The Ultimate "Big Little Lies" Travel Guide

For diehard fans and newcomers alike, the best-selling novel turned HBO series about the scandals and secrets of a tiny seaside community is one of the most addictive shows out there. But aside from the juicy gossip, sexy husbands and Reese Witherspoon’s all-around perfection as the token mom-you-despise-but-also-kinda-want-to-be, there’s something else that keeps us coming back for more. Sweeping Big Sur cliff views, moody Pacific Ocean scenes and gorgeous northern California coastlines are just as enchanting as the characters themselves. Here, eight Monterey Bay spots featured in your new favorite show that you can visit right now. 

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big little lies bridge
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Bixby Creek Bridge

Cue Chloe Mackenzie jamming out to the wonderful “This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes as Madeline navigates her chocolate brown Buick down Highway 1. This scenic Big Sur drive makes an appearance in almost every episode thus far, but our favorite moments include Madeline and Celeste’s introspective shots as they gaze out over the towering bridge to the endless dark gray ocean below. Chills. 

Old Fisherman’s Wharf

That little waterfront café where Celeste, Madeline and Jane always meet to grab a coffee (hey, what’s up with the cute barista?) and hatch more delightful schemes? It’s actually the Italian restaurant Paluca Trattoria, part of Old Fisherman’s Wharf. It used to be a fish market but now serves as a major tourist attraction with many seafood joints and gift shops that border Monterey Bay.

Del Monte Beach

Most of Jane’s flashback-ridden runs take place down this tucked-away beach that’s part of Monterey State Park. With its rolling sand dunes and colossal coastal-home backdrops, it’s the perfect stretch of shore for a dip in the chilly Pacific, a frenzied jog or a few horrific recollections…ya know, the usual. 

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Lovers Point Park

Situated near Point Pinos Lighthouse (the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast) at the edge of Pacific Grove, the recognizable stone wall of this seaside park is briefly visible in the background of a few scenes thus far. From Jane and Ziggy’s beach picnic to Ed and Nathan’s heated meeting over Madeline and Bonnie’s strained relationship, the watchtower looms ever vigilant over our favorite characters and the tumbling waves of the bay. 

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Monterey Bay Aquarium

We’ve briefly seen the exquisite Monterey Bay Aquarium in a scene that captures the mother-son essence of Jane and Ziggy. But with power hungry Renata Klein’s role on the aquarium’s board, we’re bound to see its reemergence in the few episodes that remain. The city aquarium is located on Cannery Row, a waterfront street that used to be home to—you guessed it—fish canneries, and was made famous by two John Steinbeck novels. Today, the public aquarium holds jellyfish, stingrays, sea otters and over 600 other marine species.

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Be careful; you might run into a seriously stressed-out Renata at this swanky waterfront hotel. Monterey Plaza is the film location in the scene when Laura Dern’s Renata confronts Madeline and Celeste about her daughter’s birthday party over a cozy fire pit. The hotel, located just a few blocks from the aquarium on Cannery Row, offers hauntingly gorgeous views of the bay and is worth a visit (even if just for the bourgeois cocktail-and-fire-pit experience).

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Garrapata State Park

What about those steep cliffs Jane so often finds herself coming to a terrifying halt during during her mind-numbing runs? The cliffs are part of the coastal hiking park that lies just south of Carmel on Highway 1. The remarkable scenery couples two miles of unpopulated beaches with rugged cliffs and coastal redwood groves, plus a 50-foot descent to its rocky shoreline below. Considering the Spanish word garrapata means ticks, we’re hoping Jane is just as handy with the bug spray as she is with that handgun…

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Colton Hall

Formerly known as Monterey’s City Hall, this historic building lends itself as the stage to a major turning point in the series. Here, Kidman, Witherspoon and Dern verbally duke it out for the sake of the arts and free speech in the ongoing controversy over the community theater’s production of Avenue Q. Built in the 1840s, the white-brick landmark is also a museum and government meeting place. 


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