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Big Sur, California

the drive of your life

The classic All-American drive down California’s Highway 1 is at its most dramatic when it passes through the 90 miles of coastal road found within Big Sur. Twisting roads curve around the steep cliffs, occasionally passing gorgeous State Parks and spectacular vista pull-ins that look out over the vast Pacific Ocean.

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Big Sur, California

Drive the Big Sur, a spectacular stretch of highway. Once you have driven along this winding stretch of Highway 1, you will certainly understand why it is often referred to as one of the greatest drives in America! This famous highway hugs the coastline between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Cambria. The Big Sur is found in Monterey County and is a phenomenal section of California’s 800-mile coastline. There are turn-out’s all along the route so you can absorb the unbelievable sights at a pace of your own.

Where to stop along The Big Sur?

As you drive from Carmel, Bixby Bridge marks the start of The Big Sur. Bixby Creek Bridge is a favourite photo-op along The epic Big Sur. If you plan to make a stop here you may need to wait a little while for someone to move out of your shot! Look out for the crowds as people dash across the road. McWay Falls is another notable stop of marvel. Tucked inside Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park you’ll see the beautiful waterfall that runs into the ocean. Henry Miller Memorial Library is a wooden cabin, blissfully tucked away within a grove of trees.

Where to eat along the Big Sur?

Personal favourite – Nepenthe. Arguably the best views you will ever witness as you sit for a delicious lunch looking out over the endless Pacific Ocean! With such breathtaking views, the original owners felt the home was too good to keep to themselves and opened up the restaurant to share with the world. They don’t take reservations here, but there’s no better place to wait! There is also a gorgeous shop named ‘The Phoenix’ here where you must treat yourself! A cultural hub, this little gem will make a big impact. The Big Sur Bakery is a quirky location, disguised behind the Shell gas station! Serving breakfast and dinner, you’ll also want to treat yourself to a delicious sugary treat for the road!

Best way to drive The Big Sur?

This is a classic American drive, on your classic Californian Road trip, and so it should be done properly! For an experience like this, a convertible can’t be beaten. To be able to drive along, top-down, Michael Kiwanuka playing, (If you know, you know!) the salty air blowing through your hair and the waves crashing down on the deep blue pacific ocean beside you, is quite surreal. This is a slow-paced road, with twists and turns wrapping the mountainside you will want to allow some time for the drive. Driving along The Big Sur is not an experience you will want to rush through.

You should know before you go…  In the past, there have been occasions where the road has had to close due to landslides. In which case we would refer you to the best alternate route and inform you before reaching The Big Sur. This would be more likely to happen during the winter.

Where to stop as you drive along The Big Sur?

 

Pay a visit to the elephant seals along from Hearst Castle. Here you can simply pull in and watch the mammals from an observation deck. The best time to visit is from November as the seals come ashore to mate and birthing takes place mostly in January.

As you reach San Simeon it may be hard to miss the spectacular castle on the hill that is Hearst Castle. Once home to publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, the castle is now a grand and elaborate showcase of his life. If you don’t have time to stop in for a full tour you can still  look around the visitors centre. Along the drive up the hill you may see a zebra or two roaming on the land. Yes, that’s right… zebra!  

How much does it cost to enter Hearst Castle, California?

You can drive up the long driveway to park and enter the visitors centre/museum for free. The tour tickets range from $25 to $100+ per person  and each tour allows access to different areas of the castle. Tour Highlights include the lavish Neptune pool which was recently restored in 2018 to its former glory. There is an $8 reservation fee to reserve your tour tickets online, but this may be worth doing if you’re particularly interested in a popular tour. Originally constructed in the 1920s, this pool was the scene of many an extravagant party. It’s not hard to imagine the ‘Great Gatsby-esque’ scenes that once were!          

explore the road trips that visit Big Sur, California below...

Drive along the Big Sur, Highway 1, California

Classic Highway 1

San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Point Lobos, Big Sur, Pacific Coast Highway, Cambria, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Los Angeles & more

Las Vegas - View of Paris Hotel, Las Vegas California Coast Road Trip

Cali Coast & Vegas

San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree NP & Las Vegas!

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The Golden Triangle

San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Death Valley NP, Yosemite NP, Napa Valley & more

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Classic California

San Francisco, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Pacific Coast Highway, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles & more

Pacific Coast Highway. The Big Sur, Bixby Bridge

Pacific Coast Highway

San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Pacific Coast Highway, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, San Diego & more

The Painted Ladies, colourful Houses in San Francisco, Visit Northern California

Northern California

San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Yosemite NP, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic NP, Redwoods NP, Napa Valley & more

Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, Northern Cali Loop in California

Northern Cali Loop

San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Cambria, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley & more

Trees in the distance at the Grand Canyon, west coast fly drive

The Golden Arch

Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite NP, Napa Valley, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Los Angeles & more

Skyline reflections from Portland to Los Angeles

Portland to LA

Portland, Oregon Coast, Redwood NP, Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles & more

Reflections on the Lake in Yosemite National Park, Californias west coast Road Trip

Best Of The West

Laguna Beach, Palm Springs, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Monterey, Big Sur, LA & more

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, West Coast America

Ultimate West Coast

Seattle, Olympic NP, Oregon Coast, Portland, Crater Lake NP, Redwood NP, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles & more

Route 66 road signs in the Route 66 and Highway 1

The Big Two

Chicago, St Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Grand Canyon NP, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara,Big Sur, Monterey, San Francisco & more

Cacti in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix Arizona, Southwest Road Trip

Ultimate Southwest

Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Las Vegas, Yosemite, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Big Sur, Los Angeles, San Diego & more

Bright colours of the Grand Canyon ON OUR Grand Tour America

Grand Tour America

San Fran, Big Sur, LA, Las Vegas, Zion NP, Grand Canyon, Texas, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Blue Ridge Parkway, Washington DC, NYC & more

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