As Monterey Peninsula residents, one of our favorite things to do in Summer is to take a drive along the famed Pacific Coast Highway down to Big Sur, California. Having visited Big Sur many times over the years, we’ve visited everything from notable luxury hotels (like Ventana Big Sur and Post Ranch Inn) to laid-back locals’ hangout spots (such as The Big Sur Bakery and the Henry Miller Library).
If you’re planning a trip to this majestic, must-see California destination spot, today’s travel guide shares some of the most inspiring places to visit in Big Sur, California. Plus, discover family-friendly spots to go camping, hiking, and dining around the area.
This world-renowned landmark destination is one of the first notable structures that you’ll see while driving south toward Big Sur. Named after Charles Henry Bixby, the Bixby Bridge is one of the world’s highest single-span concrete arch bridges.
It has been prominently featured in popular television shows (like HBO’s Big Little Lies), movies, and commercials. Plus, it’s been the subject in many famed photographs and paintings (such as photographer Gray Malin’s recent Monterey Peninsula series of aerial photographs).
Pack your camera, as you’ll want to take a snapshot at this iconic Big Sur spot.
Dining at The River Inn:
Another inspiring place to visit in Big Sur is The River Inn. In addition to having an indoor/outdoor restaurant, they also have relaxing Adirondack chairs perched in the Big Sur River, just beyond the restaurant. After a bite on their patio, grab a beer or a snack and head down to the river to lounge around, while enjoying the sounds of nature that fill the air.
Dining at Big Sur Taphouse:
Another fun casual place to wine and dine in Big Sur is one of the locals’ favorite hangout spots – Big Sur Taphouse. From the outside, you’d never know how cozy and inviting the restaurant actually was until you walked inside. Here you’ll find a hip hangout that offers a fabulous menu, including the most delicious fish tacos (on Fridays) and an assortment of delectable wines to choose from.
Camping in Pfeiffer Big Sur:
If you’re interested in going camping in Big Sur, we highly recommend booking a campsite at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Surrounded by a vast grove of towering Redwood trees, this picturesque park and camping destination makes for a fabulous campground (as trash receptacles, showers and bathrooms are located within a short walking distance to each campsite). Plus, it’s a fantastic place to take in the sights and explore the park by hiking up into the mountains (for gorgeous scenery and unparalleled vistas) or taking it easy and just relaxing by the river that runs through the park.
We recommend packing all your must-have essentials to make camping in Big Sur even more fun (like a tent, inflatable mattress, sleeping bags and pillows, a picnic basket filled with tasty treats, and even foldable chairs, pillows and a cozy blanket). Definitely remember to bring firewood and matches, so you can get a roaring fire going (which is perfect for those chilly nights).
Hiking in Big Sur:
In addition to hiking through the Redwood forests in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, there are lots of great hiking spots in Big Sur, California. A few of our favorites include Andrew Molera State Park (which has hiking trails through the woods out toward the beach and bluffs), Soberanes at Garrapata State Park (which is a more tedious hike uphill but has spectacular sweeping ocean vistas from the top), and for must-see views – visit McWay Waterfall Trail (which is probably one of the most photographed places in Big Sur).
For more inspiring travel tips and vacation ideas, check out the Travel section on Inspirations & Celebrations.