Big Sur Travel Guide

  • waterfall at Julia Pheiffer State Park
    waterfall at Julia Pheiffer State Park
    by swimmergirl1
  • you can almost smell it now, can't you?
    you can almost smell it now, can't you?
    by richiecdisc
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park cove
    Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park cove
    by sue_stone

Big Sur Highlights

  • Pro
    Callavetta profile photo

    Callavetta says…

     One of the most beautiful routes in the US 

  • Con
    Callavetta profile photo

    Callavetta says…

     Twisty, curvy, falling rocks and sharp cliffs. Not for the timid. 

  • In a nutshell
    SteveOSF profile photo

    SteveOSF says…

     A pleasant stop along scenic Highway One. 

Big Sur Things to Do

  • McWay Falls

    The highlight of the state park is McWay falls. To enter and park there is a self pay honor system of $10.00. As I heard many people say while walking around this is a huge waste of money because there is parking all along the road for free and it is closer to the falls. There is camping in the area and several trails to hike other than the one to...

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  • State Parks

    Point Lobos is a great place to go to watch the migration of the Pacific Grey Whale. These marine mammals make the longest of all whale migrations, often traveling up to 14,000 miles to the lagoons of Baja California, where they will bear their calves. The caves are born without blubber so it's essential that the mama's get south before giving...

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  • Beaches

    Walking along the bluffs is a great way to enjoy Big Sur and perhaps you find no better views but taking the extra time to get down onto a secluded beach is another fine reward. The paths down are generally steep so be prepared for a bit of a workout to get back to your car but there's nothing quite like hearing the roaring crash of waves on an...

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Big Sur Hotels

See all 15 Hotels in Big Sur

Big Sur Restaurants

  • Nepenthe

    Located in a beautiful place, the isolated restaurant of Nepenthe is a funny idea. Everybody seats side by side, facing the cliffs and the ocean, and lunch will be taken breathing the pure air, and with the sensation of freedom given by the wide sights. The food is good, respecting the american quantities and the style for "not so fast" food, but...

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  • Brilliant Idea

    Located in a beautiful place, the isolated restaurant of Nepenthe is a funny idea. Everybody seats side by side, facing the cliffs and the ocean, and lunch will be taken breathing the pure air, and with the sensation of freedom given by the wide sights.The food is good, respecting the american quantities and the style for "not so fast" food, but...

    more
  • Fast and inexpensive

    We were looking for something fast and easy so we can continue to drive up route 1 and came across River Inn. There is a restaurant but we checked out the general store and it turns out there is a grill in the back serving sandwiches and hot meals. There are some tables out front with umbrellas for shade.Real easy, just a few chili dogs and chips....

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Big Sur Nightlife

  • why go out?

    You would be surprised at how few places there are to go out in the evening along Big Sur. Don't get me wrong, there are places in the towns but along the actual coastal drive, it's not what you would expect. That said, there are some very renowned and cool places like Nepenthe which we stopped in for a peek. The views from there were great but...

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  • Moonrise at Nepenthe

    watch a moonrise at Nepenthe in Big Sur... with a glass of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot...you won't be disappointed you have to be dressed

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  • Nightlife? What nightlife? ...

    Nightlife? What nightlife? O.K., I'm sure you get my point.... :-)) Pic Below: Here's a postcard of Big Sur at sun down....

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Big Sur Transportation

  • By Car

    If you have a few days to spare for a vacation and coming from the San Francisco bay Area, A Visit to Big Sur is a must since this is where you will pass after going on a Jaunt in Monterey, Carmel by The Sea, pacific grove, pebble beach, 17 mile drive then to Big Sur! then off to San Simeon and Hearst Castle then Paso Robles, Santa Barbara,...

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  • Information / Sources

    Following the Scenic Route nr. 1 one has to make many stops at intresting places. It starts already in Santa Barbara and goes on with almost every town that one passes. Jumping out are Morro Bay (strange rockformation just out of the coast) and San Simeon (Hearst Castle)..

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  • Drive From The Bay Area to Big Sur

    If you have a few days to spare for a vacation and coming from the San Francisco bay Area, A Visit to Big Sur is a must since this is where you will pass after going on a Jaunt in Monterey, Carmel by The Sea, pacific grove, pebble beach, 17 mile drive then to Big Sur! then off to San Simeon and Hearst Castle then Paso Robles, Santa Barbara,...

