A retreat for artists and writers since the early 1900s, the Big Sur region along California’s central coast stretches about 90 miles, from Carmel to San Simeon. As you fly in a private chartered jet to the Monterey Regional Airport, you’ll see how the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific, giving the coastline its iconic cliffs and stunning views. Once catering to adventurous travelers, Big Sur is accessible to all thanks to scenic Highway 1.
Post Ranch Inn
Set high above the waves, the Post Ranch Inn is an elite getaway that features environmentally friendly architecture that seamlessly blends into the forest. Choose between an ocean or mountain view, or enjoy total seclusion in one of the private houses. The property’s Sierra Mar restaurant is one of the top-rated in the area.
Ventana Inn & Spa
Set on 243 acres, Ventana is a more rustic-style resort with rooms covered in redwood floors, wood-burning fireplaces, and a range of amenities, including yoga and pilates classes, guided walks, and wine and cheese receptions. Take advantage of the property’s sun decks and bathhouses, some of which are clothing-optional. You’ll love the sunset view from Cielo, the onsite restaurant.
If you want to rough-it a bit, but not get your hands too dirty, the Treebones Resort offers the ultimate glamping experience. Located about 30 minutes north of Hearst Castle, Treebones will remind your of an upscale summer camp with its spacious ocean-view yurts that boast wrap-around porches and Adirondack chairs, but no restrooms or showers (these facilities are inside the lodge). If you seek modern comforts, ask if the guesthouse with a kitchen and en suite bathroom is available.
The Restaurant at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn
A bed and breakfast-like establishment, Deetjen’s restaurant is one of the more unique experiences in Big Sur. Set in a sun-streaked converted barn, the English-style restaurant will remind you of a country inn with its quaint décor. Enjoy a big plate of blueberry pancakes or huevos rancheros for breakfast, or partake in a romantic candlelit meal for dinner.
Located on Highway 1, Nepenthe is a Big Sur staple where artists flock to dine. The restaurant’s mountainside address give diners some of the best views in the region, which they enjoy even more when the weather warms and outdoor seating becomes available. Try the Ambrosia Burger and the Three-Berry Pie a la mode.
Big Sur Bakery and Café
When you want a scrumptious bite, do as the locals do—head to the Big Sur Bakery. Located in a converted ranch house, the bakery serves three meals a day using local ingredients with the richest flavors. There is no “fast food” here, as this is where you come to slow down.
Big Sur is home to nine state parks and two federal wilderness areas, giving you many opportunities to hike, climb mountains, hang-glide and ride bikes. If you like rock-hounding or anything that sparkles, head to Jade Cove in the morning and take the steep trail down to the beach to get your hands on nephrite jade.
Point Sur Lighthouse
The Point Sur Lighthouse in Point Sur State Historic Park is an operational lighthouse that still helps sailor navigate with its bright light and thunderous foghorn. The lighthouse is the only complete turn-of-the-20th-century lightstation in the state that is open to the public.
Tidefalls are waterfalls that are close to the ocean. In Big Sur, McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is one of the few waterfalls in the country that empties into the oceans. Whille McWay Falls is visible from Highway 1, the ultimate way to view it is from a boat or helicopter.