As a photographer who mainly shoots in Big Sur, I can be a little biased when I say it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth but it truly is an extraordinary spot. Deep blue waters that crash along miles of glorious California coastline, the breeze against your face as you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, and endless adventures and opportunities to explore nature. It is a truly magnificent place that you must see at least once in your lifetime. If you’re thinking about heading down to Big, Sur but not sure what to do, what to bring or where to go don’t stress our guide will help you navigate the best of Big Sur!
Things To Know Before You Go
- There is no cell service, the second you cross over into Big Sur territory, your phone will go off the grid. So be prepared!
- You can do Big Sur in 1 day, but you should really spend at least 2 days there to see everything and take your time, and allow yourself to revisit areas that might have been crowded the day before.
- Big Sur is pricey, so be prepared to spend some $$ while you’re there.
- Make your reservations as far in advance as you can since things tend to book up fast!
- Many of the parks (Pfeiffer Beach, Pfeiffer State Park, Point Lobos, McWay Falls, Limekiln, etc.) require an entrance fee (usually $10) but only accept cash and the ATMs are few and far between. We recommend having cash on hand ($40-$60) just in case you decide to visit the parks.
Things To Do In Big Sur
- Visit the iconic McWay Falls which is one of the most breathtaking sights you’ll see.
- Spend a few hours exploring the beautiful Point Lobos.
- See the purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach and the iconic Pfeiffer Arch.
- Stop at Bixby Bridge to admire the architectural beauty.
- Check out the “Portal to Big Sur” at Ragged Point Inn & Resort.
- Walk down to Sand Dollar Beach and enjoy the view.
- Hike through the Redwood Grove at Glen Oaks Big Sur and see Grandmother Pfeiffer.
- Visit any of the numerous parks to enjoy hiking, waterfalls, or campgrounds. There is Limekiln State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Salmon Creek Falls Trail, and much more. Some of these parks cost money to park or enter, so check ahead of time what the fees are or carry cash with you in the car.
- Safely stop anywhere along the road while you’re driving to get out and take pictures.
- Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey before/after your trip depending on which way you’re driving.
- Visit Hearst Castle before/after your trip depending on which way you’re driving.
Places To Eat
- Big Sur Taphouse, 47520 Hwy 1, this is a great spot to grab a beer, big portions of comfort food, and watch whatever sport they have on TV.
- Big Sur Deli, 47520 Hwy 1.
- The Maiden Publick House, Village Center Shops, Hwy 1.
- Big Sur Bakery, 47540 Hwy 1, ask any local where to eat in Big Sur and I guarantee this will be at the top of their list. Definitely a popular spot in the area! On the more expensive side of “moderate”.
- Deetjen’s Restaurant, 48865 Hwy 1, another popular spot for both locals and travelers.
- Fernwood Resort Bar & Grill, 47200 Hwy 1, aka Fernwood Tavern. Tasty pizzas, bar food, and a great spot to hang out in a “pub” environment.
- Nepenthe, 48510 Hwy 1, food with a view!
- Cafe Kevah, 48510 Highway One, just downstairs from Nepenthe and supposedly more affordable.
- Sierra Mar, 47900 Hwy 1
- The Restaurant at Ventana, 48123 Hwy 1
Overall have a great time and enjoy the beautiful area you are exploring! Have you been to Big Sur? What are your favorite things to eat, places to stay, or things to do? Comment below with more recommendations!