Big Sur is by far one of my favorite places in the US. The beauty of the place always has me coming back for more. On our Endless Caravan, it was no question that we’d be stopping here.
We thought it was perfect timing when See Monterey asked us to put together a post featuring our favorite spot. If you’re visiting Big Sur in #Monterey, here’s a guide of things you can’t miss (most of which we’ve done, and there are a couple on the list that we’ll be doing on this trip!)
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Last Updated: January 15, 2021
11 Incredible Things to Do in Big Sur California
What You Need to Know Before You Go - Essential Big Sur Tips
- The most popular time to go is from April to October. The weather is the nicest but it’s also the most crowded. You can go whale watching in the winter.
- There is no service in Big Sur, so plan ahead. If you need wifi, stop in at a restaurant or hotel. Download your google maps ahead of time so you can have offline access.
- Book your rooms ASAP. Everything books up far in advance. I was looking up dates for the summer in spring, and I couldn’t find anything available.
- Check current road conditions since there are landslides and fires that can close the roads.
- Everything in the area is pricey from food to hotels. If you want to save money, you can pack some snacks. Otherwise, expect this trip to be a splurge.
- Expect crowds. The first time I visited was in 2009, and we didn’t see many people at all. It was mostly California locals visiting. Present day, everyone is making their way there as it is one of the most beautiful places in the US, if not the world.
- It can be done as a day trip. I’ve done it with a friend in SF since we had already been multiple times, but if it’s your first time, we recommend staying much longer to fully enjoy the views.
5. Bixby Bridge
Bixby Creek Bridge is an architecturally beautiful bridge on its own, but add in the dramatic cliffs and seaside and you have one of the most picturesque spots in the area.
6. Nepenthe Restaurant
This place is very touristy, but it’s an iconic part of Big Sur. We had lunch here in the summer of 2009. I can’t remember anything too special about the food, but the views were incredible! I wouldn’t mind coming back for at least a drink or two.
7. Henry Miller Memorial Library
This library is dedicated to works of those who have lived in or near Big Sur, particularly the late writer and artists Henry Miller. It’s a great spot to check out if you love the Big Sur area too!
8. Hike to Limekiln Falls in Limekiln State Park
Hike through giant redwoods and bubbling streams, and find yourself staring up at a 100-foot cascading waterfall.
9. Pfeiffer Falls and Valley View Trails at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
It’s a two mile easy to moderate hike at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. See the giant trees, beautiful landscapes, and rocky waterfall.
More Things to Do in Big Sur CA
- Sand Dollar Beach – the largest beach in Big Sur
- Whale Watching and Condor Spotting (weekends in January)
- Esalen Hot Springs
- Cone Peak Summit Trail – 3.5 mile hike, out and back. It has beautiful California poppies in spring.
- Jade Cove Trail – 1.5 mile loop, moderate difficulty.
- Andrew Molera State Park
- Tide Pooling at Partington Cove
- Big Sur Marathon (late April)
- Foragers Festival (Jan)
Best Places to Eat
- Big Sur Bakery – Loved all our food here.
- Nepenthe – has great views
- Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn – prix fixe menus
- The Sur House at Ventana
What to Pack for Your Big Sur Trip
Best Places to Stay in Big Sur
*If you’re not camping, anything in Big Sur is much pricier than other locations.
Check out See Monterey for official travel info for Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel Valley, Salinas Valley, Moss Landing, Marina, Sand City, Seaside, Del Rey Oaks and Salinas. Plan your epic road trip today! #GrabYourMoment
Download a free visitor’s guide here for more info. If you want to extend your road trip, check out our California Coast guide with all the best stops along the PCH.
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Things to Do in California
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust