Price From $99
As Highway 1 approaches San Simeon, the cliffs of Big Sur mellow into rolling hills and low bluffs—an ideal setting for the oceanfront fire pits at the Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort. The 90 rooms, spread out among five 2-story buildings, share three fire pits, outdoor heated pools, and a hot tub. The property's story is a testament to the area's allure. In 1959, Harris Victor, a butcher in Tacoma, Wash., took his family on a road trip along the California coast. When he noticed all the tourists heading to Hearst Castle, he decided to open a motel—and bought property within the week. "It was quite a surprise," says his daughter, Barbara Hanchett. "We never went back to Tacoma." Harris eventually sold that motel and opened this one, now run by Barbara and her husband, Michael. The family oversaw an extensive renovation of the rooms three years ago; some now boast two-person soaking tubs. All the rooms with views have binoculars for bird-watching—but you don't need anything except your ears to hear the churning waves.