Lady’s Romantic Big Sur Proposal

I have some exciting news to tell you today: my boyfriend planned a Big Sur proposal and surprised me with an engagement ring! I’ve been hoping to be able to share this with you for a while, but some things take time and this is one of them. It’s a fun story, though, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing this exciting announcement as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it down for you. Here goes…

Big Sur Proposal

Big Sur Proposal

Last month my boyfriend planned a surprise trip for our anniversary. He told me he was taking me to Big Sur, one of our favorite places on the California coast. Beyond that he wanted to keep everything a secret.

I love surprises, so I was excited to discover what he had in store for me. He’s great at planning trips, and he’s been to Big Sur more times than I have, so I knew he’d come up with a good itinerary.

Before we left, he told me to pack one nice outfit for our anniversary dinner, some hiking clothes, and a swimsuit. Other than that, I was in the dark as to our plans. And big plans they were. I had no idea how big.

Big Sur Coast

Castroville

We left San Francisco in the late morning to avoid traffic. It took just under 2 hours to get to Castroville, where we stopped for lunch. This historic town in Monterey County is known for artichokes, and we were excited to try some.

We ate at a famous local place called Phil’s Fish Market, which is set in a 19th-century schoolhouse right next to the iconic Castroville sign. Both the seafood and the artichokes went down a treat.

Point Lobos

From Castroville it was a 25-minute drive to Point Lobos. Called “the crown jewel” of the 280 California state parks, this natural reserve is known for hiking trails, coastal scenery, and marine life.

Point Lobos

We followed the Lace Lichen Trail through a woodland area to get to the Pacific Ocean. The rugged coastline featured sandy coves and barking sea lions, and it all felt quintessentially Californian.

Big Sur

From Point Lobos we drove south through the Carmel Highlands to get to Big Sur. We stopped to climb the stairs up a hill on Soberanes Pont and take in the iconic coastal scenery before moving on.

We continued along Highway 1 to get to our accommodation in Big Sur. My boyfriend surprised me with a night at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, which is famous for its historic wooden cabins nestled among the redwoods.

Big Sur Cabin

We stayed in the Castro Cabin, a cozy wooden structure right next to a waterfall. It was straight out of a fairy tale, and it was perfect for our stay.

Dinner at Post Ranch Inn

We settled into our cabin and explored the grounds, then headed out for a surprise anniversary dinner at Post Ranch Inn. This is one of the most famous hotels in Big Sur, and its hillside restaurant offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

We were seated at an amazing corner table, and we ordered creative cocktails and California caviar as the sun painted the clouds pink.

Caviar

At this point I started to wonder if my boyfriend had a special surprise in store for me beyond just an anniversary dinner.

Over the next two hours, we enjoyed a multi-course tasting menu as we watched a beautiful sunset on the Pacific Ocean.

There was no big surprise at the end, but there were still a couple more days of the trip left. Little did I know how many surprises those days had in store for me.

Hike in Big Sur

The following morning our trip continued with breakfast at Deetjen’s and a fun day of activities, meals, beaches, and an unexpected encounter.

Big Sur River

After finishing breakfast, we drove a short distance north to get to a small parking area and unmarked trailhead across the highway from Big Sur Lodge.

We set off on a hike on the Buzzard’s Roost Trail. This moderate 2.8-mile path in the hills above the coast offers dramatic redwood trees and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean at the top.

Once on the lollipop-shaped trail, we walked along the Big Sur river and ascended a path lined with towering trees. It took us under an hour to reach the summit, and we were rewarded with spectacular views of the coast.

Big Sur Ocean View

Lunch at Fernwood Resort

When we finished the hike, we hopped in the car and headed north to Fernwood Resort for lunch. Established in 1932, this place has everything from cabins to a campground, bar, general store, and live music.

Fernwood also has a restaurant with a sunny terrace out back. We met my boyfriend’s coworker and her family there, and tucked into salads and pizzas as the deck filled up with people.

Big Sur River Inn

After lunch my boyfriend drove me north to Big Sur River Inn. The area’s first hotel and restaurant, this place has been a gathering point for locals and visitors for years.

Big Sur Adirondacks

Big Sur River Inn is famous for having Adirondack chairs right in the water. We ordered drinks at the bar and carried them out over the terrace and down to the big wooden seats.

Big Sur Engagement

After finishing our drinks, my boyfriend told me it would be a good idea to change into some nicer clothes before we went for a picnic on the beach. That’s when I started to get suspicious.

