It's hard to say what's more enticing about HBO's Big Little Lies series: the juicy drama happening, the amazing characters, or the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery in the background. The Monterey, California backdrop of Big Little Lies, which include pebbly beaches, crashing waves, gorgeous sunsets, incredible mansions, and adorable beach town shots, almost seems too perfect to be real. But this isn't a movie set or CGI: many Big Little Lies filming locations very much exist in real life, and, in fact, you can visit them whenever you want. Even without the show, these spots are interesting and beautiful enough to make for the best vacation.
Much of Big Little Lies is actually filmed in the real Monterey, California, a small city on the state's central coast that's not too far from other popular spots like San Francisco and Big Sur. There are beaches, wineries, organic restaurants, plenty of shopping, and, of course, quintessentially perfect California weather. It's a beautiful place to visit, especially if you plan on taking a road trip: Monterey County is made up of Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, and more, and you'll want to see everything. Plus, there are several highways and roads that are so picturesque that you won't even mind being in the car for hours.
If you want to plan the ultimate trip, here are Big Little Lies filming locations you can really visit. And who knows? Maybe you'll run into the cast along the way.
Bixby Creek Bridge
While on Highway 1, be sure to make a stop on the Bixby Creek Bridge — or, at least, in a spot where you can photograph it. Not only is this the stunning bridge you see in the opening credits of the show, it's also regularly seen throughout the show. (And, side note: if you're a Death Cab For Cutie fan, it's also the subject of their 2008 song "Bixby Canyon Bridge"!)
Old Fisherman's Wharf
Located in Monterey, Old Fisherman's Wharf is a sleepy area on the water that is both a little bit touristy and extremely charming. You'll recognize it as the backdrop to the restaurants and cafes the characters often go to during the show. There's plenty to do and see while you're there.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
In Season 1 of BLL, Shailene Woodley's character Jane was often seen with her son Ziggy hanging out at the Monterey Bay Aquarium — and it will be in Season 2 even more, since Jane now works there. Stop by for yourself to check it out: it's known for its beauty, sights, and conservation work, and is an extremely popular attraction in Monterey.
Paluca Trattoria Restaurant
In BLL, Madeline, Jane, and Celeste are often seen hanging out at the cozy Blues Cafe. Unfortunately, that cafe doesn't really exist, but the filming location for it does: It's called Paluca Trattoria Restaurant, and it's located at the end of Fisherman's Wharf. Go in for food and/or coffee, and pretend to be part of the show.
Del Monte In Monterey
You know all those scenic beach running shots that make you want to lace up your own sneakers and get out there? Most of them are filmed on Del Monte beach, a local spot with gorgeous views.
Lovers Point Beach
Another beach and filming spot worth visiting is Lovers Point Beach in Pacific Grove which might look familiar to you because of the scene shot there: it's where Ed and Nathan had their first big fight in Season 1.
The Carmel Highlands is an expensive community in Monterey County with gorgeous views of the ocean. In BLL, Celeste lives there, and the exterior shots of her home were shot on location in this neighborhood. You obviously won't be able to get out of your car to check out the homes, but you can drive around in awe.
Carmel River State Beach
Located near Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel River State Beach is a popular beach for birdwatching and kayaking. A lot of scenes from Season 2 were filmed here, so it's a definite must-see.
Point Pinos Lighthouse
Located in Pacific Grove, the Point Pinos Lighthouse and the walkway leading to it are featured in a few shots for the show. Nothing big, but the lighthouse is so beautiful that it's still worth the visit.
You can actually stay in the same house that is used as Madeline's house in BLL — it's a real home available for rent on Malibu Luxury Homes, and it's located on Broad Beach in Malibu (one of the only locations not in Monterey). The home is just as gorgeous in person as it is in the show.