Spanning 90 miles along the effervescent surf of the Pacific Ocean, California's Big Sur is home to awe inspiring wilderness, luxurious resorts and an eclectic community.
From sleeping amid the towering redwoods, to trekking coastal paths revealing hidden cascades, our insider's guide will leave you head over heels in love with Big Sur:
Big Sur's Hottest Accommodation
Post Ranch Inn
The Post Ranch Inn offers a unique Big Sur experience unlike anything you’ll ever have seen before. Breathtaking panoramic mountain views, luxury spa treatments, and hot tubs overlooking the ocean in every room make this the perfect location to relax and unwind after an exciting day out in Big Sur.
With 41 rooms divided into eight different Big Sur themes and two private residences, you'll be spoilt for choice. For the ultimate bliss opt for one of the Ocean View Suites. Spend the evening soaking in one of the balcony hot tubs, mimosa in hand, as you gaze out onto the Pacific Ocean, before retreating inside to cozy up by the wood burning fire. If you're after something completely unique then a stay in one of the Mountain View Rooms may be more apt. Escape the hustle and bustle while you sleep amid the treetops, waking to witness the sun rising over the mountains from the panoramic viewing platforms, and then enjoying your morning coffee in your very own private garden.
As well as boasting the most incredible range of luxury rooms and suites, the Post Ranch Inn is home to the award winning Sierra Mar Restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the evening a nine course tasting menu is available, which showcases some of the finest dishes in California. The ambiance of the restaurant is perfectly matched to this tranquil yet dramatic setting, giving you the chance to indulge in a truly memorable Big Sur experience.
Despite the luxurious rooms, amazing facilities, and top notch restaurant, nothing can compare to the awe inspiring natural scenery which is all around. Perched 1000 foot above the Pacific Ocean, with a dramatic mountainous backdrop, your stay in the Post Ranch Inn will undoubtedly leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated, especially if you take part in the yoga and meditation sessions which have become the focal point of many visitors’ trips here.
Big Sur’s Trekking Trails
This strenuous half day walk takes you on a 6.4 mile trip up a steep canyon through redwood and pine forests to Tin House where the forest clears and you are left with sensational views of the Ocean from above Big Sur. The 3.5 mile steep climb at the start of the walk is not for the faint hearted, but the reward at the top is well worth it.
Overlook Trail to McWay Falls
A quick there and back route which takes you along the cliffs to a viewpoint overlooking the impressive McWay waterfall which cascades down onto the sandy beach below. This 0.6 mile walk is perfect for those looking to understand why Big Sur is such a sensational draw, but don’t have enough time for a longer trek. The walk is located inside the Julia Pfeifer Burns State Park.
Pfeifer Big Sur State Park Nature Trail
Discover some of the amazing trees and plants found in this beautiful part of the country by going on the self guided nature trail inside the Pfeifer Big Sur State Park. The walk takes around one hour and meanders through a fascinating forest track past some incredible trees, including redwoods, oaks, and bay laurels, teaching you along the way. An especially rewarding mini hike if you have children with you.
Junipero Serra Peak
This full day 11.3 mile hike takes you up to the highest peak in the Santa Lucia Mountains, Junipero Serra. It is a physically demanding route which includes tough inclines and rugged terrain, but the scenic route is spectacular and the picture perfect view from the top provides a unique perspective of Big Sur.
Big Sur’s Cultural Highlights
Built between 1919 and 1947 by newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst, and designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan, this stunning Spanish revival style castle is a definite must see if you’re spending a few days in Big Sur. Sat atop the hills of San Simeon national park, the castle attracts visitors all year round to marvel at its impressive architecture, lavish furnishings, and odd curiosities. The castle is a modern masterpiece which not only replicates its medieval European counterparts perfectly, but also adds a sense of modern American consumerist culture with some interesting touches.
The Spirit Garden is a center for multicultural education, music, and international art, and of course, home to the most amazing gardens in the region. With exotic sculptures, human sized bird’s nests (huge stick woven chairs with comfy cushions), and an impressive array of art from around the globe, this makes for a fascinating place to visit for all. The venue also hosts a variety of live music events throughout the year, so be sure to check what’s happening during your visit to Big Sur as the ambiance of the Gardens make for a unique performance.
Henry Miller Memorial Library
Inspired immensely by his experiences in Big Sur, Henry Miller spent 20 years exploring the region and documenting his inspiring journey. Located in a wooden cabin which used to be the home of his great friend Emil White, the Memorial Library is also home to an eclectic bookshop which has become the focal point of literary minds in the area. If you have some time to spare, escape to the peaceful gardens and get lost in one of the many enthralling reads on offer.
Set up by Human Potential movement in the 1960’s as a educational and spiritual center, the Esalen Institute is a fascinating place to visit for anyone looking for some peace and tranquility in their life. The grounds are located on the historic grounds of the Native American Esselen Tribe, where the natural hot springs have been used for centuries to revive and recuperate. Look out for the Big Sur Folk Festival which is held in the sprawling grounds, complete with workshops and craft stalls that give you a chance to bring out your creative side.
Big Sur's Culinary Delights
For a once in the lifetime dining experience, the Post Ranch Inn's all glass restaurant, Sierra Mar, is not to be missed. Perched high atop the cliffs, Executive Chef John Cox presents inspired cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With an award winning menu, gorgeous architecture, and breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean, indulging yourself at Sierra Mar doesn't take much convincing.
Big Sur Roadhouse
Boasting a stylish open plan interior, complete with local artwork, cozy fireplace and creative fixtures, the Big Sur Roadhouse is one of the hottest pit stops on Highway 1. As one of the newest eateries the area has seen in recent times, Big Sur Roadhouse is the destination of choice when it comes to inventive California cuisine that won't put a dent in your wallet.
Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant
Serving up wood fired American classics, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is another local gem to be found along Highway 1. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, with a menu that changes with the seasons, tuck into delicious food and savor the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Urging diners to slow down and embrace their traditional cooking methods, the Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant menu features a lineup of sensational treats.
Perfect for when you want to grab a bite to eat while still soaking in the beautiful coastline, the palatial views and open air layout make Nepenthe a Big Sur classic in its own right. Serving lunch and dinner every day of the year, expect Thanksgiving and Christmas, this laid back restaurant prides itself on exceptional service and relaxed atmosphere.
Are you planning a trip to the Big Sur? Let us know in the comments below...