34 Things to do in the Big Sur Area Including Day Trips [NEW 2022]
There are plenty of things to do in the Big Sur area.
Big Sur is a place unlike any other, with its rugged coastline and redwood forests. It’s also the perfect destination for people of all ages.
From those looking for a multi-day adventure to families who want to spend their time hiking, biking, and swimming. Whether you’re looking for a few days of relaxation at an oceanfront hotel.
Or an active vacation filled with hiking trails and outdoor activities. This list of things to do in Big Sur will have you covered!
Is Big Sur Worth Visiting
Yes, absolutely! The coastal towns of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and Pacific Grove are all within a short drive, and there’s plenty to do and see in each of them.
Point Lobos State Reserve, 17-Mile Drive, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are all popular tourist destinations. Big Sur itself is also a beautiful and interesting place to explore, with plenty of hikes and outdoor activities to enjoy.
Where to Stay in Big Sur
Camping in Big Sur
There are several campsites within the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Including the Upper Pfeiffer Falls Campground (the most popular), and the Redwood campground. These two campgrounds are both first-come-first-served. And usually fill up quickly during summer weekends. The third option is to stay at a private campground that allows campfires.
Camping in Big Sur is a special experience. And there are a lot of Big Sur Campground to choose between.
Hotels in Big Sur
Ventana Inn and Spa – The closest hotel to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is Ventana Inn and Spa. Which has an onsite spa offering massages and other treatments. As well as luxurious accommodations including fireplaces and balconies with views of the Pacific Ocean or mountainside meadows.
Post Ranch Inn – This luxury resort includes a fine dining restaurant with panoramic views of Bixby Canyon Bridge. And cabins tucked into redwood groves for guests who want privacy or prefer something more rustic than an upscale hotel room.
Big Sur River Inn – is a must if you’re looking for a place to stay. It’s right on the river and the staff is super helpful. As for things to do, there’s plenty! Hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and just enjoying the incredible views are all great options.
Big Sur Lodge – Head to the Big Sur Lodge for a luxurious stay in the heart of nature. This hotel offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. As well as plenty of activities to enjoy right on sites, such as hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.
Ultimate List of Things to do in the Big Sur Area
The Bixby Bridge is a bridge that crosses the Big Sur River. They built it in 1932 and is a National Historic Landmark. It’s in Big Sur, California.
The Bixby Bridge is one of five bridges along this stretch of Highway 1. It’s also one of two suspension bridges (the other being Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge). The bridge has been featured in many movies. Such as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo. And more recently, films like Transformers: Age Of Extinction and The Tourist starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp (2010). It is easy to find this iconic site. Just plan a trip with Google maps. And head out!
Bixby Creek Bridge is one of the best things to do in the Big Sur area of California.
Los padres national forest
There are plenty of things to do in the Los Padres National Forest. You can go hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming. You can also go horseback riding, mountain biking, and bird watching. It is one of the best things to do in Big Sur. And has some of the most breathtaking landscapes.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a state park in Monterey County, California. It is in the Big Sur region of the Central Coast of California, the United States, south of Monterey, and north of San Luis Obispo. The park covers approximately 1,010 acres and receives just under 100000 visitors annually.
Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground might be one of the best campgrounds as well.
The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which includes Pfeiffer Beach, is a great place to hike, picnic, and birdwatch. There are also plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
Ragged Point is a small community in the Big Sur region of California. It’s on Highway 1, about 10 miles south of Nepenthe Restaurant and about 20 miles north of Lucia. They named the area after the ragged cliffs that surround it, which were formed by landslides during an earthquake in 1925. Today, Ragged Point is best known for its rugged beauty and access to some of the best beaches in California. If you’re looking to get away from it all while spending some time outdoors, this is a great place to visit!
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel: This is the best place to see whales in Big Sur. You can easily spend an entire day exploring Point Lobos. It’s a beautiful place, with hiking trails and beaches that have been preserved since they were first designated in 1909. There are also several historic buildings on the property which are worth exploring. Including a guardhouse and one of the oldest lighthouses in California.
Santa Lucia mountain
Santa Lucia Mountain is a popular place for hiking, wildlife viewing, and watching the sunrise or sunset. The peak provides an excellent view of the Big Sur coast and makes an excellent place to stargaze at night.
Garrapata State Park
Garrapata State Park is a beautiful coastal park with hiking trails, picnic areas, and a campground. While you’re here, check out the famous Pfeiffer Falls Trail. This easy trail leads to the picturesque Pfeiffer Falls and is an excellent choice for families with young children.
