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  • Big Sur, California
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    Big Sur,

    California

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    Big Sur ['bɪg ˈsɝ] is a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of California between Carmel and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery. Big Sur has been called the "longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States", a sublime "national treasure that demands extraordinary procedures to protect it from development", and "one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, mythic in reputation". The views, redwood forests, hiking, beaches, and other recreational opportunities have made Big Sur a popular destination for about 7 million people who live within a day's drive and visitors from across the world. It is among the top 35 tourist destinations world-wide. The region receives about the same number of visitors as Yosemite National Park, but offers only limited bus service, few restrooms, and a narrow two-lane highway that for most of its length clings to the steep coastal cliffs. North-bound traffic during the peak summer season and holiday weekends is often backed up for about 20 miles (32 km) from Big Sur Village to Carmel Highlands. Due to the large number of visitors, congestion and slow traffic between Carmel and Posts is becoming the norm.The region is often confused with an unincorporated village, a collection of small roadside businesses and homes, also known as Big Sur.: 2  The larger region known as Big Sur does not have specific boundaries, but is generally considered to include the 71-mile (114 km) segment of California State Route 1 between Malpaso Creek near Carmel Highlands in the north and San Carpóforo Creek near San Simeon in the south, as well as the entire Santa Lucia range between these creeks. The interior region is mostly uninhabited, while the coast remains relatively isolated and sparsely populated, with between 1,800 and 2,000 year-round residents and relatively few visitor accommodations scattered among four small settlements. The region remained one of the most inaccessible areas of California and the entire United States until, after 18 years of construction, the Carmel–San Simeon Highway (now signed as part of State Route 1) was completed in 1937. Along with the ocean views, this winding, narrow road, often cut into the face of towering seaside cliffs, dominates the visitor's experience of Big Sur. The highway has been closed more than 55 times by landslides, and in May 2017, a 2,000,000-cubic-foot (57,000 m3) slide blocked the highway at Mud Creek, north of Salmon Creek near the San Luis Obispo County line, to just south of Gorda. The road was reopened on July 18, 2018. The region is protected by the Big Sur Local Coastal Plan, which preserves it as "open space, a small residential community, and agricultural ranching." Approved in 1986, the plan is one of the most restrictive local-use programs in the state, and is widely regarded as one of the most restrictive documents of its kind anywhere. The program protects viewsheds from the highway and many vantage points, and severely restricts the density of development. About 60% of the coastal region is owned by governmental or private agencies which do not allow any development. The majority of the interior region is part of the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness or Fort Hunter Liggett.
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    Big Sur Articles

    Inspiration

    Spend some time on the sand watching these beach web cams

    With beachside vacations being put on hold with coronavirus-related closures, there’s an alternative way to access sand and surf – right from your screen. Across United States, the nation’s beaches are being represented on screen from coast to coast. Embrace these picturesque views across the United States through these web cams. In California, view Doran Beach in Bodega Bay’s Doran National Park in Sonoma County beach. Torrance Beach’s webcam captures this 1.5 mile stretch of sand. Meanwhile in Monterey County, the Tickle Pink Inn in Carmel keeps a camera’s eye on the Big Sur Coastline. In San Diego, the landmark Hotel del Coronado shows off its sandy scene online. On Visit California’s website, take a 360 degree VR experience along California’s North Coast Beaches; catch more of the Golden State’s beaches through LiveBeaches.com. Wisconsin’s Madeline Island, the largest of the state’s Apostle Islands, is home to the two-mile Big Bay Beach along with Big Bay State Park. In South Carolina, see different parts of Myrtle Beach through this EarthCam plus Edisto Beach on Edisto Island can be seen through video too. In Virginia Beach, view various filming angles of this coastal city, including its boardwalk, along with the waterside community of Sandbridge. The Wildwoods, NJ lights up with nine cameras throughout this five-mile island capturing its boardwalks and beaches. Also, find different feeds of the Jersey Shore beaches, from Asbury Park to Atlantic City and Cape May. Other Jersey beaches range from Jenkinson’s Point Pleasant Beach to Bay Head. Long Island, New York has live cameras on locations, including Long Beach, with its 2.2-mile boardwalk; Main Beach in East Hampton; Coopers Beach in Southampton; and Fire Island. Florida has their beaches covered and can be seen through the Visit Florida website. However, their respective regions are also showing their sand off. Paradise Coast is experiencing cameras across Naples and Marco Island, while The Palm Beaches have their eight beach cams collectively on one website; Florida Keys and Key West have a wide variety of water and beach view web cams. Also in Florida, South Walton is streaming Alys Beach and Grayton Beach and Grayton Dunes in Grayton Beach State Park. Pensacola Beach can be screened with east, west and south views. St. Pete/Clearwater through four live beach webcams of Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and two different views of St. Pete Beach. Or check out Miami's sand scene with these beach cams.