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Big Sur Shopping

  • From Art to Baby Socks

    Several shops catering to tourists are located along Highway One. In addition to the usual tourist trinkets, you will find some nice artwork and a few items left over from the era when the town was infiltrated by hippies, such as tie-dye baby socks. A general store offers more practical groceries and outdoor goods.

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  • Zen Shopping in Big Sur

    Spirit Gardens, right off Highway 101, has some absolutly wonderful arts and crafts with a hinduism, very spiritual theme to them. The vibe is very peaceful and casual. Stroll a garden path and check out all the wonderful crafts, all situalted outside in a wonderful plant life setting. There is also a outdoor stage for plays, poetry readings, folk...

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  • Nothing like it

    Thsi shop has it all....you need a week to check it all out!! Clothing boutique, bookstore, crafts, art, furnishings...the most unique store on the planet A Kaffe Fassett sweater for 3 grand...a "tobacco" pipe...a gong or two and a Nepenthe sweatshirt a little to alot

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Big Sur Local Customs

  • the fog

    Big Sur is a place of seasons even if not one of extreme temperatures. What changes is the amount of rain falling and sun you are likely to see. Summer is the warmest time of year but the difference between air and ocean temperatures can lead to foggy conditions. Fall is typically cool and clear. Winters are wet with nearly constant storms. Spring...

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  • Lots of hippies in Big Sur

    Hippies flooded to Big Sur in the 1960s, and many of them later departed leaving a small population of just 1500 residents in the area. Today Big Sur might not be a hippie destination, but those hippies who remained still carry the talismans of the hippie era. VW minivans from the 60s are still prevalent and you often read about drug busts or hear...

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  • The first quarter

    The first quarter released in 2005 honors California, and is the 31st in the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters® Program. California was admitted into the Union on September 9, 1850, becoming our Nation’s 31st State. Nicknamed the "Golden State," California’s quarter depicts naturalist and conservationist John Muir admiring Yosemite Valley’s...

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Big Sur Warnings and Dangers

  • Roads

    My friend and i were driving north on rt 1 Pch by big sur when we discovered a visitor parking area. I put my turn signal on about a 100 yards befor i turned. Next thing you know. A suv passes me on the right. Sidewiped me and ran of the road. Falling and tumbeling down a steep embarkment. I thought for sure he is dead. My friend and i ran to their...

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  • No camping off season!

    Camping along the coast of California November through April may be inviting but beware. The weather is temperate, in the high 50's-70's with sun during the day but the temperature often dips below freezing overnight. When I camped in Big Sur I was fully clothed in a sub-zero sleeping bag inside a tent and still woke to find myself encrusted in ice...

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  • driving too slow on pacific coast hwy...

    My friend and i were driving north on rt 1 Pch by big sur when we discovered a visitor parking area.I put my turn signal on about a 100 yards befor i turned. Next thing you know. A suv passes me on the right. Sidewiped me and ran of the road. Falling and tumbeling down a steep embarkment.I thought for sure he is dead.My friend and i ran to their...

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Big Sur Tourist Traps

  • !7 Mile drive

    "17 mile drive seems to be a neighbourhood of rich people wanting to live in peace. So, at the entrance they charge you $8.50 trying to keep you away.Respect them, and save your money. The landscape is pleasant, the buildings are discreet and elegant, golf is seen everywhere, but... why pay for it? Bypass it, and head to the Big Sur where the...

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  • Local wines

    Sometimes, in Portugal, when you hesitate about a wine, the waiter suggests you a “local wine” not listed. That suggestion usually leads you to extreme sensations: either the disappointment of a bad wine, deserving the anonymity, or the surprise of something really good, that deserves to be served, but, being unbranded, couldn’t be listed. One way...

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  • Expensive but bella

    When in the Big Sur area everything will be expensive from gas to food. Stock up on Gas, food, water and firewood before entering the area. Stock up on Gas, food, water and firewood before entering the area.

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Big Sur What to Pack

  • be ready to camp

    With most hikes relatively short, a small day pack is sufficient to carry all you will need. Hiking boots are the wise thing to wear if walking on rocky terrain as you will be in this rugged area but water sandals with covered toes also come in handy to not only get to the beaches, but to enjoy them once there. Bring some warm clothes, nights (and...

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  • Packing List

    Personally speaking, I think it is wise to bring along both warm and cold weather clothings when packing for Big Sur. A cool, foggy morning can be followed (a few hours later) by a warm afternoon! I kid you not. Because of the close proximity of the Pacific Ocean to this coastal town, the climate here is somewhat temperate-like (if you know what...

