The Big Sur Road Trip is one of the most stunning itineraries in the United States, with sea heaps and cascades, hiking trails, and seaside cliffs. Between Carmel and San Simeon, the Central Coast of California’s roadway passes through the rough and steep Big Sur region.
Every traveler can find something to do in Big Sur besides taking a beautiful drive. As your favorite trip planner, we will discuss some of the biggest Big Sur Road Trip itineraries. Although the Big Sur road trip sounds like a lot of fun, there is a lot of planning to do before going out on the road.
Big Sur Road Trip Itinerary Top 12 Attractions
Choosing your Big Sur Road Trip Route
(Depends Where You’re Coming From)
Before you begin your trip to Big Sur, it’s important to map out a route and create an itinerary that works for you. There are a few routes that will take you to Big Sur, depending on where you’re starting from be sure to research which route would be the most efficient. Additionally, plan out time to make stops along the way if needed – this might include snacks or restroom breaks. It also helps to account for potential traffic or construction delays. By adequately planning your route and creating an itinerary, you’ll save yourself time and make the most of your road trip. There are two main destinations that you can get from to the Big Sur:
From San Francisco – To get from San Francisco to Big Sur, take Highway 101 South to Highway 156 West, then Highway 1 South. The total journey will be about 150 miles and will take you through Monterey and Carmel until finally reaching Big Sur.
From Los Angeles – If you are starting the journey in the city of Los Angeles, take Highway 101 North to San Luis Obispo. Then, turn onto Highway 1 North and keep going until you reach Big Sur! The total distance is around 300 miles and an approximately 4-5 hour drive.
There is a detailed explanation at the official site of the Big Sur here.
When to visit the Big Sur
The best time to visit the Big Sur is during the spring in order to enjoy from the beautiful scenery that adds a lot to the trip. September to November might be a good time, but for my opinion the scenery looks the best from April to June.
Where to stay in the Big Sur
There aren’t many accommodation options in the Big Sur, especially because the majority of people decide to finish the trip in one day only. But don’t worry people, we’ve gathered the best option to stay in during your trip if you want to take it a little bit slow and to really absorb every attraction (like you should):
Big Sur Lodge – Big Sur Lodge is just off Highway One, so it’s really great if you want to arrange a star itinerary for your trip. The rooms have everything you need in a good hotel. If you’re feeling exhausted from all your traveling during the day, just jump into the heated swimming pool in order to get your end of the day relaxation. Oh and one of the best parts about this hotel is that you can bring your best friend, because the hotel allow pets.
Ventana Big Sur – Absolutely one of the best hotels in the area. The hotel is surrounded by a near perfect scenery and you can enjoy from the beautiful views from almost every part in the hotel. If you’ll choose Ventana you’ll really maximize your experience as you can enjoy activities like whale-watching, horseback riding, wine tasting, and much more! Meanwhile, take advantage of its unique amenities like outdoor fire pits, complimentary bikes and yoga classes.
Post Ranch Inn – This one is all about the luxury experience, the hotel is Located on a stunning bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In here there is a swimming pool as well, but here it’s an infinite pool, in addition you can enjoy the warm library with the fireplace. Each suite comes with king bed, fireplace, outdoor area with fireplace and views of the ocean or mountains.
Items You Will Need to Take While Driving Big Sur
- Water bottle
- Beach Blanket
- Car charger
Calculate your stops While Driving Big Sur
The most exciting thing about a road trip is getting to experience and explore new places along the way that you never seen before. When you’re planning your itinerary, try to identify the best stops that are worth your time. Consider well-known attractions like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge or Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary; or less-visited towns with unique offerings such as Leggett, where giant redwood trees abound. Finding the perfect balance between maximizing your vacation time and taking in the scenery will make for an action-packed yet relaxed trip to Big Sur.
So, Here Is The Big Sur Itinerary
Carmel by the Sea is a beautiful little hamlet that was developed in the 1880s and is located along the coast. The town still retains parts of its traditional stone chimneys and gable roofs, both of which bring images of the English countryside. Carmel has two beautiful beaches. The main Carmel Beach has a sandy shoreline surrounded by cypress trees, making it a beautiful place to relax, walk, or surf for a day.
Carmel River State Beach is just around the corner from Carmel Beach, and it’s a great place to go if you want a little more peace and quiet. Carmel is where all road trips to Big Sur begin, so it’s a great place to stop and get any last-minute things you might need.
Bixby Creek Bridge
The construction of the bridge began in 1932, and today it is regarded as one of the most impressive examples of its sort anywhere in the globe.
Even though you’ll be able to cross the Bixby Creek Bridge as you travel down Highway 1, which is one of the most famous locations in Big Sur, the bridge is still worth stopping to take pictures of. It has appeared in a large number of movies, the most recent of which was the series Big Little Lies, where the Bixby Bridge played a prominent role.
