The highly anticipated second season of Big Little Lies premiered on HBO this past Sunday, and it's already made a few things very clear. One, this season will be just as good-if not better-than the last. And two, the five ladies' (and Meryl Streep's!) enviably rich lifestyles in Monterey County are still one of the reasons why BLL is such a delightful guilty pleasure.
While certain characters' homes are actually in Southern California (only the seaside mansion of Celeste, played by Nicole Kidman, is located in Carmel) and several scenes were filmed on sound stages in Los Angeles, it's really more the perception of this kind of life-the panoramic views, waves crashing against giant rocks, red wine by the fireplace, foggy mornings by the pier, the Bixby Creek Bridge-that truly matters, doesn't it?
Plus, the ladies do spend time bonding and conspiring around the towns and hamlets of California's central coast, too, both on-screen and off. (Case in point: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, and Shailene Woodley went bowling at Monterey Lanes during a break in filming last summer.)
We've curated the Big Little Lies-themed guide to Monterey, with actual filming locations (yes, you can walk on the same ground Streep walked on) and places where the stars hung out when the cameras stopped rolling that will all make you feel like you're a part of the Monterey Five's charmed world-without the drama. And who knows: you might get lucky and stumble upon a film set for season 3 (we can dream).
Bixby Creek Bridge
It's quite possibly the most famous landmark in Big Sur and on this stretch of Highway 1. Now, it's also one of the most iconic parts of the show, too. That the ladies are constantly driving across the bridge to get to their destinations (school pick-up, drop-off, to their favorite cafe, etc) is a little bit of a Hollywood stretch, though: the bridge is located about 30 minutes south of Monterey and the "hub" of the ladies' lives. Even still, try driving across this bridge without the Big Little Lies theme song playing in your head.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jane and her son Ziggy spent quality time at the aquarium in season 1, and it will also feature heavily in season 2, too, since Jane now works there. The aquarium is one of the area's most famous landmarks. It receives two million visitors a year and has received awards for its architecture, conservation efforts, educational programs, and marine exhibits. It's a BLL draw off-camera, too: Reese Witherspoon brought her son Tennessee for a visit last summer.
Lovers Point (and the Blissful Drop Cafe)
Both the park and the beach figured prominently last season as a setting for showdowns (between Madeline's current husband Ed and her ex-husband Nathan), heart-to-hearts (between Jane and Ziggy), and revelations (when Jane tells Celeste her son was the one bullying Renata's daughter). It returns as a pretty backdrop this season, too, most notably as the place where the Monterey Five's new al fresco coffee spot, the Blissful Drip Cafe, is located. The show's creators built the set on location and actually served coffee-they then donated the set to the town when filming wrapped.
Del Monte Beach
Wondering where Jane gets in all those running sessions? It's here.
The ladies famously hung out at the Blue Blues Cafe on Fisherman's Wharf for coffee and gossip sessions after school drop-offs. The cafe is fictional, but the location is real. Background shots were filmed at Paluca Trattoria, while scenes with the actresses took place in front of a green screen. Nevertheless, the Italian restaurant welcomed so many visiting fans in search of coffee like looking for a cup of coffee like Madeline, Celeste, and Jane that owner Sal Tedesco had to invest in a bigger espresso machine.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
This month, the iconic golf course celebrates its 100th anniversary and will welcome the pros for its sixth U.S. Open Championship from June 10-16. While the ladies of Big Little Lies aren't golfers (that we know of), offscreen, Witherspoon is said to have hit the links, for a round. She was also spotted having lunch at the Bench at the Lodge at Pebble Beach-with its stunning views overlooking the 18th hole and Carmel Bay-with mom Betty and Laura Dern.
Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
While it hasn't made any official appearances in BLL, the actresses were frequently spotted taking breaks and lunching at this organic cafe. Located a stone's throw from the aquarium, the farm-to-table restaurant highlights ingredients from local farmers (owners Todd and Jordan Champagne used to be farmers, first in Norway and then in California) and also sells homemade jams and pickles. Witherspoon was a fan of their lavender lemonade. (And don't miss Passionfish, a seafood restaurant about a mile away that was a favorite of Kidman's.)
Big Little Lies airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO. Stream It Here
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