    Adventure

    California Glamping From $92/Night

    With such an incredible variety of landscapes, California is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. But what if you just don't like to tough out chilly nights in a sleeping bag on the ground? We've rounded up five of the best glamping sites for the perfect combination of the great outdoors and a good night's sleep. 1. Caravan Outpost, Ojai The hip little oasis of Ojai, just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and nestled amid lush, green hills, has a fittingly cool, chilled out glampsite. The 11 vintage airstreams at Caravan Outpost sit in a lovely garden space and are fully decked out – they even include their own record players. A community fire pit beckons friendly gatherings where you can exchange stories of your favorite cycling trail or surf spot and enjoy the famous pink-hour where the sunset adds a magical hue to the atmosphere. Best for: City break Cost: $179/night 2. Costanoa, Pescadero The family-friendly Costanoa resort in Pescadero has everything from luxury suites to camp sites for your own tent. However, glamping in the tent bungalows provides the perfect combination of outdoorsy and comfort. The fire pits are the perfect place to roast marshmallows after a day of hiking, sea kayaking, biking, or horseback riding, and the lush beds are exactly what your body needs to rest up for the next day's adventures. Best for: Families Cost: From $92/night 3. Ventana, Big Sur The epitome of luxury camping is a fully decked-out safari tent nestled on the forest floor beneath towering redwoods – this is glamping at its finest. The babbling stream and gently rustling leaves lull you to relaxation as you dose under your heated blanket. The tents have hot and cold running water, which is amazing while camping, but there is also a tap that spits out tea-ready water, perfect to brew a cup to wrap your hands around while you sit back in your Adirondack chair around a fire. The rest of the Ventana resort has a luxury spa, swimming pools and a fabulous restaurant to enjoy up on the cliff overlooking Big Sur's stunning coastline. Best for: Romantic getaway Cost: From $225/night 4. Dome in the Desert, Joshua Tree While this isn't a tent, we think a tiny wood dome in the desert counts as glamping. And if stargazing in Joshua Tree isn't on your bucket list yet, it should be. Staying in this bohemian geo-dome just a short drive from town takes contemplating the cosmos to a whole new level. The dome is equipped with personal telescopes to get up close and personal with the solar system from the comfort of your two-room abode – there's even a glass panel in the roof. Go in the spring when the wildflowers carpet the area in brilliant violet and yellow. Pro-tip: do the 20-minute drive to Joshua Tree National Park at sunset for the best views and to avoid the crowds. Best for: Stargazing Cost: $406/two nights 5. Half Dome Village, Yosemite National Park It's unlikely you will find a view to wake up to that is more spectacular than being greeted with Yosemite's impossibly huge sheets of rock face. It's nothing short of life changing. While these tents are a bit more rustic than the other glamping sites on our list (there is just a simple camp bed inside), the jaw-dropping location more than makes up for the lack of creature comforts. These well-appointed tents in Half-Dome Village, right at the heart of Yosemite National Park, are the perfect landing spot for exploring the many wonders of the park. Best For: Adventure Cost: $133/night Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with Lonely Planet's weekly newsletter.

    News

    Travel News: California’s Epic Highway 1 Whale Trail, An Easy Way to Book Rail Europe Tickets, and NYC’s Off-Broadway Week

