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The Ultimate Big Sur Road Trip Itinerary & Best Viewpoints


Located on the Pacific Coast of Central California, Big Sur is a lovely location extending 90 miles along California Highway 1. It might be brief yet a Big Sur journey loads a substantial strike full of unbelievable landscapes, a number of state parks, cooking thrills, and also lovely seaside areas.

It’s no surprise the Big Sur Road Trip is frequently ranked as one of the most effective journey worldwide. With sea heaps and also falls, treking tracks, and also sea high cliffs, this is among one of the most lovely locations we’ve been to in the United States. It’s worth investing greater than simply a day driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco along this course. Take your time to see the views and also make certain to remain the evening.

Big Sur Road Trip Itinerary

big sur road trip itinerary - california roadside attraction

We have actually created a Big Sur Road Trip plan highlighting every one of the leading point of views on California Highway 1, recommended resorts, and also leading tourist attractions. The Big Sur drive might quickly be done as an excursion from San Francisco, yet there is a lot to see, that we suggest investing a minimum of 4 days driving along this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway 1.

Big Sur is suggested to be taken gradually, so appreciate the flight, shirt when you can, or comply with a backroad to anywhere it goes. Enjoy!

Note: Parks in Big Sur are regularly transforming with openings and also closures. Stay approximately day at the California Government Website right here. Highway 1 likewise in some cases has closures so make certain to follow this Website throughout your Big Sur plan for updates on any type of issues.

How to Get to Big Sur

To Get to Big Sur from San Francisco, comply with United States 101 to 85 South and after that combine onto 17 South till you involve freeway 1. You will certainly after that comply with Highway 1 right to Monterey where you will certainly start your drive along the Big Sur shoreline of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Our Big Sur Road Trip plan complies with a course from north to southern, yet it can be driving southern to north from L.A. The authorities Big Sur drive starts in Carmel by Sea proceeding southern to San Simeon. If you wish to discovering every little thing along California Highway 1 you can review our Complete California Road Trip overview right here: The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

The 2 closest flight terminals to Carmel by the Sea are San Francisco and also San Jose Airport (they are just thirty minutes apart, so it doesn’t matter which on you fly right into yet San Jose is the closes). We suggest flying right into San Francisco and also investing a couple of days in the city you can begin your journey by driving throughout the Golden Gate Bridge! Read our overview at 72 Hours in San Francisco – A Local’s Guide to the City

We grabbed our rental automobile at the flight terminal and also had the liberty to discover the city by automobile prior to going on to Big Sur. You can’t actually reach Big Sur if you don’t drive. There are some excursions and also field trip yet if you don’t have your very own automobile, we very suggest leasing an auto to experience Big Sur to the greatest. Compare rental automobile rates at RentalCars.com for quotes on vehicles.

Big Sur Road Trip – Points of Interest

Once you have actually made your method to Carmel, we recommend making a base either right here or in Monterey. Carmel is simply a couple of min’s drive from Monterey and also there are a lot of points to do in both areas.

We have actually whole messages committed to all the important things to do in Monterey and also Carmel yet allow’s damage down a couple of points to see in both areas to begin the journey off right. If you wish to find out more regarding them, you can do so at Things to do in Carmel by the Sea, California, 20 Great Things to do in Monterey, California

1. Monterey

California Roat Trip stop: Monterey
California Roat Trip quit: Monterey

Monterey is a location in its very own right and also is an amazing area to check out in California. I assume the leading pull in Monterey is the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is committed to study and also preservation to maintain wild animals in the waters offshore. It has interactive display screens and also an ocean blue display showing numerous varieties of aquatic life. It lies on Cannery Row which is a historical road full of buying and also dining establishments.

big sur road trip itinerary sea lions
So much marinelife to see

When walking along Cannery Row, you really feel as if you went back in time right into a John Steinbeck unique. This has actually maintained the feeling of when it was the sardine resources of the globe. We likewise suggest hopping on the water, you can go whale seeing, kayaking and also see the resident sea lions and also sea otters. Read extra: 20 Great Things to do in Monterey, California

2. Carmel by the Sea

carmel by the sea

The initially main quit on our Big Sur journey plan is Carmel by the Sea. It is a lovely seaside area that is among one of the most special areas in the United States. Clint Eastwood was the mayor of this lovely seaside community and also there are a lot of points to do in Carmel to maintain you inhabited for a day or 2. Carmel genuinely does seem like a storybook with fairytale homes, art galleries, and also stunning sea sights.

