“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Big Sur is having a big moment. This isn’t anything new to Big Sur, however. Every decade or so there is a collective resurgence of awe and appreciation for Big Sur that blankets over the country like the fog that cloaks this stretch of coastline.
It’s easy to see why. This 90 mile crease between the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean doesn’t look anything like its neighbors to the south or to the north. Los Angeles might as well be on Malta and San Francisco is just Park Place in Monopoly these days.
Big Sur stands alone in that it cooly straddles polarizing territories figuratively and literally: at once being both elusive and mythical while also being at the center of it all geographically.
Glen Oaks – this is the perfect “middle of the road” option in Big Sur. it’s not camping and it’s not Post Ranch. they have fun outdoor fireplaces and heated floors. mmmmm. opt for one of the cabins over the main building; the Redwood River View Cabin is my pick.
Post Ranch Inn – architecturally stunning, world class views and top-notch service. Post Ranch Inn is truly one of a kind, with room rates to match. be warned it is very “couple-y” as most people are celebrating anniversaries, honeymoons etc. it’s probably the last place you’d like to be if you’re single. or with a parent.
Treebones Yurts – by now we’ve all heard of glamping and yurting. Treebones wrote the book on glamping in these parts. these yurts book up far in advance, so some planning is definitely involved if you want to spend a night in a yurt at Treebones. however, they do post last minute openings on Twitter. stop by their outdoor bar (pictured above) if you just want a drink or bite with a Pacific view.
Big Sur Bakery + Restaurant – the uncontested best restaurant in Big Sur, in my opinion (and many others’). their glorious wood-burning oven cranks out rustic breads, pizzas and other delicious seasonal dishes that change nightly. and you know what goes great with exceptional pizza? exceptional local Pinot. make a reservation if you’re planning to go for dinner.
Nepenthe – no disrespect to Ms Nepenthe but you’re not coming here for the food. it’s all about what surrounds this restaurant that sits insulated by nature on almost every side. the views transcend description, especially during sunset. the people watching here is also something to marvel. ALL walks of life.
Deetjen’s Restaurant – quintessentially Big Sur, this is a cozy restaurant belongs to the Deetjen’s Inn, which was founded in the 1930s and is on the National Register of Historic Places. similarly to the Big Sur Bakery, Deetjen’s Restaurant sticks to what is local, organic and in season.
Big Sur Roadhouse – a new-ish spot across the street from its “parents”, Glen Oaks, this Roadhouse has a lot of indoor and outdoor seating, especially by Big Sur’s standards.
Sierra Mar – ok maybe this is the uncontested “best” restaurant in Big Sur. you wouldn’t be alone if you eschewed staying at Post Ranch in favor of having a blow out meal instead.
McWay Falls – miss this and the compulsory Instagram and it’s like you didn’t go to Big Sur at all. this is the image that comes to everyone’s mind when they think of Big Sur. so, don’t miss it.
Esalen Late Night Hot Springs – a somewhat weird but entirely awesome experience that kicks off at midnight and midnight only. dip into hot springs in the dark with a bunch of strangers. it’s smelly but worth it. be prepared for the hike back up the mountainous driveway at 3am.
Pfeiffer Beach – get out of the car and explore. hike, wander, dip, skip, scatter, explore. after all, that’s why you’re out here in nature.
Bixby Bridge – classic photo op destination #2 but manmade photo op #1, this bridge is what connects Carmel to Big Sur. if you’re heading south, turn left just before the bridge; if you are headed north, turn right immediately after the bridge. after parking, you’ll land at the perfect angel to shoot the bridge and the ocean in the background.
Henry Miller Memorial Library – lovingly referred to as the “beating cultural heart” of Big Sur, this place is much more than your average library. because let’s be honest, if it was basic it wouldn’t be listed here. check out their events page before you go – there’s always something coming up like concerts, hoedowns (YES), book readings and screenings.