"Big Sur, One of My Favorite Places" Top 5 Page for this destination Big Sur by KimberlyAnn

Big Sur Travel Guide: 311 reviews and 898 photos

Big Sur can refer to the small village of Big Sur, California, which is located about 27 miles south of Carmel, or the Big Sur Coastline, which is traversed by highway 1 and may be the most famous drive in the state. The village of Big Sur is made up of a post office, a small grocery store, a gift shop, and a deli all located in one complex. The deli has delicious sandwiches, a small variety of Mexican foods, rolls, and various types of salads. We have tried a number of items at the Big Sur Deli and have not eaten anything bad yet. There are also various lodgings, campgrounds, and state parks nearby.

This page, however, will concentrate on the Big Sur Coastline, which extends, depending on who you talk to or which pamphlet you read, from about Monterey south to San Simeon along highway 1. This is considered the central coastal area of California and covers around 75 miles. Some people, however, say that it runs from San Francisco south to Los Angeles. As I said it depends on where you get your information.

We have traveled many roads across our country, and if you were to ask me for the ONE drive that I thought was the most beautiful, highway 1 would be the first drive to come to my mind. We have been here twice, and I must say that I found it just as awesome the second time as I did the first. With the Los Padres National Forest on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, you drive for miles with huge expansive views. The road is a narrow two lane, often curvy, and in many areas it hugs the edge of the shoreline that may drop off far below you. It is stunning, with rock spires jutting up from the surface of the water in many areas, and when the water is rough these spires set up huge sprays of water as the ocean waves hit them. On clear days the water may be a deep blue, meeting a blue sky, on light fog days you will see the gray fog clouds lying in the hills and hiding the horizon line from your view. Unfortunately there are times when there are heavy fogs, and we have looked out from the road and seen, well, nothing, not even the ocean below us. We have been told that warm weather can bring days and days and days where you do not see the sun at all as the fog closes in around the area. Hopefully you will have a chance to visit this area some day, and it won?t be socked in with fog. In the photo you see the Bixby Creek Bridge which we cross each time we travel from our campground in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Monterey. This is a concrete bridge with a 700 foot span that is often seen in photographs. Park on the north side of the bridge and get out to view the bridge and snap your own photos of the area.

Some helpful web pages on the Big Sur country are: Bigsurcalifornia.org and www.byways.org

Note: I have numbered my "Things to Do" tips in the order that you would pass them while driving from Monterey in a southerly direction. For this reason it is best to view these tips as "Member's Choice."*

Be sure to plan time to make a number of stops along the way. Find time to enjoy the views and take time to sit on one of the beaches along the way to watch and also to listen to the surf. In the photo you see my husband sitting on the beach in Limekiln State Park.

You will find a number of pull offs along the highway which will allow you to stop, park your car, and get out, if only for a few moments. These give you the opportunity to take photographs, and look out across the water. Watch for seals or the blows of whales off in the distance. Or maybe you will see a sea otter floating on its back. Look for birds such as eagles, hawks, vultures, sea birds, and many other smaller birds that frequent this area of California.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:One of the most beautiful areas of the country with a number of state parks and beaches along the way.
  • Cons:There can be days of fog, which will hide the glorious views from you.
  • Last visit to Big Sur: Feb 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (12)

Comments (9)

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo
    Oct 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM

    The more I read about the Big Sur the more I want to visit it. The wildlife is a big attraction. We'd love to see Sea Otters - were they cracking open clams on their tummies? Thanks, Mike

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2008 at 12:29 PM

    Vibrant photographs, excellent descriptions, valuable information, and interesting insights. I really enjoyed these pages. I've always wanted to drive The #1 highway. Hope it happens soon.

  • Tugboatguy's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2008 at 6:49 PM

    Anne, Wonderful coverage of Big Sur beaches & parks I have driven past or flown over so many times without stopping. Especially liked alternate route Tip as Hwy 1 is frequently blocked by landslides & there are no detours except turning back. Doug

  • cnango's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2008 at 5:54 PM

    Wonderful job on Big Sur, you deserve to be top 5! Your pictures brought back gr8 memories & your tips are very informative.

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Oct 23, 2007 at 9:29 AM

    Beautiful vistas. Excellent tips. Went camping there with a midnight raid by a racoon. Cheers, SL :)

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2006 at 2:40 AM

    Wonderful photos. We spent a few lovely days in this area for our 20th wedding anniversary, stayed at Ventana Inn, perfect getaway spot. Love this coast.leyle

  • sikorka's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2006 at 3:20 AM

    Hi Anne, I enjoyed a lot your Big Sur page, I was there 3 years ago unfortunately I missed Point Piedras.

  • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2005 at 12:27 PM

    Hi Anne. I have to agree with you that this is probably one of the best scenic drives in the U.S. if you don't have to drive through fog!!! Love you pictures. Marcia

  • TinKan's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2005 at 10:24 AM

    I see you like to visit the National Parks. What a wonderful look at Big Sur. Loads of info and great pictures.


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