Big Sur is home to some of the most iconic stretches of coastline in California. Located about an hour and a half from the Bay Area, Big Sur is an excellent spot for a weekend escape. Here’s how you can spend a weekend in Big Sur.
Photograph the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur
The Bixby Bridge is nearly synonymous with the Big Sur area. As touristy as it is, this bridge never fails to amaze me and is always worth a quick leg stretcher.
Tip: Instead of fighting for parking on Highway 1, pull onto the dirt road just north of the bridge. This dirt road used to be the way into Big Sur.
Get a pastry and drink at the Big Sur Bakery
The Big Sur Bakery is a must stop spot on your road trip. Not only is it the only spot in Big Sur with reliable cell service, the pastries and drinks are to die for. Don’t miss out on the ginger scone. It also makes an excellent trail snack.
You’ll need to get here early for pastries. The Big Sur Bakery runs out by mid day.
If you’re looking for more substantial meal options, the restaurant menu is delicious, albeit expensive.
Visit McWay Falls
No trip to Big Sur is truly complete without a visit to McWay Falls. Like Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls is also iconic. Getting here requires a short, family friendly hike to an overlook.
Take extra care; there’s ton of poison oak around the trail. Make sure you also stay on the marked trail. California coastal bluffs are crumbly and prone to erosion.
Hike Cone Peak at Sunset
Cone Peak is the tallest coastal mountain in the lower 48 states, and it’s pretty dang marvelous. Sunset here is even better. A fire lookout tower sits atop this summit, letting you climb up onto the balcony for even better views.
There are several ways to get to the summit of Cone Peak. The easiest is via Nacamiento-Ferguson Road, which is great if you’re short on time. You can also backpack in via Vicente Flat from Highway One.
Swim in the Big Sur River
The Big Sur River at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is one of Big Sur’s biggest secrets. Who knew there was a swimming hole in the Santa Lucia Mountains?
This hike follows the Big Sur River upstream and opens into the most beautiful and unexpected granite gorge. Water levels vary from year to year, and season to season. Summer is the most crowded, while winter is absolutely freezing.
Visit Limekiln Falls
Tick redwoods and waterfalls off your list by visiting Limekiln State Park. Named after the historic limekilns here, this waterfall can easily be visited in half a day or less. A short mile and a half jaunt through the redwoods drops you at the base of the falls.
Grab a Bite at Nepenthe
Killer views with a killer menu, Nepenthe is the best way to unwind after a long day. Get the Ambrosiaburger. It’s what they are known for. Then relax and enjoy the view.
Visit Calla Lily Valley at Garrapata State Park
Calla Lily Valley, just south of Carmel, is a hidden gem. In fact, all of Garrapata State Park is a hidden gem. I’ve driven past this spot more times than I can count. Little did I know what I was missing!
Visit Calla Lily Valley in late winter or early spring to see the flowers blooming! Head here when it’s wet and rainy and watch the valley turn extremely lush and green. And of course, golden hour can’t be beat.
Where to Stay in Big Sur
Kirk Creek Campground – The Kirk Creek Campground is one of the best sites in Big Sur. It sits adjacent to Highway One on the ocean. Book carefully as some sites are much better than others. Reservations can be made via recreation.gov. Occasionally there will be walk in spots available.
Post Ranch Inn – If camping is absolutely not your thing, stay at the Post Ranch Inn. This hotel is THE luxury spot in Big Sur. Its prime location on the coastal bluffs will make it so you might not even want to leave the property.
Treebones Resort – Glamp along the California coast at Treebones Resort. Treebones Resort offers plush yurt accommodations and an excellent onsite restaurant.
Hofsas House Hotel – If you don’t mind a bit of driving, stay at the dog-friendly Hofsas House Hotel in California. This small boutique hotel feels just like home away from home.