Taking a leisurely drive south down the Californian coast from San Francisco is something everyone should do. Big Sur is the perfect place to stop and smell the sunshine or get lost in the clouds for a few days. It’s a destination that has something for everyone from hippie to high end.
Take a hike
You can enjoy a hike and catch a view in Big Sur with little effort. You can also take a hike that will test your stamina and still reward you with a stunning view. McWay Waterfall is a minimal effort hike that is less than a mile round trip on a well maintained path with maximum payoff. Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the trail leads you to coastal views, a waterfall that cascades onto an untouched beach as well as providing you a little history on the house that once stood in the main viewing area. If you prefer a serious hike, take the Pine Ridge trail to Sykes Hot Springs. It is 10.5 miles from the Big Sur Station in one direction. The reward is a hot springs on the river in the middle of nowhere.
Take in the view
For those who prefer a glass of wine with their view, Nepenthe and Sierra Mar are two restaurants that boast delicious food as well as breathtaking views. In lieu of pay per view, you can save some money and go to the Big Sur Deli and take a picnic to Pfeiffer Beach. Whatever you choose, they will all give you a front row seat for sunset.
Embrace the vibe
People often end up in Big Sur because they enjoy solitude and community. Since there is no real town center, there are stops along the way that will give you a sense of why people are drawn to the area. The Henry Miller Library has a quaint bookshop with carefully curated reads. The outdoor space is also used for concerts, writing workshops and movie nights. If you want to see what living in Big Sur inspires, Coast Gallery in Big Sur hosts prominent local artists. It was the first art gallery in Big Sur and has been there since 1958. Esalen Hot Springs is also a very unique institution that you have to experience for yourself. Take night bathing to a whole new level from 1 AM- 3 AM when Esalen allows public access by reservation only.
Get some sleep
Sleeping does not have to be something that your body forces you to. It can be an adventure. The human nest proves that nests are not just for birds. Just as the name suggests, it’s a giant nest for two adults to sleep and stargaze. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers the most campsites and is popular because it’s one of the few places in Big Sur that you can have a camp fire, showers, laundry and flush toilets. Camping near the camp store can be obnoxious as there is little space between you and the next party. Try to get a spot either along the Big Sur River or in the redwoods. Reservations sell out months in advance. If all the campgrounds in the Big Sur area are full, they have a wait list you can get on at this campground at 9 AM. Return at 2 PM to see if you’ve made the cut. Chances are relatively good as some people fail to come back. Alternatively there are multiple lodging options from yurts to luxury inns.