We remained at The Hideaway which had stunning spaces and also lay simply a fifty percent a mile from the coastline. It was centrally situated in midtown Carmel so we might stroll to dining establishments during the night making it a terrific base for the north part of your Big Sur journey. TripExpert / Booking.com

3. 17 Mile Drive

big sur road trip - 17 mile drive carmel

There is a journey within a journey right here where you can take a detour to see 17-Mile Drive. We leased an e-bike to see this drive. It was a terrific method to prevent website traffic and also to be able to quit in all the renowned point of views consisting of the Ghost Tree and also the Lone Cypress.

This stretch of roadway experiences the special area of Pebble Beach where there are first-rate fairway, a lot of coastlines, and also panoramas. Read everything about our time right here: 17 Mile Drive – What to See on the Scenic Drive of Pebble Beach

4. Point Lobos State Park

road trip big sur - point lobos
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

The initially assigned quit on the Big Sur journey is the Point Lobos State Park which lies simply outdoors Carmel by the Sea. This is among one of the most attractive quits along the Big Sur journey situated in the north end of the drive. There are treking tracks leading bent on panoramas, and also it is a diving capital for individuals intending to discover the undersea sea kelp woodlands. But Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is likewise a bird enthusiasts’ heaven. Cost: $10 per automobile.

Whale Watching and also History

big sur road trip itinerary whales

Make certain to have a look at Whalers Cove to discover the 1800s whaling and also abalone service. Whales move via this course of the Pacific Ocean and also it was as soon as a big whaling location. It’s dark yes, yet vital to discover all background. This little cabin was as soon as house to Chinese Fishermen and also has actually currently been exchanged a gallery.

To go to Point Lobos State Park there is a $10 cost per automobile. You’ll locate that you’ll be paying $10 a whole lot on the Big Sur journey as there is a $10 cost per automobile to go into State Parks. If you intend on seeing a great deal of the parks, we suggest a State Park Pass.  

5. Garrapata State Park

things to do in big sur garrapata state park

Another among the lots of California state parks situated along this drive beyond a metropolitan facility is Garrapata State Park. This was among our preferred quits and also it is among the most effective complimentary points to do in Big Sur. With treking tracks leading bent on sea high cliffs, Garrapata State Park uses lovely sights of rock developments off the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

Located in Northern Big Sur, you’ll locate the pull-off in between mile pens 17 and also 18. When we existed rarely anybody else was strolling the treking tracks. We seemed like we had phenomenal sights all to ourselves.

Note: Most of Garrapata State Park continues to be shut considering that the 2016 Soberanes Fire yet the very first 1.25 miles of the path is open. Cost: Free

6. Bixby Creek Bridge

bixby creek bridge big sur things to do
Bixby Bridge extending over the chasm at Bixby Creek

The Bixby Creek Bridge (frequently simply described as Bixby Bridge) is one of the most renowned of tourist attractions along our Big Sur Road journey and also is a location that you should not miss out on drawing over to break some pictures. It’s been included in many movies and also most just recently, The Bixby Bridge was front and also facility in the collection Big Little Lies. At the opening of each episode, the Bixby Creek Bridge is included.

California Road Trip Bixby Bridge

The Bixby Bridge is a picturesque quit along the Big Sur shoreline with pull-offs on either side. It is among one of the most photographed areas in the location and also with great factor. The bridge stands 260 feet over a deep canyon and also was integrated in 1932. It genuinely is a task of design and also deserves making a quit to absorb the stunning sights up the coastline.

There is no cost to park at the Bixby Bridge, yet car parking is restricted. We addressed dawn and also no one else existed. We quit once more at sundown and also in mid day and also located it hard to locate car parking.

