Your Big Little Lies guide to Monterey, California

The Big Little Lies storyline of murder, motherhood and abuse is super addictive but the show’s backdrop is perhaps, the most alluring character of all.

 

The quaint seaside village juxtaposed with the savage Pacific coastline represents the complex personalities and tumultuous scenes that earned the HBO ratings runaway its multiple Emmys - and you can visit these places.

Big Little Lies Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley star in HBO's Big Little Lies, set in sleepy Monterey, California. Photo: HBO

We’re so obsessed with the show and its setting, we headed to California to explore Monterey Bay in the flesh. The sleepy seaside village serves an equal amount of charm, enigma, delicious food and luxury.

Bixby Bridge Big Little Lies

The Bixby Bridge on Highway 1, Big Sur serves as an iconic fixture in the show's opening credits. Photo: Getty

Here’s your guide to the Monterey hot spots shown in Big Little Lies

See:
Bixby Bridge
OK, so you’ll have to drive 30 minutes out of Monterey down Highway One to see this classic cement structure but it’s worth it. Big Sur’s answer to the Golden Gate features in BLL’s opening credits and is guaranteed to make your Instagram pop.

Bixby Bridge sunset

Completed in 1932, the Bixby Bridge is one of the highest bridges of its kind in the world and makes for a stunning sunset snap. Photo: Getty

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Where Shailene Woodley’s Jane took her son Ziggy to see the penguins. Staring at the drifting sea tank is strangely relaxing and it’s good to know the non-profit attraction is all about conservation. There’s not a performing orca in sight but the jellyfish are just gorgeous.

Jelly fish

The jelly tank at the aquarium is a showstopper. Photo: Getty

Shailene Woodley Big Little Lies

The Big Little Lies trailer features Shailene Woodley’s Jane and her son at the famous aquarium. Photo: HBO

Old Fisherman’s Wharf
The coffee spot where Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon’s characters would meet to gossip. There’s plenty of photo opps and attractions along the old pier but if you’re feeling adventurous, hire a glass-bottom kayak and explore what lurks beneath the bay.

Reese Witherspoon Big Little Lies

You'll find the seaside cafe where Reese Witherspoon's character hangs out at Fisherman's Wharf. Photo: HBO

Historic Cannery Row
Stroll down the picturesque passage of concept stores, local artists' galleries, cafes, and seafood restaurants. Head down to the beach to meet local sunbaking seals – hot tip: you’ll smell them before you see them.

Monterey Bay wharf

The quintessential California wharf town. Photo: Getty

Do:
Refuge Spa
Make like the local tech big-wigs and treat yourself to a co-ed relaxation spa, featuring dry sauna, eucalyptus steam room, zero-gravity space and outdoor thermal pools. You will have the best night’s sleep after completing sessions of the hot and cold plunges.

Refuge spa carmel

The Refuge spa in the very fancy nearby Carmel. Photo: @carmelmagazine Instagram

Del Monte Beach
This is the strip of sand Jane runs along during her dreaded flashback scenes. Tucked away behind Del Monte Avenue, this gem is a local favourite. Follow Casa Verde Way west and up the hill for beach access and free parking.

Big Little Lies flashback scenes

Del Monte Beach is a local secret and is featured on the show during the running scenes. Photo: HBO

Cannery Row

The gorgeous beaches around Cannery Row are great for checking out local wildlife. Photo: Carly Williams/Be

Eat
Bistro Moulin
There is no shortage of good eats in Monterey but this unassuming European restaurant is one of our faves. The gnocchi in Parmesan cream sauce is a yummy choice as is the baked pasta filled with beef tenderloin, ricotta, truffle and pink vodka sauce.

Bistro Moulin Monterey

Bistro Moulin is a no-fuss choice for quality European fare. Photo: Carly Williams/Be

Boardwalk Sub Shop
The best sandwiches you’ll ever have. This gourmet East Coast-style deli is run by three brothers who pay homage to the comfort food of their youth with their California take on quality cheesesteaks, hoagies, calzones and soft pretzels.

Boardwalk Sub Shop

The best sub you'll ever have is at family-owned Boardwalk Sub Shop. photo: Carly Williams/Be

Cannery Row Brewing Company
With 70 beers on tap and hearty pub grub, we hear this spot was popular amongst BLL’s cast and crew while they filmed in Monterey in January through to May in 2016.

Stay
Portola Hotel and Spa
One of the first eco-friendly hotels in Cali, this stay is looking luxe after its $6 million renovation and is a stroll away from the BLL coastal filming locations. Breakfast in The Club Room is rather special with its made-to-order omelettes and house-made pastries. We can totally see Nicole and Reese sipping Bloody Mary’s in the chic leather booths.

Monterey Bay brunch

The Club Room at Portola Hotel & Spa boasts one of the best brunches in Monterey Bay. The new lobby's impeccable design aesthetic serves indoor forest atrium vibes, we can't get enough. Photo: Instagram

Portola Hotel & Spa Jacks

The slick new Jacks Monterey at Portola Hotel & Spa. Photo: Portola Hotel & Spa

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