The Point Lobos State Park
It is close to Carmel by the Sea, which is the first official stop on the Big Sur Road Trip. Located at the northern end of the drive, this is one of the most picturesque destinations along the Big Sur Road Trip. There are hiking routes leading to beautiful views, and it is a haven for scuba divers looking to explore the sea kelp forests below the surface.
In addition to hiking, Point Lobos State Park offers a wide range of water sports. The park is regarded as one of the top diving locations on the entire West Coast since it is one of California’s richest marine environments.
Make sure to plan ahead if you’re eager to explore this intriguing underwater region of Point Lobos State Park because diving at its authorized locations requires special permission.
Garrapata State Park
Hiking trails at Garrapata State Park run all the way out to the sea cliffs, providing visitors with breathtaking views of the rock formations that can be found off the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
The Cliffs Walk is a popular path in the park because it offers breathtaking opportunities to obtain up-close views of the local flora as well as amazing vistas of the ocean and mountains. The trail also follows the park’s coastal cliffs and can be found along the park’s coastline.
If you are interested in marine life, you should put a visit to Soberanes Point on your list of things to do. It is simply a spectacular site, with views of the seashore cliffs that will take your breath away.
Monterey is a wonderful spot to visit in the state of California. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is committed to studying and conserving in order to preserve animals in the waters offshore, and it is likely to be the most popular tourist attraction in Monterey.
It features hands-on exhibits that visitors may interact with as well as an open sea exhibit that showcases hundreds of kinds of marine life. Cannery Row is a historic roadway that is home to a variety of shops and dining establishments, and it can be found on the street of Monterey.
Andrew Molera State Park
The largest state park in the Big Sur area, Andrew Molera State Park provides visitors with access to a diverse range of ecosystems. It is an excellent destination for individuals who seek variation in their daily routines.
This park is not as busy as the others, which means that it is an excellent place to visit if you are looking for some quiet time to yourself.
The most important thing to do at Andrew Molera is to put on your hiking boots and follow a couple of the twenty miles of trails that are available at the park. It is home to meadows, hilltops, cliffs, and beaches which makes it picture-perfect.
Each hike comes with its own unique set of incredible views and sensations.
Purple sand exists in reality! You’ll get the chance to experience it with your own eyes if you visit Pfeiffer, one of the most fascinating beaches on the entire globe!
It’s true that Pfeiffer Beach is best known for its purple sand, but that’s not even close to being the only thing that makes it famous.
A stunning natural arch can be seen just off the coast of this beach, and it is another one of the magnificent features that give this beach its one-of-a-kind character.
When the sun is about to set, visitors to this location are in for a special treat since the last rays of light will stream right through the arch and produce the most breathtaking sights.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
This is the perfect place to explore the coastal redwoods and the waterfalls of the Big Sur. While you’re at the park you’ll experience the most photographed views in all California with a 360 degrees angle of the mountains, ocean, tress and the coastline.
There are some hiking trails that you can follow in order to view the redwoods forest from the high atop cliffs. If you’re really lucky and you find yourself there in the right season you might even spot grey whales migrating along the coast.
If we’re already talking about Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, then McWay Falls lies within the Park. McWay is a small, yet, powerful waterfall that cascades directly into the sea.
It can be reached by taking the footbridge trail leading to an overlook area where you’ll be able to catch incredible views of the waterfall. From this angle, you’ll appreciate just how immense and powerful the falls are, as it looks as if water will never cease streaming down from above. As part of McWay Cove, you can also see a variety of different wildlife in its emerald coastline waters.
If we’re talking about Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, then you can find the cove just 2 miles northern to the park. Partington Cove, located off of Highway 1 in California, is a popular destination for hikers. This trailhead begins with a steep downhill hike along a forest road before you reach the historic tunnel.
After exiting the tunnel, you will see tranquil waters and stunning views of the coastal canyon route to the ocean. So if you’re looking for a unique adventure in nature, be sure to add Partington Cove to your travel itinerary!
Limekiln State Park
A wonderful highlight and one that makes the drive to the Big Sur worth it. Located within Los Padres National Forest, this enormous park offers a glimpse of the Santa Lucia range as it meets the beautiful ocean.
Home to three historic lime kilns, as well as stands of redwood forests and breathtaking waterfalls, Limekiln has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. Hikers, picnickers, campers – all can enjoy exploring this awe-inspiring park with its craggy shoreline where rugged waves crash against the rocks.
If you’re coming from the south to the north, then it’s probably going to be your first stop on this Big Sur road trip. Generally, it’s a great first view to look for and to understand what you’re up to, like the whole trip it’s all about the great mountain beaches.
There is also the great Ragged Point Inn Resort that offers a gourmet restaurant, coffee bar, and beautiful places to stay the night. In general, it’s a great place to stay if you want to take your Big Sur road trip slowly and really absorb the experience.
How Much Time To Travel In The Big Sur
You could easily devote several weeks to your Big Sur Road Trip because there is so much to do in this gorgeous region of California. Every worthwhile location to visit on a Big Sur Itinerary is conveniently adjacent to one another. We love to plan your trip so we trust our list of Big Sur itineraries has helped you plan the ideal route!
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