If you have more time to spend in Big Sur. Then consider hiking along one of the many trails at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or McKay Falls at Highway 1 in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Partington Cove is a beautiful beach in Big Sur with some of the best swimming, hiking, and relaxing you’ll find on the California coast. The cove is also home to one of the most well-known campgrounds: Andrew Molera State Park.
Henry Miller Memorial Library
You should visit the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of the renowned writer, artist, and thinker.
Near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. And just down the street from Nepenthe Restaurant.
Big Sur Station
Big Sur Station, one of the first buildings in Big Sur, is a classic example of the traditional California style. It is the visitor center and a great place to learn more about the state parks, sightseeing, and experiences that the park offers.
For those looking for the best things to do in the Big Sur parks. And getting the most out of their experiences. And attractions then check out the visitor center.
The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic road that runs along the coast of Big Sur. It’s only open from May through November, and it makes for a perfect day trip if you’re visiting during this period. The drive starts in Carmel and ends in Monterey-a total distance of about 68 miles and can be covered by car or bicycle in just over an hour.
Hearst Castle is another one of California’s most iconic attractions-but it’s tricky to find time for it on top of all the other things you want to see! For example, if your itinerary includes Monterey or Santa Barbara (both less than 2 hrs away). Then this may not make sense as an add-on excursion. Unless there are specific reasons it would appeal to everyone in your group (e.g., someone has family connections here).
Point Sur State Historic Park
Point Sur State Historic Park is a state park in Monterey County, California, preserving the 1886 Point Sur Lighthouse. The light station was established in 1854 to warn ships about the rocky shoreline of this part of the coast.
The Point Sur Light Station comprises a lighthouse and several outbuildings on top of a high promontory overlooking the Pacific Ocean at its narrowest point near Big Sur. This facility is one of only two full-time lighthouses on the West Coast (the other being the New Dungeness Lighthouse in Washington). The lighthouse tower is an important landmark. And used by mariners sailing along California’s central coast region. Between San Francisco and San Diego, and provides critical aid to navigation for boat traffic entering Monterey Bay from Monterey Harbor or leaving it.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
You can expect to see seals, sea lions, and maybe even whales if you time your visit right. You can get there by driving along Highway 1 or taking a bus from Carmel, Monterey, or San Simeon. There is no recommended parking spot; just park on the side of the road and use caution when parking near blind curves. The best time to go is in spring (April-May) when females are giving birth and males are fighting for dominance over territories.
Carmel valley is a rugged and spectacular stretch of California’s coastline. We know it for its dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The area is also home to many redwood and oak forests. There are plenty of things to do in the area, including hiking, camping, fishing, and whale watching.
Andrew Molera State Park
In Big Sur, Andrew Molera State Park is one of California’s best-loved state parks. We know the park for its hiking trails, which are especially popular during the spring wildflower bloom and fall foliage peak. Visitors can also enjoy camping at the park or exploring the scenic coastal region around it on horseback.
point sur lighthouse
The Point Sur Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States. They built it in 1889 to serve as a navigational aid for ships passing through the area between Monterey and San Francisco. Today, it serves as an important historical landmark. And tourist attraction along California’s scenic Big Sur coastline.
san Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is a city in the U.S. state of California and the county seat of San Luis Obispo County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 45,119. The population within city limits was 43,744 at that same time.
On California’s Central Coast near its border with Santa Barbara County and Los Angeles County. San Luis Obispo lies north-northwest of Los Angeles in California’s South Central Coast region. (often known as “the central coast”).
Hiking Trails in Big Sur
What is the best hiking trail in Big Sur? The best hiking trails in Big Sur vary in difficulty, but all offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains.
The easiest hike is the Andrew Molera State Park Trail, a flat, four-mile path that winds through a redwood forest and meadows. The most challenging hike is the 17-mile Pfeiffer Ridge Trail, which climbs to over 6,000 feet elevation.
Other popular hikes in the area include the Bixby Bridge Trail, the McKay Falls Trail, and the Point Lobos Trail.
Soberanes Point is a beautiful, rugged spot on the coast of California’s Big Sur region. They named the point after José Castro Soberanes, who was granted the land in 1842. The rocky point is a great place to watch the waves and the sunset.
river state beach
There are plenty of things to do in the Big Sur area, but one of the most popular activities is visiting River State Beach. We know this beach for its dramatic scenery and stunning views, and it is worth a visit if you are in the area.
