Big Sur is handsdown one of my all time favorite places in the world and I am beyond grateful that I live so close to it, that I can drive down to this magical place within a few hours. If you are visiting San Francisco or the Bay Area, this is a fantastic roadtrip to add to your itinerary. Its also a popular roadtrip from central or Southern California, especially along the coast.
I have been to Big Sur several times and every time I fall more and more in love with it. Whether its a daytrip, weekend getaway or more ; Big Sur will cast its spell on you and leave you with nothing but incredible memories. In this blog post I will be sharing a Travel Guide to Big Sur and the surrounding popular areas in the Monterey peninsula such as – Carmel, Pacific Grove, etc.
Where to stay ?
Big Sur is very close to the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. In the past if we have stayed overnight – we have always stayed in Carmel and then driven out to Big Sur the next day. The reason we like to do this is Carmel has plenty of dining and entertainment options aside from just your hotel.
Alternatively, along the drive to Big Sur there are also some amazing places to stay, however these are more remote and secluded, which is a totally different vibe. Its good to keep these in mind when you decide where you want to stay.
Some of my fave places to stay in Carmel :
Absolutely love this cozy little inn located in the heart of Carmel. Check out my blog post here.
A charming historic hotel with an unbeatable location, super close to Carmel Beach. Check out my blog post here.
Places to stay in Big Sur :
The best located hotel in Big Sur period! This luxe cliffside resort is the ultimate Big Sur getaway.
Stunning woodside resort along the rugged Pacific coast; with the perfect mix of rustic meets luxe.
Unique yurt style resort in Big Sur.
Airbnb’s are always an option
Things to do :
1 ) Drive along the stunning CA – 1
Obviously listing this out as the no 1 thing to do! The coastal drive from Carmel to Big Sur is without a doubt one of my favorite drives in the whole world! I have done many spectacular coastal drives in the world including Great Ocean Road in Australia and Chapman’s Peak in South Africa ; and Big Sur is just as stunning as these world famous drives. California’s Pacific coast is pretty stunning throughout the state but if I had to pick one part that is the cream de la creme of the entire highway it would 100% have to be this stretch along Big Sur! There are tons of stops to do along the drive so planning your drive is key so that you can hit a few stops that interest you the most. I highly recommend driving South so that you are driving on the side of the coast, its much easier to pull over to park at stops as well. Some of my favorite stops along the way from Monterey to Big Sur (going north to south) are :
17 mile Drive
A scenic drive through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove.
Point Lobos State Reserve
Garrapatta state park
This park has my fave beach in Big Sur – Garrapatta beach. I also love the short bluff trail in this park; the views are beyond stunning!
Garrapatta state park – beach (above) and bluff trail (below)
Bixby Creek Bridge
The iconic instagram shot of Big Sur no 1.
Henry Miller Memorial Library
Mc Way Falls
The iconic instagram shot of Big Sur no 2
2 ) Spend an afternoon in Carmel
From beach to street – plenty of things to spend time on in Carmel.
The coastal town of Carmel-by-the-sea is nothing short of charming and California coastal chic. Window shop along the quaint downtown area or head over to Carmel Beach for some vitamin sea. Carmel Beach is breathtaking – with its white sands and blue waters! One of the most gorgeous beaches in all of California.
3 ) Monterey Bay
4 ) Spend an evening in Pacific Grove
I love love Pacific Grove, another adorable Monterey county coastal town. A must visit if you go here is Lovers Point Beach – a romantic little beach cove in the middle of town.
Places to eat :
Fave eats in Big Sur :
- Nepenthe (great pitstop along the main drive in Big Sur ; the views from here are superb )
- Big sur bakery (a fave pitstop along the main drive in Big Sur)
- Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn ( fine dining and a million dollar view! reservations needed if you arent a guest of the hotel )
- Sur House at Ventana Inn
- Big sur roadhouse
Fave eats in Carmel :
- La bicyclette ( amazing pizzas!)
- Tuck box ( the cutest little cafe, love the ambiance)
- Dametra Cafe ( yummy Mediterranean fare)
- Carmel Belle
Hope this helps you plan a roadtrip to magical Big Sur. Check out my other must do California roadtrips in this blog post.
Thanks for stopping by! xoxo
** Please check COVID-19 updates on local county websites, park closures on the CA State parks website, hotel reopening news etc before planning your trip.