7. Andrew Molera State Park

Andrew Molero state Park Big Sur

If you are seeking a lengthy sandy coastline on your Big Sur drive, Andrew Molera is a great quit. It is likewise the biggest of the lots of State Parks along this journey so be prepared to stroll. For an enjoyable experience, take the coastline path strolling along a 1-mile lengthy course (1.6km) to the coastline where you’ll need to learn the waters of the Big Sur River. When the water is high, the park installs seasonal footbridges.

8. Point Sur lighthouse

Continuing north, make your method to Point Sur Lighthouse, component of the California State Park system. What was as soon as a crucial sign of navigating for ships taking a trip via the treacherous waters of the Pacific Ocean of the Central California Coast, can today be seen on a directed strolling scenic tour. Dating back to 1889, it uses lovely sights from its desired perch.

9. Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant

big sur river inn

One of our preferred quits on our Big Sur journey was the Big Sur River Inn and also Restaurant. Located on the Big Sur River, visitors can loosen up on the Adirondak Chairs (or as citizens of Ontario, Canada like to call them – Muskoka Chairs) and also appreciate the tranquility and also privacy. This inn was the very first dining establishment and also resort in the location and also is a must-stop. Dating back to 1888, the home was initially had by very early homesteader Jay Pheneger and after that marketed to Michael and also Barbara Pfeiffer. (I informed you the Pheiffer’s navigated).

Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant is simply 2 miles far from Andrew Molera State Park creates a great base to appreciate this State Park.

Make certain to read the souvenirs holding on the wall surfaces of the dining establishment. It’s likewise a great area to fill at the filling station, choose some food at the basic shop and also grab and also gelato at the gelato vehicle. This is a staple in the location and also a great area for lunch on your Big Sur drive or to get some treats for the roadway at the General Store. Don’t neglect to get hold of a gelato there also. It is to need.

10. The Big Sur Roadhouse

The Big Sur Roadhouse was a terrific quit for lunch with dishes made from regional components and also a farm-to-table food selection. The food was great, yet we likewise enjoyed the kicked back environment. Sure, the abundant and also renowned regular this place, yet it doesn’t really feel snooty or inhospitable. In truth, it still has that hippie ambiance that made it so unique to begin with.

11. Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer beach big Sur

One of our preferred areas to check out in Big Sur was Pfeiffer Beach. Located simply southern of Big Sur Station, Pfeiffer Beach was a little bit hard to locate, yet fortunately, Viktor Elizarof created a terrific Photography Guide right here to aid us locate it!

How to reach Pfeiffer Beach: Take the cut-off at Sycamore Canyon Road and also drive the sturdy two-mile locate to the coastline. Here you’ll locate the stunning Dollar Beach and also Keyhole Arch rock development. Pfeiffer Beach has a lengthy sandy coastline that is a lovely stroll at sundown with incredible sights. It’s a vast coastline with high dune and also where Sycamore Canyon Creek clears right into the Pacific Ocean.

Big Sur things to do Pfeiffer Beach Arch
Stunning Pfeiffer Beach at sundown

Be certain to walk right along the coastline where you’ll locate the purple sand that made Pfeiffer Beach renowned. The purple colour was produced from the manganese garnet rocks located in the sea high cliffs. There is a $10 entryway cost to Pfeiffer Beach.

12. Stop in at Nepenthe

things to do in big sur view from nepenthe

This coastline has actually attracted craftsmens for years and also no area reveals that greater than Nepenthe. Sitting high atop a sea high cliff looking into the Pacific Ocean and also Santa Lucia Mountains, this has actually been the best place for poets, tourists and also musicians.

There is absolutely nothing much better than resting on its exterior balcony to enjoy the sundown and also visualize that else has actually taken pleasure in these sights. It was as soon as had by Rita Hayworth and also Orsen Wells. Be certain to read the Phoenix Shop including regional musicians.