Big Sur Bakery
You should visit the Big Sur Bakery. It’s in the heart of Big Sur Village and open seven days a week, from 8 am to 5 pm. They have a variety of baked goods and pastries, including their famous cinnamon rolls. You can also order sandwiches, salads, soups, and more to eat there or take with you on your hike. If you want to sit down for a while at their tables outside under shady trees while enjoying your food, then this is the place!
Multi-day Tours and Day Trips
Monterey County has a little of everything to offer, making it the perfect destination for a variety of travelers. If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, head to Big Sur for stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and lush forests. If you’re interested in learning more about California’s history and culture.
Then visit Monterey, where you’ll find the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a variety of historic buildings and monuments. And if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, check out the beautiful beaches in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pacific Grove.
The Elephant Seal Rookery
The Elephant Seal Rookery is a great place to visit on your own, but it’s even better when you don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting there and back.
A multi-day tour with a local company like Big Sur River Cruises. Or Monterey Bay Whale Watch will get you up close with these huge mammals, which are more commonly known as “seals” (although they’re sea lions). The rookery is in Piedras Blancas State Reserve, about 3 hours south of Carmel.
The Pebble Beach Golf Links is a golf course on the Monterey Peninsula in California. It is in Pebble Beach, California, and is the only course in the world with holes on both sides of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Jack Neville originally designed the course and opened in 1919. Robert Trent Jones later redesigned it in 1947.
The course is in Pebble Beach, California, and is the only course in the world with holes on both sides of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Pacific Coast Highway 1
Easily, the most famous California Highway. It might even be the most famous highway in the United States. Even rivaling the attractions of Route 66.
The Big Sur coastline stretches for approximately 92 miles, from Carmel Highlands in the north to Ragged Point in the south. Most of the Big Sur coastline is part of the Los Padres National Forest. One of the best things to do in California is the old coast road. And can take you from Big Sur to the best hiking in San Diego.
Highway One is the best Big Sur road trip.
cannery row, Big Sur
Cannery Row is the main street in the town of Monterey, California. It is a tourist attraction and has many shops, restaurants, and hotels. The street was built in 1867 as a center for sardine packing houses and was originally called Fishermen’s Wharf.
Take a drive down scenic Highway 1 to San Jose for a day of fun. In San Jose, visit the Tech Museum of Innovation for exhibits on science and technology.
The California History Museum for a look at the state’s history. Or the Children’s Discovery Museum for hands-on exhibits and activities for kids. You can also visit the SAP Center, home of the San Jose Sharks NHL team, or explore the city’s vibrant downtown district.
Things to Do In The Big Sur with Family
Sand Dollar Beach
We know the Big Sur area for its dramatic coastline and rocky cliffs. One of the most popular beaches in the area is Sand Dollar Beach, which is known for its wide variety of tide pools and marine life.
Limekiln State Park
Limekiln State Park is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and picnicking. The park is in the Big Sur region of California and features two miles of oceanfront property that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
They named the park after the limekilns that were used to produce lime for local construction projects. During its heyday from 1850 to 1930, San Simeon was one of only three sources of building material in this area.
The McKay Falls is a waterfall on the McKay Creek in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, in the Big Sur area of California. The waterfall drops 80 feet (24 m) into the Pacific Ocean.
The waterfall was created about 8,000 years ago when the creek cut through the volcanic rock of the Santa Lucia Mountains. They named the waterfall after the wife of the property owner, J.P. Burns.
They established the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in 1952 to protect the waterfall and the surrounding redwood forest.
The Nepenthe Restaurant is a popular tourist destination in California. The restaurant is famous for its amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and its delicious food.
Day Trip to luis obispo
If you’re looking for a day trip that’s a little different from the norm, why not check out Luis Obispo? About an hour and a half from Big Sur. We know this charming town for its Spanish-style architecture. As well as, relaxed atmosphere, and an abundance of outdoor activities.
Popular things to do in Luis Obispo include hiking, biking, swimming, and exploring the local vineyards. Be sure to check out the charming downtown area, where you’ll find a variety of unique shops and restaurants.
Garra Pata state park
Garrapata State Park: One of the most popular things to do in the Big Sur area is visiting Garrapata State Park. This park is known for its stunning ocean views, lovely hiking trails, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can explore the park’s 2,000 acres of natural beauty. And there are a variety of different hikes to choose from, depending on your interests and abilities.
These are just a few of the best things to do in Big Sur California. And these are great things to add to any Big Sur Itinerary.
Big Sur CA is a beautiful place that offers something for everyone. It’s an ideal destination for families with kids of all ages as many activities can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. From hiking to kayaking, from horseback riding to whale watching, there is something for everyone!
So start crossing off your bucket list of the best things to do in the Big Sur area of California.