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  • Big Sur Hotels

    15 Hotels in Big Sur

    606 Reviews and Opinions

Big Sur Off The Beaten Path

  • Beyond the Highway

    Paso Robles Wineries are just about a 95 mile 2 hour 15 minute drive from Big Sur via CA Highway 1 then Highway 46 east. Visiting the fable Hearst Castle in San Simeon at the Central Coast of California can be breathtaking and more so if you are fond of wines and vinyards, it is just less than an hour drive from the nearby Paso Robles Wine Region...

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  • Hiking

    A steep climb to the top of the peak will bring you to 5,120 feet above the Pacific Ocean, which will be just 2.5 miles in front of you. Such an amazing view from the peak, and it's so quiet up there that you can hear butterflies as they go by...The climb is beautiful in fall and spring, but would probably be scorching hot in summer, and sopping...

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  • Coastal Views / Beaches

    Pfeiffer Beach is an easy place to miss and not to be missed. We certainly would have if we were not looking at the Nepenthe website. The noted cool bluff top bar is pretty much the place to stop for a drink, with fabulous views and beautiful people. We went to the website to check out their prices more than anything else and there was a section on...

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Big Sur Sports & Outdoors

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Dive map, from the Park's website

    by Callavetta Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Point Lobos is a favorite for divers in the Monterey Bay area. Before you go, take a look at the dive links provided on the Preserve's website. Not only will it afford you maps and tips for the best places to explore, it also has a webcam which operates during daylight hours.

    Showers, picnic facilities and bathrooms are located at Whaler's Cove, which makes Point Lobos a user friendly place for divers of all experience levels.

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Big Sur Favorites

  • Sunsets

    There are so many places to view the sunset on highway one...dont be psycho about getting to a certain place...as you drive you can watch it set slowly and if need be, pull off at the las t possible minute to view this awesome spectacle. And dont all crowd into one turnout...there are plenty ahead...no matter which way you are going...dont be a...

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  • Inspired Moments

    Back on the Pacific Coast Highway, heading north, even more spectacular chunks of the coast unfolded before us, with wild flowers in profusion and a roller-coaster series of steep inclines and precipitous overlooks enticing us to look just over their edges. The pressure for a campground did not seem so great as the day prior and we turned down a...

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  • Flora / Fauna

    Along the coast of the Big Sur area of California, as you gaze off shore into the Pacific Ocean, you may often see a line of green. This is a rich habitat made of giant kelp, a slim aquatic plant that rises from the ocean floor, and is the largest marine plant on Earth. These plants can live up to 10 years, and reach 200 feet in length. It is know...

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VirtualTourist Eighth Wonder of the World Nominee

McWay Falls

McWay Falls is one of the most unique and majestic sights along California'™s coastline. The 80-foot waterfall in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park runs year-round and directly into the Pacific Ocean.

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Explore Deeper into Big Sur
Pacific Coast Highway
Things to Do
Bridges
Things to Do
Hearst Castle
Things to Do
Highway 101
Things to Do
Flora / Fauna
Things to Do
Coastal Views
Things to Do
Information / Sources
Favorites
Coastal Views / Beaches
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Hiking
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Weather
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Camping
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State Parks
Favorites
California Sea Otter Game Refuge
Things to Do
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Things to Do
Cliffside Hike
Things to Do
Jade Cove
Things to Do
Cannery Row
Things to Do
17 Mile Drive
Things to Do
Go to Carmel By the Sea
Things to Do
California State Route 1 (part two)
Things to Do
California State Route 1 (part one)
Things to Do
Go to Hearst Castle (2)
Things to Do
Go to Hearst Castle (1)
Things to Do
Rocky Creek Bridge
Things to Do
Bixby Bridge
Things to Do
Go To Paso Robles
Off The Beaten Path
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Things to Do
Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo
Things to Do
Big Sur Weather
Favorites
Lodgings, Gas, Restaurants
Favorites
Go To Lucia
Things to Do
Ragged Point
Things to Do
Go To San Simeon
Off The Beaten Path
CA Highway 1, not US 101!
Things to Do
Point Sur and Light House
Things to Do
Coastal views
Things to Do
Stop at McWay Falls
Things to Do
Lunch With The Sea Otters
Restaurants
Twisty roads for hours!
Warnings and Dangers
Rainbow Bridge of Big Sur
Things to Do
VirtualTourist Eighth Wonder of the World Nominee
Map of Big Sur

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