Quintessential Things To Do and Activities In Big Sur

Right now, along California's Highway 1, authorities are closing campsites and hiking routes. The Sobenaro wildfire is blazing along the route. It began on July 22nd and authorities don't think they will be able to contain it until at least the end of September. And that's a big shame. Most people won't pay much attention to the wildfire - California forest fires happen every year - but they should. 

You see, Highway 1 passes through the Big Sur

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It's possible there is a more beautiful meeting between the land and the sea, but if you're at Big Sur, you won't believe it. Most people just drive the Highway, pausing at times to take pictures. But it's only about 90 miles long! You can't imbibe the sheer grand spirit of Big Sur if you're zipping by it in under an hour! You have to let the place seduce you with sound and scent, at twilights and noons. Because that's the only way you'll discover all the:

Picturesque Lookouts

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Anyone with even a smidgen of interest in photography could spend a lifetime (well, at least a week) at Big Sur. Almost every location is a celebration of light and color. But a handful of spots are more photographed than any other. The elusive McWay Falls, which splashes directly into the ocean and cannot be reached by land, must be captured from a nearby overlook. Bixby Bridge's remote mystique make it one of the most photographed spots in all of California. Ragged Point overlooks the San Simeon Cove and if you wait, you might catch a whale or two in the water.

Visit the Beaches

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The variety of beaches in the region is breathtaking. The most famous of them is Pfieffer Beach, queen jewel of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for its wide sands and arched rock formation. Hike down a steep path and through an old tunnel to reach the hidden Partington Cove's adorable beach. And blue waters wash up with near-hypnotising rhythm on the long white strip that is Sand Dollar Beach.


You will be far from the first to fall in love with Big Sur. The Henry Miller Memorial Library isn't just a tribute to the genre breaking author of the Tropic of Cancer, but also popular place to get married. A couple of decades before that, two monks from Italy founded the New Camaldoli Hermitage, the most tranquil accommodation found in Big Sur. Want to go back even further? In the late 1880s, a very successful limekiln enterprise operated for a handful of years. When the limestone ran out, operations ceased. The old kilns, in disuse now, still stand, waiting for you at the end of a hike.

Visit the Waterfalls


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You may not be able to see McWay Falls up close but there are many others. Two you should check out: Hike through redwoods and small canyons to reach Pfeiffer Falls, which is very photogenic from the fall overlook. The route to Salmon Creek Falls might be less scenic, but the falls themselves are much prettier, draining into pools that look like they ought to belong in some story in Greek mythology.

Walk The Trails

image Source: Ed Coyle/flickr.com

Not every trail has a treasure at its end, but the trail itself is a priceless experience. The Ewoldsen Trail is nearly the complete package - lots of redwood forests, incredible panoramas of the coast, and some moderately challenging climbing. Conversely, the  Headlands Trail takes you through lots of open land and goes along some spectacular bluffs coast. But as far as diversity in visual splendor goes the Old Coast Road from Bixby Bridge takes the prize - clean forest paths, sweeping mountain panoramas, and fields spreading out for miles below.



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Food is scarce at Big Sur and most people stock up before they set out. But the few eateries that exist have carved out a great reputation for themselves for serving incredible food over incredible views. Have brunch atop a seaside cliff at Nepenthe Restaurant and Bar; definitely seat yourself at the patio rather than the building. Lunch at the patio at the Big Sur Lodge Restaurant follows a similar theme with one difference - the views of the sea is replaced with views of the Redwoods. If you're staying at Deetjen's Inn, then you'll find the restaurant there is as cozy and inviting as the rooms are. But the reigning monarch of the Big Sur dining experience is the upscale Sierra Mar Restaurant, where your meals are served over uninterrupted views through glass wall windows.
Big Sur will take you at least three days if you want to experience the full package. There are some things you should keep in mind. Phone reception at Big Sur is a bit tricky, partly due to many restrictions on land development here; in other words, you can't always rely on Google Maps. Accommodation is limited, so be sure to book yours in advance. If you're planning on taking more than a day, map out places to refuel well before hand. Most importantly, have a good time and keep click'n away because this is definitely the best view you'll see! 

Team of Travel Experts and blog authors from TripHobo.