The area of California known as Big Sur is 90 miles of pure coastal bliss. The wind-whipped shore is lined with jaw-dropping vistas, each more lovely than the last. Groves of towering redwoods abut rocky ocean cliffs where 80-foot-tall waterfalls plunge from the forest to the white-capped Pacific below. While this stretch of Highway 1 is exceptionally popular with road trippers passing through, Big Sur‘s epic-scale grandeur will make you want to linger a little longer.
Many travelers choose to stay in a nearby Central Coast city. Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey to the north or San Simeon and Cambria to the south all have a variety of accommodations near restaurants and shops. But staying within the Big Sur region itself has its get-away-from-it-all benefits, with everything from luxury bucket-list retreats to stunning campsites to choose from.
Resorts in Big Sur
Forest bathe in understated splendor at Alila Ventana Big Sur, where you can stay in a luxury villa with a fireplace and private balcony or sleep among the redwoods in a canvas glamping tent. Unwind with daily yoga classes or take a dip in the clothing-optional pool.
The 39-room Post Ranch Inn offers peaceful seclusion by way of reclaimed redwood suites perched on ocean cliffs, and its in-room balconies and outdoor hot tubs suspend seemingly in mid-air. The acclaimed on-site Sierra Mar serves inspired garden-to-table cuisine with glass-walled panoramic views.
Ragged Point Inn and Resort is located in Big Sur’s southern gateway. Choose from ocean- or garden-view rooms and spend your days strolling through the resort’s manicured gardens or hiking down Black Swift Falls Trail to a private beach. Find solace in a yurt (or a human-sized nest made of twisting branches) at Treebones Resort. This unusual eco-lodge offers guests personalized massages and an on-site omakase experience, crafted by sushi chef Yancy Knapp.
Lodges and Private Cabins in Big Sur
Big Sur is also home to a handful of charming, understated lodges that combine cozy stays with easy access to nature. Glen Oaks Big Sur offers a mix of rooms, cottages, and cabins in the middle of a redwood grove. Sleek touches include outdoor clawfoot tubs, showers paved with river rock, and cowhide ottomans. The laid-back Big Sur River Inn has been delighting guests since 1934 and maintains its old-time vibe with Adirondack chairs plopped directly in the river, inviting guests to take a soak. Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn features similar “Big Sur–style” lodging. Guests can stay in a renovated hayloft, refurbished antique store, or Grandpa Deetjen’s former room, which includes access to his vinyl collection.
Also near the river, find meadow-view and forest cabins at Fernwood Resort, cottages with in-room fireplaces at Big Sur Lodge, and 17 cabins with firepits and access to a sandy freshwater beach at Ripplewood Resort. For a more rustic stay, Big Sur Campground and Riverside Campground are off-the-grid getaways that include comfortable cabins and traditional campsites, too.
Tent Camping Spots in Big Sur
Let Mother Nature provide her own accommodations at one of Big Sur’s majestic (and highly coveted) campgrounds. Sleep under the stars inside of a 40-acre redwood canyon at Ventana Campground. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park lets travelers reserve a single cabin as well as nearly 200 tent, RV-friendly, and hike-and-bike sites alongside the Big Sur River.
If you’re willing to work for it, more secluded getaways are only a hike away. Ascend the steep three-mile Boronda Trail to find sweeping views of the rolling hills and roaring ocean at Timber Top Camp. Take a 10-mile trek from Big Sur Station through the Ventana Wilderness to access Sykes Camp. You’ll be rewarded with your choice of three naturally occurring hot springs along the way where you can soak your sore muscles after setting up camp.