With cliffs plunging hundreds of feet down to rocky coves churning with foamy surf, it’s no wonder that many people consider Big Sur the most dramatic stretch of coastline anywhere in the world. But along with its rugged natural beauty, Big Sur is a region with a long artistic history, as well as creative restaurants and unique resorts that let you immerse yourself in this world of fogs, redwood forests, and incomparable coastal views.
Posh meets rustic at the Post Ranch Inn
Commanding the cliffs 1,200 feet above the Pacific, Post Ranch Inn lets you escape from the outside world. Seclude yourself within modern, yet soulful rooms set in architecturally distinctive buildings that blend seamlessly into the natural setting. Marvel at the views as you soak in a stainless steel tub on your balcony, then keep warm by the wood-burning fireplace.
Drive the world’s most awesome coastal highway
Edging the cliffs and twisting through stands of towering redwoods, California Highway 1 is Big Sur’s main drag. Take your time, both to drive safely and for stops at overlooks, where you can watch tendrils of fog drifting into the redwood canyons. There’s also good eating along the way: Stop at the Big Sur River Inn for breakfast classics such as carrot cake French toast, or Big Sur Bakery, where the dinner selection includes gourmet wood-fired pizza.
Catch the good vibes at Nepenthe
For lovers of Big Sur, no visit here is complete without a stop for shopping, dining, and the gorgeous setting at Nepenthe. Nepenthe founders Lolly and Bill Fassett hired Rowen Maiden, who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, to build the landmark redwood and adobe structure you see today. Settle into a seat along the counter on the deck and behold one of Big Sur’s definitive views as you bite into Nepenthe’s iconic ambrosia burger. Then shop at The Phoenix Shop, where you’ll find distinctive clothing and gorgeous jewelry crafted by leading designers.
Hike down to a secluded cove
Bear in mind that what goes down, must come up as you set out on the trail to Partington Cove. At about two miles roundtrip, it’s a short trail but there’s a nearly 300-foot climb back to the trailhead off Highway 1. The route winds its way down slope before you enter a long tunnel carved by Big Sur pioneer John Partington. Go through it and you’ll emerge at the rocky cove, which was once used for shipping logs (and later to smuggle moonshine).
Dine along the edge of the continent
Even if you don’t stay at Post Ranch Inn, its restaurant Sierra Mar offers a taste of this amazing setting. Be sure to make reservations, then savor inventive prix fixe lunch and dinner selections (a favorite is the Wagyu short rib with stone-ground grits) while gazing out over the ocean through floor-to-ceiling windows. On some days, you’ll literally be above the clouds when the fog rolls in.
Also, don't miss…
Check out Limekiln State Park, two miles south of Lucia to see the four abandoned iron-and-stone kilns rising from the forest floor like monuments to some bygone civilization. You can also camp, swim (in Limekiln Creek and at a beach), and spot marine life.