After heading down the California coast for a little getaway, I quickly fell in love with the magical place that is Big Sur. I'm always so in awe that God made us such beautiful spots like this to explore.
Big Sur is a central California area made up of two incredible state parks - Pfeiffer Big Sur SP and Julia Pfeiffer SP. It holds some of the dreamiest forests full of giant redwoods, a beautiful and unique coastline, and endless adventure.
I had the best time camping and exploring Big Sur and am so excited to share this guide with you!
We camped in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and loved every second of it! The park is incredibly well maintained which I loved - there were beautiful walking bridges crossing the river and great trails everywhere! As for camping, just be sure to book your campsite on parks.ca.gov to secure a spot beforehand! It was so fun to sleep among the giant trees in one of the most peaceful campsites I've stayed at! Plus, the bathrooms have both full showers and sinks, which is always a nice perk after a night of campfires, sticky s'mores, and sleeping in a tent.
If you're not big on camping, check out the Big Sur Lodge located just right outside the entrance of the park! It offers rustic rooms, a coffee shop, and dining - they also have a cute little gift shop with souvenirs and any last minute snacks or camping supplies you might need.
If you really want to go all out and take the luxury route, Ventana Big Sur looked like an absolute dream! You can stay in their lodge or book one of their glamping tents. But just a heads up, I checked their prices and rooms go for around $1,000/night.
Now it's time to explore! Big Sur is honestly one of the most beautiful places I've been. I love it's coastal cliffs, rolling green hills, redwood forests, gorgeous ocean views, crystal clear rivers - the list could go on and on!
Here's the places and things that are must-see's + do's:
McWay Falls is probably the most popular destination in Big Sur (in the Julia Pfeiffer SP) and for a good reason! How many times have you seen a gorgeous waterfall flowing into the ocean and beach below?! Trust me when I say this spot is stunning. It's a quick and easy hike to get to the viewpoint which makes it the perfect photo opportunity! I must add, please stay on the trails (for multiple reasons) - Big Sur is full of ticks and poison oak and going off trail could lead to some unwanted problems. And most importantly, I've noticed a lot of people going off the trail and climbing up above it to 'get the shot'... this is really not good for the environment because there's a reason there are trails, especially in a state regulated park! Whether that be for reforestation reasons or simply damaging the plants and destroying the what should be untouched land for the local wildlife! Please, please, please stay on the trail, friends!
Pfeiffer Beach is a great place to beach it! There's a really beautiful sea arch that I've heard is amazing to watch the sunset through!
Bixby Bridge doesn't have anything to do, it is a bridge after all! But, it is a really rad photo opportunity and kind of a famous 'California landmark'.
If you are wanting to hike, again check out Pfeiffer Big Sur SP - so many awesome trails and when you're done, take a dip in the river! Gonna say this twice only because nobody wants ticks or poison oak so please don't go wandering off trail, don't walk through thick forest, and wear long clothing!
If you just want to take in the scenery, Big Sur is located on the famous Pacific Coast Highway aka HWY 1, so just take a cruise around and enjoy the views. Stop at some of the many local art shops too, while you're at it!
With Big Sur being located on HWY 1, I highly recommend taking a road trip with Big Sur being a stop along the way. You could either head south and continue on towards Los Angeles/San Diego or drive north towards San Francisco. Or if you're really up for an adventure, do the entire scenic HWY 1 drive - I've only done bits and pieces at different times, but I'd love to do the entire stretch someday because there is lots and lots of beauty to be seen!
If you're planning on staying in Big Sur but need some day trip ideas, my favorite spots to check out would be Carmel-by-the-Sea (absolute cutest little sea town full of coastal cottages, beaches and local shops), Monterey (known for it's incredible aquarium and fisherman vibes in it's downtown right on the ocean - try spotting some sea otters), or Santa Cruz (where a surf and mountain lovers world collide and home to one of my favorite coffee shops ever, Verve. check out their boardwalk, play volleyball on the beach, or find some trails to hike or bike in the mountains. be sure to grab a yummy sandwich at The Picnic Basket to fuel your adventure).