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Big Sur is known for spectacular scenic views, serene landscape, and secluded destinations. It is Thomas and my goal to offer the most intimate details about this coastal oasis through our Essential Guide to Big Sur. Through our eyes, you can travel to key photo locations, quintessential Big Sur luxury hotels, and award-winning restaurants, whether you’re planning a one or two night stay, or just passing through. After all, a trip to Big Sur is not about the destination, but about the journey, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
Essential Packing List for Big Sur
Hat- Beanie or Ball Cap/ Boots for exploring (I like to put my Hunter boots to good use)/ Running shoes for activities/ T shirt/ Jeans / Coat/ Knit Sweater/ Backpack & crossbody bag/ Scarf (for misty mornings)/ Sweatshirt / Shorts/ Dress (for dinner)/ Swimsuit– Especially if you are staying at Post Ranch Inn.
Essential Photo Locations in Big Sur
The natural beauty of Big Sur makes it easy to find photo opportunities at every turn. With that said, it is also very easy to get distracted while driving Highway 1, so if you are the driver, please be sure to slow down and focus on the road instead of the view. Allow your significant other to evaluate what turn-offs are worth stopping for.
Bixby Bridge – The historic Bixby Bridge was built in 1932, and connects Carmel to the rest of Big Sur. It’s also one of the most famous spots along Highway 1.
To arrive at Thomas and my favorite angle, turn left, just before the bridge if you are headed south. If you are headed north, turn right, immediately after the bridge. This will take you to a road that goes up into the mountains. Follow the road just a little ways and look for parking. You should be perfectly angled so that you can shoot out towards the ocean and the bridge.
McWay Falls – This beautiful, ethereal waterfall never stops raining down onto the untouched beach below and can be enjoyed year round. It is also an ideal location to experience a magnificent sunset view.
Pfeiffer Beach – In order to capture amazing photos of this iconic purple beach and rock formation, schedule your arrival time around sunset. Be forewarned, however, that, although Thomas and I did see some “purple” sand, it was nothing like the photos we had seen on social media, indicating that either the lighting was a large factor in creating the purple color, or the pictures were heavily enhanced through photo editing.
Essential Places to Stay in Big Sur – Thomas and I just recently stayed in Big Sur for the very first time. We stayed at Post Ranch Inn and absolutely fell in love with the modern yet rustic architecture that blended in so well with the natural environment. Two other Big Sur hotel properties that come highly recommended are Ventana, which offers high-end cabin-like charm, and Treebones Resort, which is known for its “glamping”, combining lodge-styled Yurts with an upscale camping experience.
Post Ranch Inn– What can we say about Post Ranch Inn other than it just took our breath away! Everything was so gorgeous in a very humble way. And, though it may be a more pricey choice, it is more than worth it. The infinity-styled hot tubs with 180-degree views of the ocean will amaze you. And the food, especially the breakfast buffet, is divine.
Essential Places to Eat in Big Sur – Thomas and I ventured out to explore Big Sur and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Big Sur Bakery. We were also told to visit The Nepenthe for wonderful home-style food and whimsical tales!
Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn – The Sierra Mar is the Post Ranch Inn’s award-winning restaurant that not only features exquisite displays of culinary delights, but includes organic ingredients grown right on the property, which Thomas and I most enjoyed! The views from the dining area are unsurpassed, with floor to ceiling windows that bring the ocean view right to you!
As if Big Sur isn’t amazing on it’s own, if you continue to travel on Highway 1, past Big Sur, you will end-up in Carmel if heading North or San Simeon, where the famous Hearst Castle is located, if heading South. So, when planning a Big Sur getaway, you may want to add-on a day or two in order to experience everything this magnificent stretch of the California coastline has to offer!
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