    From a new way to enjoy California’s legendary Highway 1 to a convenient tool for booking city-to-city train travel in Europe to NYC’s lesser-known theatrical offerings at a deep discount, this week’s travel news is all about surprising new ways to get out there and see more for less. California’s Epic Highway 1 Whale Trail A drive up or down Highway 1 along California’s Central Coast is a great vacation idea any time of year. With its epic views of the Pacific Ocean, charming communities you haven't visited yet, and gorgeous inland mountains and forests, the stretch of road from Big Sur down to Santa Barbara is pinch-me beautiful. But this time of year, especially now through the end of February, there’s an additional reason to love Highway 1: The self-guided Whale Trail. As you drive by one of America’s most important protected marine environments, keep an eye out for 34 species of marine mammals, including migrating gray whales, orcas, humpacks, and blue whales, not to mention the seals and sea otters often spotted year-round frolicking among the rocks offshore. The official Whale Trail is a series of sites ideal for pulling your car over and looking for marine life from shore—be sure to pack your binoculars, camera or smartphone, and a sense of wonder. Learn more at highway1discoveryroute.com. An Easy Way to Book Rail Europe Tickets Have you tried the tech-forward mobile booking platform Klook yet? The quirky moniker comes from the phrase “keep looking,” and the company has generated some positive buzz among travelers who like to book their trips via mobile devices and who value last-minute options, skip-the-line privileges at popular points of interest, and overall one-stop shopping. Now, Klook is partnering with Rail Europe, the leading distributor of European railroad products encompassing more than 50 train lines across the continent. Planning a European trip in 2019? You can give Klook’s new point-to-point booking site a try to obtain e-tickets or printed tickets delivered free by mail, seat reservations, and rail passes (klook.com). NYC’s Off-Broadway Week Budget Travel’s editors are based in New York City, and we know first-hand that there’s a wide world of exceptional theater happening beyond Broadway. A good way to explore cutting-edge theater at a price that’s right, NYC Off-Broadway Week offers two-for-one tickets for performances from February 11 through 24 (yes, that’s more than one week, speaking of extra value). Visit nycgo.com/offbroadwayweek to nab discounted tickets to one (or more) of more than 30 plays and musicals, including family-friendly plays, revivals of classic musicals, magic shows, and comedy. Productions include Avenue Q, Colin Quinn’s Red State Blue State, Drunk Shakespeare, The Play That Goes Wrong, and many more.

