Big Sur is California’s best kept not so secret. There is actually no town of ‘Big Sur’, though you may see the name on maps. Big Sur is the rugged stretch of California coastline between San Simeon and Carmel and is absolutely breathtaking. You can glide through roughly 85 miles of stunning scenery in a couple of hours. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Big Sur became a retreat for artists and writers. Today Big Sur attracts artists, yogis, nature-lovers, hot springers, and city slickers seeking to unplug.
WHERE TO STAY
Keep in mind, Big Sur is not a town, it’s a region. Things are quite far apart. Wherever you stay, you’re going to be far from something. Sometimes, a lot of things.
If you’d prefer a bed and a roof over your head the classic Big Sur Lodge, inside Pfeiffer State Park, is a good bet when you can get a decent rate.
Deetjens is a collection of pint-sized, wisteria-draped wood cabins, nestled among Redwood trees (it’s hard to get more romantic than that). Founded in 1930, it is one of the oldest accommodations in Big Sur. An onsite library and lack of cell service or wifi makes this place all the more heavenly.
Also, Big Sur River Inn has some of the more inexpensive cabins in town; the rooms overlook the Big Sur River.
For a little more luxe, try the Post Ranch Inn, it’s perched on a cliff high above ocean, so I mean come onnnnn.
For a place of your own, take a look at Airbnb where you can sometimes find views for a fraction of what you’ll find at a hotel.
The pics above are from Prewitt Ridge. The views are absolutely gorgeous, but this site does come with a warning. It is only reachable after an hour drive on an uneven cliff hanging dirt road. If you don’t have a truck or SUV able to charge through pot hole after pot hole, I wouldn’t recommend this site.
WHERE TO EAT
Big Sur bakery is the perfect spot for sipping your morning coffee while watching the sunrise filter through the towering Redwoods.
Deetjen’s is known for delicious organic food, quaint history, and great local wines. Reservations are required, as the cozy dining room gets busy.
McWay Falls (the feature image of this post) is the main attraction of Big Sur, so know it will be crowded.
Pfeiffer Beach is a great spot to dip your feet in the Pacific. It’s worth the $10 parking fee.
Watch for gray whales, December through April are migration months for these magical creatures.
Hike the Tanbark Trail. The six-mile trail winds through Redwood canyons and oak forests to reveal the most spectacular coastal views. Sunset from the top is stunning beyond words.
Plan ahead – Forget Google Maps, forget the apps, forget your phone entirely. Service drops off pretty much instantly and stays scarce the entire route. If you want to know what the best hikes are, where the best food is, which state parks you can skip and which ones you absolutely have to brake for, you need to find that out in advance.
Take your time – If you’re in a hurry, think about skipping Big Sur entirely and take the freeway instead. This route is for the beauty, so take it all in. If your destination is camping or staying in Big Sur, great! If you’re just driving through, keep in mind it will take awhile. Add in stops to see some pretty spectacular waterfalls and BAM, you’ve tacked on another few hours.
Whether you’re driving through or staying in Big Sur, you won’t be disappointed. The shear jaw dropping views will be well worth the extra time it takes to get there and/or drive through.