On our second day we got up early, got some tea and coconut milk mochas to go and headed down south towards Big Sur. We made it to Santa Cruz in little over 2 hours (thank goodness for carpool lanes!), but were there actually so early that the amusement park was not even open yet. We enjoyed breakfast on the boardwalk and got back on the road right after. It was going to take another 90 minutes to get on the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur.
We also stopped at a gorgeous little village along the way called Carmel-by-the-Sea and had light lunch of veggie paninis at Carmel Coffee and Cocoa Bar located in the prettiest open-air shopping center I've ever been to, The Carmel Plaza. Carmel is filled with cute little storefronts, historic buildings and storybook cottages, and there's flowers and trees everywhere. Just adorable.
When leaving Carmel we took the famous 17-mile Scenic Drive (despite the $10 toll you need to pay to drive through it). But yeah, way better than being on the highway. Too bad we were on a pretty tight schedule to make it home before the dark, but we had some moments to stop by the beaches and admire the scenery.