11 Things You Can’t Miss in Big Sur California

11 Things You Can’t Miss in Big Sur California

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!)

11 Incredible Things to Do in Big Sur California

A big thank you to See Monterey for sponsoring this post. All opinions are always our own. This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: July 1, 2019.  First Published: May 12, 2016

11 Incredible Things to Do in Big Sur California

Local Tip / Pro Tip / Note: dsfsdfsd

photo: 

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.
First of all, the drive itself is gorgeous. Every five minutes I felt like we needed to pull over to enjoy the views. It’s one of the most scenic drives we’ve been on.

The Highway 1 Drive is one of the most scenic road trips in the world - Big Sur California USA // localadventurer.com

Coordinates: 36.159167, -121.669016, map

This is probably the photo that you see the most from Big Sur. It’s a quick walk from the parking lot and you get amazing views of the waterfall. I could hang out here all day.

McWay Falls - an 80 ft waterfall in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur California // localadventurer.com

Coordinates: 36.238041, -121.816225, map

What’s unique about this beach is its purple sand. Photographers love coming here between December and January to capture the sun portal.

Sun Portal Pfeiffer Beach Big Sur California - a purple sand beach with a rock formation where certain times of the year, the sun will shine through
Pfeiffer Beach Big Sur California - a purple sand beach with a rock formation where certain times of the year, the sun will shine through

Pfeiffer Beach Big Sur California - famously known for its purple sand beach // localadventurer.com

4. Point Sur Lighthouse

Coordinates: 36.306407, -121.901790, map

This lighthouse stands on beautiful, volcanic rock just offshore in Big Sur. It still helps guide ships along the Pacific coast.

Point Sur Lighthouse along Highway 1 - Big Sur California // localadventurer.com

5. Bixby Bridge

Coordinates: 36.371451, -121.901701, map

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.

Bixby Bridge on California Highway 1 is an iconic part of Big Sur and a popular spot for photos // localadventurer.com

6. Nepenthe Restaurant

48510 CA-1, 93920, map

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. 

Nepenthe Restaurant Big Sur California - dinner with the best views along highway 1 // localadventurer.com
Nepenthe Restaurant Big Sur California - dinner with the best views along highway 1 // localadventurer.com

Nepenthe Big Sur Restaurant - Dinner with the best views along Highway 1 // localadventurer.com

7. Henry Miller Memorial Library

48603 CA-1, 93920, map

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!

Henry Miller Memorial Library Big Sur California // localadventurer.com
Henry Miller Memorial Library Big Sur California // localadventurer.com

8. Hike to Limekiln Falls in Limekiln State Park

Trailhead Coordinates: 36.010922, -121.516739, map

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

Trailhead Coordinates: 36.252267, -121.783938, map

It’s a two mile easy to moderate hike at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. See the giant trees, beautiful landscapes, and rocky waterfall.

10. Camping at Los Padres National Forest

69345 CA-1, 93920, map

There are plenty of campsites in Big Sur, but we ended up staying at Plaskett Creek Campground. Sand Dollar Beach was right across from our campsite, and it was an easy walk over to watch the sunset.

Camping in Los Padres National Forest - some of the best unspoiled campsites in Big Sur California // localadventurer.com

11. Glamping at Treebones Resort

71895 CA-1, 93920, map

Though we love glamping in our Airstream, if you’re not an RVer, Treebones Resort is a great glamping spot people rave about.

More Things to Do in Big Sur CA

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

11 Things You Can't Miss in Big Sur California

Best Places to Stay

*If you’re not camping, anything in Big Sur is much pricier than other locations. $ Under $100, $$ Under $200, $$$ Under $300, $$$$ Over $300

What's Nearby

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

MONTEREY FAMILY PACKAGE GIVEAWAY

I’m so excited that See Monterey is giving away these tickets so you can experience more of what Monterey has to offer. The package includes:

  • 4 tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • 4 tickets to the MY Museum

To enter the giveaway, visit See Monterey here. If you need more info on the area, you can download a free visitor’s guide here (link is at the bottom).

If you want to extend your road trip, check out our California Coast guide with all the best stops along the PCH.

Have you been to Big Sur or any other part of Monterey? Is there anything else that can’t be missed?
11 Things You Can't Miss in Big Sur California

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Your Essential Big Sur California Travel Guide
What to Do in Big Sur - 11 Breathtaking Things to Do
Big Sur Things to Do
11 Things You Can't Miss in Big Sur California // localadventurer.com
McWay Falls - an 80 ft waterfall in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur California // localadventurer.com
11 Incredible Things to Do in Big Sur California
11 Things You Can't Miss in Big Sur California

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. The pictures are beautiful and I am interested to visit

  2. CALIFORNIA is so beautiful. It’s been trending as one of the hottest tourist destinations in the last years. Amazing place.

    1. Completely agree. I can understand why Californians don’t like to leave their state.

  3. The “Ambrosia burger” is the best thing to eat at Nepanthe (in my humble opinion). If you opt for fries be sure to build a tent over them with a menu otherwise the birds may swoop down and steal a few!
    Also, breakfast at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn & Restaurant is quite a treat! It’s just south of Nepenthe. And the Post Ranch Inn is also on my bucket list…..sigh

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Mimi! Will definitely check out the burger the next time I’m there. :) haha that’s too funny! I guess I never noticed the birds because I never ordered the fries.

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