Breathtakingly magical to the eyes, Big Sur offers the world's most dramatic coastal drive, cherished hiking and campgrounds, and dining with a view — and is the place to replenish the heart and mind.
Be boho. It's fine. At Big Sur River Inn (bigsurriverinn.com), cabins are spacious, and country dining and shopping right across the street awaits. Fernwood Resort (fernwoodbigsur.com) offers plenty on that front but tosses in camping and glamping (in upscale tents) right along the rushing river.
Extravagance at Post Ranch Inn (postranchinn.com) will be hard to match, so splurge and enjoy some of the most remarkable accommodations in California. A great addition: A range of helicopter experiences that will transport visitors along the coast, even as far as Hearst Castle.
Natural perfection can be found at Ventana Big Sur (ventanabigsur.com), where the sky, the sea, the mountains, and the redwoods unite. You can even explore a woodsy trail that takes you right into the heart of the redwoods and deposits you at The Sur House.
Nepenthe Restaurant (nepenthe.com) is regally perched high above the Pacific, where otherwordly sunsets accompany California-themed meals of the organic nature (think farm-raised beef, fresh fish, and bountiful salads). Surrounded by pine trees and redwoods, Big Sur Bakery (bigsurbakery.com) satisfies palates with its signature coffee drinks and freshly baked breads (heavenly!) and inventive dishes (their butterbraised local halibut scented with Big Sur lemons and sage is a hit). Take home the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, available for purchase.
Hawthorne Gallery (hawthornegallery.com) attracts lovers of jewelry, ornate furniture, colorful ceramics, and brilliant wood designs. For all things related to Big Sur and items made by local artisans, wander into Big Sur Garden Gallery (bigsurgardengallery.com).
For the best form of nightly entertainment around these parts, just look up; the stars are the main attraction. At festive Fernwood Tavern (fernwoodbigsur.com/tavern.html), colorful locals are the co-stars. This hot spot features upbeat live music and plenty of drinking options.
Drive south from Carmel on Highway 1 and stop at any number of pullouts and just look right: crashing surfs, rugged shorelines, a glorious expanse of the Pacific. Snap away at Bixby Bridge.
Enter the enclaves of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or Limekiln State Park for once-in-a-lifetime moments along Highway 1. The beaches and natural boulder arches at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park are just as breathtaking and Instagram-ready. Don't rule out Highbridge Waterfall at Andrew Molera State Park.
Henry Miller Memorial Library (henrymiller.org) rests in a forest clearing and honors the famed writer with a collection of vintage and modern books for sale in its bookstore. During the summer, locals gather to watch outdoor movies or live concerts.
Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, November 2018
Organic foods, noteworthy wines, and exquisite scenery. Proceeds from the event benefit health, safety, art, and educational programs in the region.
BIG SUR, seemonterey.com
Nepenthe Restaurant turns heads with its extraordinary view and an after-meal social gathering at its fire pit.
Photo courtesy Nepenthe