Take a "Big Little Lies" Road Trip to Monterey

Explore beautiful Monterey, California, while you wait for the second season of the HBO hit series.

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/D.M. Troutman

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/D.M. Troutman

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/D.M. Troutman

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/Randy Wilder

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/Kerrick James

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/D.M. Troutman

Photo By: SeeMonterey.com/D.M. Troutman

Photo By: SeeMonterey.Com

Photo By: Pebble Beach Company

Bixby Bridge

Beautiful people live beautiful lives in Monterey, California. What could go wrong? Plenty, as we discovered in HBO’s hit series, Big Little Lies. A second season is underway, and fans can’t wait (Meryl Streep will play Perry’s mother, and we're expecting fireworks). Until the episodes air in 2019, take a (virtual) road trip to Monterey County, and explore the characters’ hangouts.

Shown here: Bixby Bridge, which appears in the show’s opening credits. It’s actually about twenty miles south of Monterey, on Highway One in Big Sur.

Old Fisherman's Wharf

When you visit Monterey, stop for coffee or a bite at Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Paluca Trattoria, a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant, was the stand-in for the fictional cafe where Madeline met her friends in the show's first episode. This one-time commercial market is now a hot spot for tourists and a great place to feast on clam chowder or local squid. Not hungry? Book a cruise and go sailing, sightseeing or deep-sea fishing.

Carmel Beach

In the series, Celeste, played by Nicole Kidman, lives in a fabulous home in Carmel Highlands, where you’ll find some of the most expensive real estate in the U.S. The community has long attracted celebrities, artists, photographers and writers, including Ansel Adams and Sinclair Lewis. Take a short drive to Carmel-By-The-Sea to browse art galleries, shops, wine bars and tasting rooms, or hit the dog-friendly beach, where your pup can run off-leash.

Garrapata State Park

Known for its unspoiled shore, Garrapata State Park also has hiking trails and steep cliffs that lead to breathtaking views of the Pacific. It’s tempting to think the show's scenes of Garrapata's thundering waves are meant to echo the characters' inner turmoil. Lose your inner turmoil when you come to picnic or watch for sea lions, California gray whales and other wildlife. Bring your camera to capture the spring-to-summer blooms of colorful wildflowers.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Big Little Lies gives viewers a peek into the Monterey Bay Aquarium when Jane, played by actress Shailene Woodley, arrives with her son, Ziggy. (The aquarium is also where Renata, portrayed by Laura Dern, serves on the board.) This world-class aquarium houses over 35,000 creatures from some 550 species. If Ziggy had stayed longer, he could have enjoyed the daily shows, feedings and exhibits. When you go, touch a live jelly in the Open Sea wing and watch penguins dine underwater, or plan ahead for a family sleepover.

Cannery Row

The Monterery Bay Aquarium is on historic Cannery Row, once the site of numerous canning factories. Today, it's home to picturesque shops, charming hotels and restaurants, and the Cannery Row Brewing Company, where you can choose from over 70 beers on tap. While you're there, dine on fresh seafood and just-harvested produce from the nearby Salinas Valley, nicknamed the "Salad Bowl of World." No doubt the health-conscious ladies of Big Little Lies would approve of your greens-centric meal.

Lovers Point Park and Beach

Head out before dawn, and watch the sun rise over the ocean at east-facing Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove. It's where Madeline and Jane met in one episode of the series; later, Madeline’s ex-husband and husband face off in the park. Launch your kayak at Lovers Point, scuba dive through a kelp forest filled with marine life, or play a few games of volleyball on the beach court.

Del Monte Beach

When the women of Big Little Lies go for a run, they sometimes jog on the sugary sands on Del Monte Beach in Monterey State Park. In the past, the beach was relatively uncrowded, but this hidden gem may become busier as fans of the show discover it. Walk your leashed dog, swim, surf, bike or stroll along the boardwalk over the sand dunes. Later, watch the sun set and warm up around a fire pit on the beach.

Whale-Watching

The women of Big Little Lies pay more attention to one another's lives than to the local wildlife, but you shouldn’t miss whale watching while you’re in Monterey. California is one of the few places you can spot magnificent blue whales, humpbacks, gray whales, fins, minkes and other species practically year-round. Book your whale-watching expedition early. Trips often sell out.

17-Mile Drive

Many of the beach scenes in this HBO series are filmed along the 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach. This stretch of rocky coastline is considered one of the world's most scenic drives. Expect to pay a small gate fee to access it, unless you're staying at a resort that waives the charge. The drive offers lots of chances for Instagram-worthy snaps of sea lions, crashing waves and the iconic Lone Cypress, a tree clinging to a cliff high above the water.

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