After a whirlwind trip around the world, coming home was a bit of a shock.  So, we made a promise to ourselves that even though we were back stateside, we were not going to stop traveling.  And lucky for us, there are so many amazing places within a short distance of our home in the Bay Area.  Which brings us to the beautiful area of Big Sur.

Part of the thrill of heading to Big Sur is driving Highway 1 aka the Pacific Coast Highway.  Around every bend is another incredible view of Central California’s dramatic coastline.  Drive slowly and stop to sit for a while on a boulder looking out to sea.  Watch for the mist of a whale spout as whales bring their calves close to shore.  And for all you Instagrammers out there, make sure to pull-off on the side of the Bixby Bridge to capture a shot of its famous architecture.

Where to Stay

Glamping: We decided to go the glamping route for our trip.  You get the best of both worlds and there’s no place better than Ventana. The property boasts a luxury hotel, restaurant, along with glamping and regular camping sites. For us “glampers”, there is access to a beautiful bathhouse that comes fully-stocked with amenities and heated floors. The inside of the tents has everything you need from a comfy bed with heated blankets to a picnic basket equipped with smores ingredients!  Our camping area also had a deck with a firepit, perfect for roasting those marshmallows!

Budget/Moderate: If you’re not looking for a camping experience but don’t want to break the bank, check out these locations: Ripplewood Resort, Fernwood Resort, or Lucia Lodge.

Luxury: If you really want to splurge for your trip to Big Sur then as mentioned, Ventana Inn & Spa has gorgeous accommodations available. You can also opt for the Post Ranch Inn, a luxury hotel set atop a cliff with unparalleled views.

What to Bring

Grab your trail running shoes or light hiking boots to enjoy the local hikes.  As far as clothing, layers are always a good idea.  Expect to sweat in the sun during your hikes, but as soon as you tuck into the shade of the trees at night, you’ll need those bulky sweaters and scarves.

We also knew there would be campfires at our location, so we brought some food and wine to make nightly picnics. Is there anything better than a dinner made of wine, cheese, and crackers?!

For your hikes, make sure to lather on the sunscreen and stay fueled with snacks and water.

Where to Eat

As previously mentioned, we packed ourselves food for the trip but if you feel like treating yourself to a nice meal, we heard great things about Nepenthe. Grab a table outside to enjoy the pretty views while sipping wine and nomming on their burgers (they have a veggie burger!)

For those that want to splurge or have a romantic meal, Ventana has an elegant restaurant called The Sur House.  Just plan to make a reservation in advance!

If you’re looking for something on the budget-friendly side, hit up the local Deli right on Highway 1.  You can grab snacks, beer, or have them make a sandwich that you can bring with you on your hikes.

What to Do

Go on a hike!

There is an 8+ mile loop at Andrew Molera State Park.  It is a challenging hike with stunning views.  Start with the Ridge Trail, and come down the Panorama and Bluff Trails.  Take the Spring Trail to find a quiet, hidden beach. For a more relaxed day of hiking with a close look at sea lions and Cypress trees, check out Point Lobos State Reserve.

Visit the Henry Miller Library

Henry Miller called Big Sur home for many years and the area has memorialized him with this quaint library tucked away in the redwoods. The library also plays host to a variety of artists who perform and give talks on its lawn. Check out the events calendar before going!

Some Final Advice

Prepare to unplug! There is very little service in Big Sur. Like, seriously, the second you cross over into Big Sur territory, your phone will likely go off the grid.  So, make the most of it and become one with nature.

Rent (or have) a car – that’s the only way to do it

Stay awhile –  you can do Big Sur in one day, but to make the most of it, opt to stay a for a long weekend


For a European road trip idea, check out our post about driving through Croatia!