A Perfect, Picturesque Weekend Drive Through California's Big Sur
Big Sur is as rich in history as it is in beauty. This stretch of central California coast—where the Santa Lucia Mountains emerge from the Pacific Ocean—has been the subject of many of America’s great writers, painters, and musicians. Henry Miller, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jack Kerouac all called Big Sur home and created some of their best known work there.
Related: T+L’s Guide to Big Sur Hotels
For a large part of history, the area was mostly hard to reach. After the construction of Highway 1, accessibility increased while strict zoning and constructions laws continued to preserve much of the original quietude and charm. It's well worth the trip: Restaurants like Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, The Big Sur Bakery, and Nepenthe offer wonderful food, charming decor, and stunning scenery, while the surrounding areas offer ample opportunity for the most picturesque of picnics and beach walks. Highly recommended for: families, romantic trips, and solitary soul-searching.
Sycamore Canyon Road
As you drive along Highway 1, split off onto Sycamore Canyon Road, seduced by the sights and smell of Pfeiffer Beach. The water flows between large rock formations barely removed from a beach worth strolling.
Big Sur Rock Climbing
Pro tip: When the tide is low some of the rock formations are reachable by foot. The live like tiny islands in the stream, barely removed from the uniquely purple sand of the beach.
Big Sur Sunset
Come golden hour, seek out a place on higher ground and wait for the sun to set. The sky will be painted in layers of color, providing a perfect backdrop to reminisce on the day's sights.
Make your way to one of the highest points of the coast to watch the back and forth of the current as it crashes into the rocky shore with both elegance and immense power in a neverending dance.
Pfeiffer Beach’s most interesting sight is perhaps the large rock formation with an arch shading the current as it flows through.
Those who get up early enough to make it to the beach before dawn will be rewarded with perfectly mirrored skies in one of the beach's many tide pools.
Big Sur Sunrise
Take a minute from the tide pools and spot the sun rising through the trees, announcing yet another beautiful day in Big Sur as you make your way back to our car en route to new adventures.
As you head out, pass the famous Bixby Bridge—originally built to provide safe passage during the winter months when inland roads turned treacherous. Once we reach the highest part of Point Sur, we look North and see the inland streams of eb and flow.
Point Sur Lighthouse
The walk up to the Point Sur Lighthouse takes three hours, which is well worth it. A guide will accompany you and talk ship wrecks, trade history, and vantage points. When you reach the top, step into the lighthouse and enjoy a spectacular view.
Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn is an institution in the area, offering meals as spectacular as the lodging. A most charming courtyard is home to a fantastic breakfast for passers-by and guests alike (highly recommended).
If there’s time for a roadside picnic, it can be an excellent alternative to one of the local restaurants. The views don’t get much better—grab a blanket, snacks, and a beverage, and find your way to your favorite backdrop.
Henry Miller Library
Make sure to stop by the fabled Henry Miller Library, located up the road from Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn and filled with classic American books by all the greats inspired by the surrounding area. Stick around for live music in the garden during summer nights.