I’ve never heard of anyone wearing nice clothing for a picnic on a windy stretch of coastline in California. Did he have a surprise in store?

Bixby Bridge

After changing, we got back in the car and drove north to Garrapata Beach. On the way we stopped to take pictures of Bixby Bridge, one of the most photographed bridges in California. Completed in 1932, it’s one of the highest of its kind in the world.

Soon we arrived at Garrapata Beach, a beautiful (if windy) stretch of sand with headlands, coastal paths, and views across the Pacific Ocean.

We pulled off the road and parked by Calla Lily Valley, an area known for wildflowers that bloom in late winter or early spring.

When we arrived, we were met by a photographer and my boyfriend surprised me with a photo shoot for our anniversary. But it wasn’t the only surprise.

Garrapata Beach

The photographer took us out onto the bluffs overlooking Garrapata Beach and started taking pictures. In the middle of the shoot, my boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed to me. I couldn’t quite believe it. I was overjoyed.

Naturally, I said yes. But the surprises didn’t end there. In fact, there was an even bigger surprise waiting for us at our next stop.

Carmel Valley

It was a 25-minute drive from where we left Big Sur to get to Bernardus Lodge & Spa, a hotel in the heart of Carmel Valley.

Carmel Valley Hotel

The suite we stayed in was amazing. It had high ceilings, a four-poster bed, a spacious living room, and an outdoor terrace with a fire pit looking out onto grape vines and ridge lines.

Dinner

We settled in quickly, then headed to dinner at the Bernardus restaurant, Lucia. That’s when the next surprise came.

When we got to the bar, I looked to my right and did a double take. A huge table of family and friends was waiting to greet us.

Carmel Valley Bar

I was delighted and surprised in equal measure. Never had I expected there would be a bigger surprise than the proposal itself.

It turned out my fiance had been working behind-the-scenes for months to coordinate this part of the trip. I felt so loved when I saw that so many people had come from so far to celebrate with us. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better way to kick off our engagement than with them.

We all enjoyed a glass of champagne while they filled me in on how they planned it and when they arrived.

Carmel Valley Restaurant

Afterwards we headed downstairs into the wine cellar for a private dinner. It was a beautiful space, a wonderful end to one of the most memorable days of my life.

Bernardus

The next morning we had breakfast before spending a relaxing day at Bernardus. Some people in our group played tennis and bocce ball, others swam in the pool and hot tub, and still more got spa treatments or drive into Carmel-by-the-Sea or Monterey.

Two more of our friends came down from the Bay Area to spend the weekend with us, too. It was so special to have them join us.

Carmel Valley Hotel Pool

Carmel-by-the-Sea

In the evening we all met for a drink at the bar before heading to dinner in Carmel-by-the-Sea. My fiance had booked a table at a steakhouse called Seventh & Dolores, and we enjoyed everything from French onion soup to filet mignon.

Afterwards we walked down the street to a gastropub called Mulligan. We had drinks in the rustic bar and spent the evening catching up.

Spa

The next morning we said good-bye to my fiance’s family and our friends before heading to the spa at Bernardus.

Carmel Valley Spa

My fiance’s mother had generously booked us in for massages. We followed the treatments with stints in the eucalyptus steam room, sauna, and outdoor warming pool. It was pure bliss.

Carmel

Afterwards we checked out of Bernardus and drove into Carmel Valley Village for a quick look around. With rustic tasting rooms, art galleries, and restaurants lining the streets, it was a welcoming spot to explore.

From the village we headed to Carmel-by-the-Sea. This famous coastal town is known for its chocolate-box streets, independent boutiques, courtyards, and British feel.

Carmel by the Sea

We spent an hour shopping, wandering down passageways, and photographing all the thatched-roof shopfronts we came across.

Monterey

Back in the car, we had one last stop before we headed north to San Francisco: Monterey. We ate lunch there at a local Mexican place called La Bahia. It offers an extensive menu full of everything from quesadillas to tacos and burritos.

Lunch satisfied our appetites, and we stopped on Cannery Row in Monterey afterwards. The waterfront restaurants were buzzing, and the shops and cafes leading to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium were busy with visitors.

Monterey Canning Co

Big Sur Proposal

We checked out the scene, then started the journey back to San Francisco. As we left Monterey County, I couldn’t help but think about how many amazing surprises I’d experienced in the four days we were there. Never did I expect our anniversary weekend would be so much more than just that.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my story, and I can’t wait to keep you updated as we start planning our wedding. Stay tuned!

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Big Sur Proposal

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