The hidden gem of California is Big Sur!
It rests along Highway 1 between Carmel and Cambria [outskirts of LA], and is absolutely beautiful. Beaches, mountain ranges, and State Parks are cozied along the cliff-plunging shorelines.
If you are making your way to Big Sur, I have the ultimate guide on all things lodging, food, and activities!
If you enjoy glamping (glamour camping) you will thoroughly enjoy Glen Oaks. I stayed there for two nights and loved every second! There are rooms at the inn or individual cabins. The River View cabin is my personal favorite, which is placed strategically for maximum comfort, ideal isolation, and endless fun. I can not think of one thing I did not like.
The cost per night is quite pricey, however, it is 100% worth it. An example, I didn't do the dishes one afternoon and decided to do it after dinner, but when I came back, the house lady had done them for me! What a treat! Did I mention heated bathroom floors?
Each cabin has super unique outdoor fireplace to make s'mores! If you forget s'mores supplies, they have some in the kitchen. We couldn't find matches our first night, so on the second night, they had matches waiting for us. Again, another note they made to better our stay!
The rooms were amazing, the comfort was there, and the vacation was unbelievable. If you have the budget, Glen Oaks is worth every cent!
If you are thinking about camping, my personal favorite is Limekiln State Park. There are places to camp in redwoods, next to a creek, or on the beach. Plus, tons of hiking spots, great history to that area, and hot showers for free! For $25 a night, it is the best spot I have camped on the coastline.
After an easy mile long hike full of natural water pools, dip into the pool below the waterfall!
Now for my favorite restaurant!
Want an amazing meal with an unbelievably stunning view at a reasonable price? Go to Nepenthe Restaurant and order the Famous Ambroisaburger! The view was amazing, the burger was mouthwatering, and the atmosphere was exquisite! During every bite of that burger was the thought of how lucky I am to be eating this impeccably delicious burger. Wear warm attire - it can be very windy at the top. Don't forget your camera!
The restaurant is architecturally unique, and at the bottom level is a gift store called the Phoenix. Quirky gifts, odd books, and interesting household items are all waiting for you in the Phoenix! Check out that floating faucet in the picture!
Don't be hesitant to ask the workers about the history of the shop, it is quite fascinating!
Feeling like a cafe? Visit the Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe! [Sadly they don't have a website] Visitors first walk through a fabulous gallery full of art, and the strategically set-up layout allows you to browse a variety of themes in the art before you make your way up to the cafe. Some of the art is really quite spectacular! Again, with a view like that, try to sit outside or by the windows next to the view!
The Redwood Grill has a family friendly vibe to the restaurant. When we went around 5pm, there were about thirty customers and two workers - one waitress and one bartender. However, the wait wasn't as long as expected and the food was incredibly satisfying and filling! I ordered the Salmon and Chips [below] and I was stuffed! My only complaint is that our water came out really late even after asking, and the water cups were dirty! I still had someone elses' lipstick on mine! They gave me a new water glass though. Budget Friendly Restaurant with a large screen TV, board games, karaoke nights, and a convenient store attached to the restaurant!
I didn't get to visit all the restaurants, so other great places to eat are:
- Big Sur Bakery [a morning bakery and evening restaurant that books out pretty fast, so reserve a spot early]
- Big Sur Restaurant at the River Inn Big Sur [nested in the woods by a creek and has Wifi]
- Lucia Lodge Restaurant [if you are camping at Limekiln or in southern Big Sur, this is the place to eat - delicious with a great view! Great coffee too!]
- Ventana Inn Restaurant [beautiful lodging, beautiful restaurant, beautiful location!]
Most of you come to Big Sur for hiking or a beach trip! Why not combine both?
The Partington Cove is great! The only indication is a metal gate in a cove on Highway one - but drive about 2-3 miles south of the Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe and it should be there!
There is a fork in the path near the beach - the left to the tunnel [as seen above] and the right to a rocky beach. The beach has stone 'towers' that people built, like leaving your mark, so build your own! [Video note: I bought a new DSLR camera the day before going to Big Sur, so pardon the lack of skills in the video. I will improve with time!]
Next stop is Pfeiffer Beach! It is quite difficult to find, but the road to the beach is after the Big Sur Bakery and before Ventana Inn. The road is on the right side with about 5 mailboxes and a sign saying "Narrow Road" with a really sharp turn. If you turn and there is a sign saying "2 miles", you are on the right road!
Don't forget to pet or feed the horses when you drive by! They are very friendly and will come over if you walk towards the fence. The beach itself is very sandy, with the infamous gigantic rock and the peep hole in it.
An amazing beach is Sand Dollar Beach, just 9 miles south of Lucia and 7 miles south of Limekiln State Park. Great for surfing, perfect for playing beach volleyball, and a prime beach for catching some sun!
Some key things to remember about Big Sur:
- The weather can easily change, so bring attire for ALL seasons!
- Bring a camera!
- There are many pullouts with random trails to a cliff or beach, exploring those alone will show you the natural beauty of Big Sur. [see picture below]
- Everything is slightly more expensive in Big Sur, but it is all worth it.
- If hiking, keep an eye out for snakes! Mountain lions are rare, but they do live there as well. I always carry heavy just in case something happens, plus more weight is a better workout!
- Enjoy yourself, have no stress, you are on vacation!
Hope this guide helped! Do you have any other fabulous places that I missed? Let me know!