    Road TripsBudget Travel Lists

    5 Perfect U.S. Road Trips

    Fire up your GPS and start your engines! Every corner of the U.S. delivers amazing road trip opportunities, from parkland to scenic byways to vibrant towns and cities along the way. Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite epic drives from sea to shining sea. Your only remaining challenge is to pick your favorite trip and hit the road. BEST OF THE WEST: CALIFORNIA’S HIGHWAY 1 (Jonas Weinitschke/Dreamstime) Pick any stretch of Highway 1 along the California coast and you’ll be treated to epic views and great stops along the way. But perhaps the most iconic portion of the route is the drive between the San Francisco Bay Area and San Simeon. While the drive can be accomplished in just a few hours, we recommend you plan affordable stops along the way: A motel stay in Santa Cruz, at the top of Monterey puts you walking distance to the beautiful beach and fun-for-the-entire-family boardwalk. A day or two in the city of Monterey gives you time to explore the coastal walking trail with its jaw-dropping views of the gorgeous blue waters of the bay and playful sea otters, a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and several world-class meals of fresh crab, sourdough bread, and other California favorites. Continue down Highway 1 for the star attraction, the winding drive along the cliffs of Big Sur, towering over the Pacific, and stop at Pfeiffer State Beach or a walk in the mountains just to the east of the highway. Your Highway 1 road trip can end at San Simeon, home to the incredible estate built by William Randolph Hearst with its truly amazing art collection and grounds. Or keep driving south for the delights of coastal communities such as San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and the renowned beaches and cities of Southern California! ROAD TRIP TIP: Before leaving home, make sure you have the appropriate auto insurance policy for your vehicle and needs. A visit to Geico.com can help you understand your options and potential savings. SOUTHERN CHARM: BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY You don’t have to choose between a big-city culture and the natural beauty of a national park. The Blue Ridge Parkway allows road trippers to enjoy Washington, D.C., with its free museums, historical sites, and cultural offerings, then head to Virginia’s Skyline Drive along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which turns into the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of FDR’s New Deal projects, linking Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee. The parkway’s hairpin turns and epic tunnels will delight every family member, and a manageable, affordable national park experience is unforgettable, with ranger-led walks and talks, serene hiking trails, and the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife, including black bears, from a safe distance. More adventurous travelers may want to try rock climbing and whitewater rafting (with guidance from a local outfitter). Cool towns such as Asheville, NC, deliver tasty Southern cuisine, and you can balance the great outdoors experience of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with fun family-friendly activities in Gatlinburg, TN. While camping is always the most affordable way to visit a national park, reasonable lodging is available a short drive from both Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. ROAD TRIP TIP: Get your car inspected before embarking on your drive. Proper tire pressure and engine tune-up can save you money on gas mileage, and having up-to-date safety and security devices may even reduce your auto insurance rates. MIDWEST SPLENDOR: DOOR COUNTY, WISCONSIN Can you keep a secret? Door County’s Coastal Byway, a Wisconsin Scenic Byway, delivers an amazing, lesser-known Midwestern vacation experience that keeps families coming back year after year. Stretching over 66 miles around the Door Peninsula (nicknamed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”), this scenic byway and the stops along the way add up to a relaxing and delicious getaway. Situated between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, the Door Peninsula can be explored in a weekend, or you can stretch out your experience (which we heartily recommend) over several days with stays in the region’s beautiful towns. Ephraim, on the shores of Eagle Harbor, boasts beaches and harbor views you may associate only with New England, and a stop at Wilson’s for ice cream is a must. Peninsula State Park is one of those “hidden gems” just waiting to be discovered, with acres of forest, shoreline, and camping facilities. You’ll find great food in the town of Sister Bay, and some pleasant opportunities for quiet family time on the eastern side of the peninsula in Bailey’s Harbor and Jacksonsport. ROAD TRIP TIP: Pack a cooler with fruits and veggies, whole grains, grab-and-go protein like cheese sticks, and plenty of water (when visiting a wilder space such as a national park, a gallon of water per passenger per day is recommended). SOUTHWESTERN PARKS: UTAH’S ‘MIGHTY FIVE’ (Ralf Broskvar/Dreamstime) Did you know that Utah packs five incredible national parks into one state? Whether you hit two, three, four, or all of the “Mighty Five” (Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands), a scenic drive into Utah’s wild spaces is perhaps the ultimate road trip experience. While your GPS may recommend major highways along the way, give yourself permission to explore Scenic Byways such as State Route 12, the 120-mile drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon, and return home with brag-worthy photographs you can’t snap on the Interstate. Once you enter one of Utah’s national parks, hiking will likely be the “main event,” and each park deserves at least a day or two, whether you take ranger-led walks or strike out on your own. Consider trying something new, like a guided horseback tour in Bryce Canyon, and remember that Bryce and Zion both offer exceptional public transportation to get you from site to site. Camping is an affordable way to bunk down in Utah’s parks, but be sure to reserve your spot several months in advance, especially if you’ll be visiting during the summer high season. ROAD TRIP TIP: Don’t count on GPS as your only source of driving directions, especially if you’re visiting a national park or other wild space. Pick up printed maps that cover your road trip and plan out each day’s driving in advance using both GPS and your map - you’ll thank us when your smartphone suddenly says, “No Service.” ULTIMATE NEW ENGLAND: VERMONT & WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS The Green Mountains of Vermont and the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts deliver one of the Northeast’s finest driving experiences, easily reachable from New York, Boston, and other cities. Start in Bennington, VT, where you’ll soon discover that a New England road trip can combine world-class art and culture with natural beauty right outside your car window. The Bennington Museum offers a permanent art collection plus exhibits devoted to contemporary work, and the Grandma Moses gallery lets visitors not only enjoy the work of the iconic American folk artist but also to recognize the nearby Green Mountains as the backdrop of many of her most iconic paintings. Outside Bennington there are ample opportunities for canoeing, hiking, and chowing down on comfort food (and, yes, they serve classic New England clam chowder even as far inland as Vermont). Head to Williamstown, MA, for another incredible art collection, the Clark, and a truly charming small town experience with a vibrant downtown, great shopping, and more. Then it’s off to North Adams, MA, for the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the endless opportunities for exploring the nearby Berkshire Mountains. You can keep busy in western Massachusetts for days, and it’s also a relatively short drive to the beaches of Gloucester, the New Hampshire seacoast, and even the stretch of Maine near the New Hampshire border, but that’s a road trip for another day! ROAD TRIP TIP: No matter what time of year you’re taking your road trip, there are a few packing essentials: Sunscreen (yes, even in winter), sun-protective clothing, plenty of drinking water, layers of clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets), and comfortable walking or hiking shoes.