10. Ventana hotel

where to stay in big sur ventana
The entrance hall of Ventana Resort

We remained an evening in both Monterey and also Carmel yet we likewise remained 2 evenings at Ventana Resort. There is outdoor camping and also various other holiday accommodation along the course also. Ventana Resort is pricey yet they likewise provide outdoor camping and also Glamping so there are cost effective choices Read extra regarding Ventana right here at Glamping in Big Sur – Luxury in the Redwood Forest

Two Sides to Ventana

Access to the Amenities at Ventana while Glamping in Big Sur
Access to the Amenities at Ventana while Glamping in Big Sur

Ventana Resort – We camped in the high-end tented camp amongst the redwoods of Ventana hotel and after that invested the evening in among its high-end collections. If you wish to feel what it’s like to live like motion picture celebrities, spend lavishly for an evening on this area. It creates a terrific base to discover all the leading points to do in Big Sur also. Read: Glamping in Big Sur – Luxury in the Redwood Forest

Ventana Big Sur An Alila Resort is an elegant remain in Big Sur with decadent collections that have exterior showers, jacuzzis and also hammocks. If you are seeking to spend lavishly simply as soon as in your life, remain right here. Taylor Swift and also Mark Zuckerberg have actually remained at this hotel.

11. Glamping at Ventana

Glamping in Big Sur

An even more cost effective to appreciate Ventana is to camp with your very own recreational vehicle amongst its redwoods or publication an evening in the Glamping Tents. We remained in among the camping tents and also they provided every little thing from warm water containers to cooking tools and also every little thing we required to make SMores. You can likewise us the centers when camping at the camping area and also appreciate the dining establishments.

12. Post Ranch Inn

Post Ranch Inn is an additional area to remain on you Big Sur journey. It is past unbelievable hotel with exclusive collections, infinity swimming pools, and also outrageous high-end. (albeit a little less costly than Ventana) But if you are mosting likely to spend lavishly throughout your life, it may also get on this extravagant drive in California. Enjoy the life of a film celebrity for an evening or to as you commemorate a wedding anniversary or unique celebration.

13. Henry Miller Memorial Library

The Henry Miller Memorial Library honors the author that was a veteran homeowner. It likewise includes resident musicians with online efficiencies, and also publications to buy by regional authors and also it showcases regional musicians with revolving programs. It is open Wednesday via Saturday. Visit the web site for occasions.

14. McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

what to do in big sur McWay Falls
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls

Located in the south of the Big Sur at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is McWay Falls. It is among one of the most prominent points to do in Big Sur. Not to be puzzled with Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (we’ll reach that soon), Julia Pfeiffer State Park was called after Julia Pfeiffer, a very early leader in the location. Take a brief half-a-mile walking (800 meters) to one of the most lovely falls detecting the sea.

McWay Falls is among one of the most photographed websites in Big Sur and also with great factor. This excellent little cove dives 80 feet/24 meters from a granite high cliff. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a lovely area for dawn or sundown. How do we understand? We chose both!

Cost to see McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – You thought it, $10 per automobile. For dawn, we gambled and also didn’t pay. Nobody existed that early/

15. Redwood Forests of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

California redwoods big sur
See the redwoods of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

I need to claim, the Pheiffer’s navigated! (not in the method you are assuming). The Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park takes you to the southernmost area of the California Redwoods. Get off the coastline and also walking via the redwoods to Big Sur River. Therea are 38 miles of tracks at Pfeiffer Big Sur and also you’ll locate several of the earliest and also greatest redwoods in the location right here.

If you take the George Trail, you’ll have the ability to see an entertainment of very early homesteader John Pfeiffer’s 1884 cabin. Explore this component to witness the Santa Lucia Mountains increasing from the Big Sur River Gorge and also obtain shed in this 1,000-acre maintain. Cost: $10 per automobile.

Limekiln State Park

big sur things to do, dave roasting marhsmallows at camp fire

Can’t obtain sufficient of Redwoods? If you wish to do some outdoor camping, Limekiln State Park has camping sites at Limekiln Creek and also at a coastline. Learn regarding the background of Big Sur right here as you uncover the 1880s sector of lime harvesting. Back after that lime was extracted from the sea high cliffs and also refined in lime kilns sustained by the huge redwoods. Boy am I thankful they quit this sector. Although they didn’t have much of a selection, the lime and also the redwoods were tired and also left in damages. But nature has actually expanded back around the iron-and-stone kilns links.

Sand Dollar Beach

Just a little further southern is the lengthiest coastline in Big Sur, Sand Dollar Beach. As well as being the lengthiest coastline, it is a prominent place for browsing. There is a close-by camping area so if you wish to invest a long time at the coastline, you can start a business simply in the future. Sand bucks can be located on the coastline at reduced trend making this a prominent trend merging place. Just make certain to look and also don’t touch.

