Big Sur
If you want to browse more travel inspirations, take a look at our app.
You can even bookmark inspirations and import them as a trip!
Set up in a minute. Free forever.

Discover Big Sur's serene beauty and rugged charm, a picturesque stretch of California's Central Coast along Highway 1. Sandwiched between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Big Sur is rich with natural wonders. Along this road trip, you can enjoy various activities, from picnics with incredible views to waterfall hikes, making this drive unforgettable.

Good to Know:

  • Getting There: The most scenic way to reach Big Sur is by driving Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. This route offers stunning ocean views and the opportunity to experience the dramatic beauty of the coastline. If you're coming from further away, fly into Los Angeles or San Francisco International Airport and rent a car there.
  • Getting Around: Because of its expansive nature, the best way to explore the Big Sur coast is by car.
  • Where to Stay: The best way to experience Big Sur is by camping on the state park campgrounds. If you'd like more luxury, Ragged Point Inn & Resort is a great place to spend the night.
  • How Long to Visit: While the 150 km (90 miles) drive can easily be accomplished in just a few hours, we recommend spending at least one night in the area and adding some hikes or a stint in a museum to the scenic drive. But since Big Sur offers plenty more to do, a visit can also easily take up to a few days.
  • When to Visit: Spring and fall are ideal, as the weather is pleasant and the area is less crowded. These seasons highlight Big Sur's natural beauty, with vibrant wildflowers in spring and crisp, clear days in fall.
  • Similar Destinations: If you're enchanted by Big Sur, Italy's Amalfi Coast offers similarly stunning coastal views. Or consider heading further up the US West Coast to Oregon, where dramatic beaches and lone rocks in the ocean define the scenery.



Just a short drive north of Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a picturesque town with charming architecture and an artsy vibe. The town's Pebble Beach is perfect for sunset views and relaxing walks. The iconic Lone Cypress, perched on a granite hillside, has stood here as a symbol of resilience against the ocean winds for over 250 years. If you enjoy literature, the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a cultural center honoring the author's work and hosting various artistic events, is a great place to visit. Carmel is also the starting point for the 17-mile scenic drive north, which winds through a landscape of golf courses and luxury homes atop the rugged coastline.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park:

This state park is a highlight if you enjoy being part of the great outdoors. It's known for offering some of the best camping in California, nestled among towering redwoods and along the Big Sur River. The park's most popular sight is Pfeiffer Beach, accessible by a narrow road, which features unique purple sand and the famous Keystone Arch, a rock formation that creates a surreal and picturesque seascape, especially at sunset when the light filters through the arch.

San Simeon:

Further down the coast, San Simeon lies at the end of the scenic drive. Hearst Castle, a magnificent hilltop estate, showcases early 20th-century opulence with lavish rooms, grand pools, and expansive gardens in the eccentric tastes of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. A few miles south, the Friends of the Elephant Seal Visitor Center offers insightful information about elephant seals, while a short drive to Elephant Seal Vista Point is a chance to see these magnificent marine animals lounging on the beach or engaging in their famous mating rituals, especially during the winter months.


The drive through Big Sur is punctuated by several breathtaking viewpoints. Bixby Bridge, one of the most photographed bridges in California, gracefully arches over a steep canyon with the ocean in the background. Hurricane Point, further south along the coast, offers sweeping views where sea, sky and rugged cliffs merge. Notleys Landing is a quieter spot, perfect to quietly appreciate the beauty of the coastline. Ragged Point, often called the "Gateway to Big Sur," marks the southern entrance to this majestic region and boasts panoramic views stretching for miles.


Every state park in Big Sur has excellent hiking trails. The Salmon Creek Trail near Ragged Point is an accessible, family-friendly hike that leads to a charming waterfall. At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the McWay Waterfall Trail is a short but memorable hike that culminates in a view of a waterfall plunging directly into the ocean - a rare and mesmerizing sight and one of the most iconic locations in Big Sur. The Sand Dollar Beach Trail offers some of the most stunning coastal views in Big Sur, with a path leading to the area's largest sandy beach. And if you prefer a challenging hike, the Mill Creek Trail is a rewarding trek through dense, towering redwood forests.