    Inspiration

    Treehouse Vacations: 3 Awesome & Affordable Destinations

    When you’re planning a vacation, an inspiring view out your hotel window is often high on your list. Well, it turns out there are some lodgings around the U.S. and beyond where that view is extremely inspiring, not to mention extremely high - like, in the treetops. Here, three of our favorite treehouse vacations—all for well under $200/night. 1. BLUE RIDGE TREEHOUSE, BLUE RIDGE, GA As if Blue Ridge, Georgia, weren’t beautiful enough, the Blue Ridge TreeHouse, located at Bear Claw Vineyards, delivers breathtaking views year-round. And autumn may be the best time of all to soak up those gorgeous colors. You’ll stay in a real treehouse - tree trunks are part of the interior design! - and enjoy visiting the vineyards, the nearby cool town of Blue Ridge, and those endless northern Georgia mountain views. (blueridgetreehouse.com) 2. TREEBONES RESORT, BIG SUR, CA Perched high above cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur, California, Treebones Resort, on Highway 1 (which is now completely reopened) offers an array of elevated structures that deliver views of the sea and the stars you’ll never forget. The Human Nest (just what it sounds like) literally gets you up into the trees, and you have to bring your own sleeping bag and, when needed, rain gear. Cushier options include yurts (essentially comfy tents with hotel-style furnishings inside). The property also offers cozy indoor amenities, food at the Wild Coast Restaurant and the Sushi Bar, and lounge chairs for taking in the ocean views. You may even hear the distant cry of sea lions. (treebonesresort.com) 3. BANGKOK TREEHOUSE, THAILAND Treehouse hotels aren’t just for U.S. domestic travelers. One of the best-known in the world is the Bangkok Treehouse, in Thailand, with a dozen elegant elevated bungalows built with sustainable wood and repurposed and recycled materials. You won’t believe you’re in a major metro area, just a short ferry or taxi ride from the city’s river, temples, and iconic skyscrapers. Thailand, though it’s a long flight away, we’ve found that it is affordable and easily navigable for American travelers thanks to reliable public transportation and English-speaking locals. (bangkoktreehouse.com)

    News

    California’s Iconic Highway 1 Is Throwing a Party

    Highway 1, California’s impossibly scenic coast-hugging drive, gets plenty of love from visitors, especially the throngs who hit the central coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But as those visitors gape at the ocean views and pull into scenic overlooks for Instagram-worthy pics, they may not realize that there are ample opportunities to immerse themselves further in the natural beauty, heritage, and marine life along the iconic route. HIGHWAY 1’S ANNUAL CELEBRATION STARTS IN JANUARY The 5th annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration, January 13 through February 28, 2018, gives travelers (and, of course, locals) the chance to explore everything that the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route has to offer, thanks to San Luis Obispo County, the California State Parks, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The celebration focuses on “stewardship travel” experiences such as nature walks, lighthouse tours, garden volunteering, natural history talks, and more that create a more meaningful - and more fun - travel experience, touching on history, heritage, and the natural life of the coast. While the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route offers 50 such experiences year-round, the annual celebration offers even more opportunities to experience the coast as locals do. COASTAL STEWARDSHIP ACTIVITIES FOR 2018 All along the 101 miles of the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route, which links 10 diverse communities from just south of Big Sur to just south of San Luis Obispo (approximately halfway between S.F. and L.A.), activities will include a film festival featuring the incredible undersea documentary Disneynature Oceans at the Hearst Castle, Sharks After Dark at the Central Coast Aquarium, wine tastings at the Pacific Coast Wine Trail’s six tasting rooms, off-roading adventures in the Oceano Dunes, and much more. AFFORDABLE LODGING ON CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL COAST Many local hotels and motels in coastal communities are offering special lodging packages during the Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration. Good deals can also be found at Budget Travel’s Book a Hotel page.

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    More Places to go

    DESTINATION IN California

    Carmel by the Sea

    Carmel-by-the-Sea (), often simply called Carmel, is a city in Monterey County, California, United States, founded in 1902 and incorporated on October 31, 1916. Situated on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. In 1906, the San Francisco Call devoted a full page to the "artists, writers and poets at Carmel-by-the-Sea", and in 1910 it reported that 60 percent of Carmel's houses were built by citizens who were "devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts." Early City Councils were dominated by artists, and several of the city's mayors have been poets or actors, including Herbert Heron, founder of the Forest Theater, bohemian writer and actor Perry Newberry, and actor-director Clint Eastwood. The town is known for being dog-friendly, with numerous hotels, restaurants and retail establishments admitting guests with dogs. Carmel is also known for several unusual laws, including a prohibition on wearing high-heel shoes without a permit, enacted to prevent lawsuits arising from tripping accidents caused by irregular pavement.Carmel-by-the-Sea is located on the Pacific coast, about 330 miles (531 km) north of Los Angeles and 120 miles (193 km) south of San Francisco. Communities near Carmel-by-the-Sea include Carmel Valley and Carmel Highlands. The larger town of Monterey borders Carmel to the north. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 3,722, down from 4,081 at the 2000 census.