There is a $10 cost per automobile to check out Sand Dollar Beach.

Ragged Point

things to do in big sure video
Watch our video clip of our drive right here.

If you are seeking a break, drop in at the Ragged Point Inn and also Resort which rests high up on a sea high cliff. Located north of San Simeon, Ragged Point was as soon as component of the Hearst Ranch. The Ramey household started a business right here in the 1950s and also it has actually been given to generations as today the great-grandchildren run the hotel and also dining establishment. Even if you are not remaining at Ragged Point, make certain to appreciate a dish and also absorb the sights of the California Coast. Make certain to quit at Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve to see the resident elephant seals.

End at San Simeon

hearst castle swimming pool
Hearst Castle Swimming Pool – Road Trip California

San Simeon is where the Big Sur Road Trip finishes yet the Pacific Coast Highway continues to Los Angeles. You can make a base right here as there are a lot of points to do. This is house to Hearst Castle, there are coastlines, treking tracks, and also such as this whole journey, a lot of aquatic life and also lovely sights of the Pacific Ocean. You can take excursions of Hearst Castle beginning at $30.

Read These various other messages to aid intend your Big Sur journey

Where to Eat On Your Big Sur Drive

where to eat in Big Sur

Ventana

Incredible Prix Fix dishes and also great eating forgeting the Pacific Ocean from high atop sea high cliffs. We also saw whales distant throughout our morning meal right here. (make certain to bring your field glasses). This area is hectic for supper so appointments are advised.

Nepenthe

Food at Nepenthe in Big Sur California

Nepenthe is among one of the most prominent areas to consume due to its remarkable sight. With sights of the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Pacific, make certain to include it to your Big Sur plan. We enjoyed our dish and also the environment of Nepenthe and also very suggest having supper right here.

Are there Budget Hotels in Big Sur?

Not actually, this location satisfies the high-end market unless you are camping. The historical Big Sur River Inn is the closest to cost effective yet it is still costly. However, ti doesn’t get to the hundreds of bucks per evening of the Post Ranch in or Ventana.

Fernwood Resort is likewise a great alternative with a range of outdoor camping, cabins, and also a motel.

Camping in Big Sur

big sur camping ventana redwoods

Don’t fear, if you don’t wish to invest a lot of money on an area for an evening, there is a lot of outdoor camping along the Big Sur journey. Some prominent camping sites are Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground, Big Sur Campground and also Cabins, and also Riverside Campground and also Cabins.

If you are seeking cost effective holiday accommodation, have a look at resorts in Monterey and also Carmel by the Sea. They are terrific areas to make a base while on your journey.

Rent a Car – California is a state for driving so rent out an auto for your Big Sur drive. You can contrast automobile rental rates at RentalCars.com

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big sur road trip itinerary

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most effective time to check out Big Sur?

There is no hard time to check out Big Sur. Being California it can be checked out year-round. The peak period is from April to November with groups being heaviest in July and also August. September to November is still lovely and also much less jampacked and also winter months is a great time to locate offers on holiday accommodation. We entered May and also June and also had couple of groups and also the weather condition was wonderful with bright days and also cold nights.

How long should you invest in Big Sur?

You can see all the point of views and also tourist attractions in eventually, yet we suggest a 3 day Big Sur plan to actually discover it and also to do all the walks, appreciate the dining establishments and also resorts.

Can you drive to Big Sur?

You can drive to Big Sur from Los Angeles or San Francisco. It is prominent to make a base in Carmel by the Sea or Monterey. It is a five-hour drive from Los Angeles and also is 2 hrs and also thirty minutes from San Francisco.

Where does the Big Sur journey begin and also finish?

There is no details beginning factor for a Big Sur plan, yet the drive is normally taken into consideration to start in Carmel by the Sea if you are originating from San Francisco and also finishes near the San Carpóforo Creek in the north of San Simeon.

And these are the leading points to do in Big Sur together with one of the most lovely areas to check out. If you are intending a journey to California, make certain to have a look at this stunning stretch of freeway along the Pacific Coast.

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