Chapel, Monterey State Historic Park, Custom House, Casa Soberanes, took a stroll along beautiful Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, had gourmet dinner ( in the empty !!! ) Monterey Bay Aquarium surrounded by beautiful fish (!!!), and learned about Monterey Canyon.

Then I took the Highlander for a scenic drive along winding 17 mile drive, and stopped by the famous Mission San Carlos Borroméo del Río Carmelo.

Agri-tourism ( a unique experience that combines traditional agriculture with tourism ) is growing in popularity in states like Washington, Oregon, California, as well as in the Midwest. I got a taste of it touring a couple local farms, learning about produce, and tasting unique treats ( deep fried artichokes  ? with garlic sauce ?  delicious ! ).

Unfortunately with so much time spent in Monterey/Carmel, it didn't leave me enough time to go on a full size road trip along Big Sur. I reached the famous ( and much photographed ) Bixby Bridge, and decide to head back home.

Over the past few years of travel, I've realized that there are places where I want to go back. With so many things not seen/done, I'm sure Big Sur will be one of them.

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