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The top things to do in Big Sur is explore the coastline.

Explore amongst the redwoods with no cell phone service.

I spent 24 hours in Big Sur, California ahead of a job I had in Monterey in 2019. This was my baby step into solo travel. Cruising along the California 1 with the ocean looking majestic AF just hits different. I may or may not have pulled over 4 times to take pictures but no one was there to tell me how annoying that was!

Anyways, Big Sur is a very special place. It's 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles. I flew into Monterey which is about 30 miles north. Somehow, they've held onto their roots so tightly where the main road isn't swarmed with commercial businesses to kill the vibe. It's all very campy with cabin-like inns and general stores.

After checking into Big Sur River Inn, I was handed a map because there isn't any reliable cell phone service, and that jolted me in the best way. It's funny how far we've come with technology yet sometimes we wish we had absolutely none of it. Why do you think disposable cameras are so big rn?

The way I've mapped out my recommendations are what to see, where to stay, eat and nearby places you might want to add to your "top things to do" Big Sur itinerary. Let me know if you like this format and if there's other information you'd like to see. I try to keep these like a cheat sheet…very snackable content.

The top things to do in Big Sur cater to all types of travelers.

Top Things To Do in Big Sur: What to See.

Pfeiffer Beach If there's only one thing you have time for, do this. The drive down is one lane and a bit grizzly at times, but so worth the view. Even better at sunset!

Bixby Creek Bridge If you're coming from Monterey or San Francisco, you'll drive over it on your way down. There's a pull off to get that perfect shot without putting yourself in danger.

McWay Falls This is the iconic scene for Big Sur with the waterfall flowing into the ocean. There's a pull off from the road and also a hike if you have more time.

Henry Miller Memorial Library This isn't just any library, but nestled in the woods and definitely one of a kind.

Top Things to Do in Big Sur: Where to Stay.

Big Sur River Inn The cabin in the woods vibe you'd expect. Has a General Store, a burrito place and a restaurant. You can sit in adirondack chairs on the river too.

Alila Ventana Big Sur The ritzy glam version of camping. If you have more than a couple hundred dollars to drop on glamping that's cool. The most pristine experience in the area.

Esalen Not a hotel, but a wellness center with accommodations to sleep. You can take workshops and they have hot springs along the ocean that used to be open to the public but now only to guests. It was clothing optional too.

Big Sur Lodge Similar to Big Sur River Inn. I personally prefer this campy vibe.

Camp! Amongst the redwoods, what a beautiful scene. My friends Jeff and Davina come to Big Sur a lot from LA with their van. They purchased and completely outfitted their camper in the beginning of Covid and have gone on some pretty awesome trips. Follow their van Edelweiss on Instagram for inspo!

A roadie will help you do all the top things in Big Sur.

Top Things to Do in Big Sur: Where to Eat.

Big Sur Bakery You can't go wrong with these fresh-baked goods.

COAST Go-to breakfast or lunch spot.

Nepenthe The views make it worth it…overwise a bit overpriced.

Big Sur River Inn With a general store to get food for your hike or the restaurant along the river, it's a nice environment with hanging lights and a crisp local beer to end your day.

Big Sur Roadhouse A nice outdoor atmosphere with your basic Californian menu.

More stops to add to the itinerary.

Carmel-by-the-Sea Can't skip this artsy beach town right next to Monterey.

Monterey Home to Pebble Beach and yes a bit upscale if you've seen Big Little Lies. Fun fact: the McDonald's here are the only black arches in the world.

San Francisco Continue your way up north if you're craving some In-and-Out Burger…and the Golden Gate Bridge too :)

Seeing that waterfall is amongst the top things to do in Big Sur.

Be good, JB

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