Big Sur Vacations

At the heart of the Pacific Ocean coastline in California, Big Sur is a place where beauty is preserved, imaginations are stretched and the great outdoors have never looked so great.

Big Sur — love at the first sight

There are no technical boundaries to when Big Sur begins and ends as far as territory goes, but that is sort of the philosophy behind this revered destination. Nature is infinite in its inspiration, and some of the biggest and brightest minds have been elicited by traveling through the majestic terrain and breathtaking scenery. Legendary writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller have cited their experiences in Big Sur as influences on their work, and the area has been referenced in numerous songs ranging from bands like The Beach Boys to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Big Sur, CA

While there is tons of nature available to fully immerse yourself in, Big Sur offers a wide variety of attractions, events and local shops and restaurants beyond the surf that all contribute their own unique influences into the Big Sur experience. Whether you are an outdoor explorer enthusiast or simply a relaxation aficionado, this West Coast utopia will have something right up your alley for your next holiday. Here is a list of the top 10 things to see and do during your stay in Big Sur.

1. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

With ten different state parks in Big Sur to choose from, the odds of surrounding yourself in beautiful sturdy Redwoods, flowing beds of water and endless fields of greenery are in your favor. One specific park to keep in mind is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, located in the heart of Big Sur. Often referred to as "Mini Yosemite," a day spent at Pfeiffer will be filled with admiring kilometres of gorgeous of hiking trails that intertwine through sycamore branches, frolicking black-tailed deer and immensely impressive waterfalls. Make sure to pack a picnic basket or two, so after a few hours of hiking up treacherous terrain you can set up shop at a number of available picnic areas that overlook the brilliant scenery, or even take a seat at the Big Sur Lodge Restaurant, located within the park's parameters.Take a dip in the Big Sur River that flows throughout the park grounds, and when the sun starts setting, no need to pack it all in. A weekend excursion to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will enlighten you with just exactly how stunning this place can be.

2. Point Sur Lighthouse

The Point Sur Lighthouse is an elegant sandstone California monument that proudly watches over the Pacific Ocean. A listed destination on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse has been in operation since 1889, and today serves as the only pre-20th century lighthouse that is available to the public throughout all of California. During its considerable history, the Point Sur Lighthouse has been the site of numerous shipwrecks off of the California coastline, including the infamous USS Macon, a flying aircraft carrier resembling the Hindenburg that remains one of the biggest flying objects in the world to have ever crashed. Tour guides are not only available to check out the USS Macon crash site, but the lighthouse itself is open to exploration throughout the tower, as well as through accompanying housing headquarters and early 20th century blacksmith shops. The Point Sur Lighthouse is another example of the cherished history Big Sur is famous for.

Big Sur, CA

3. McWay Falls

Located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls is an awe-inspiring 25 metre waterfall that falls directly onto the beaches of McWay Cove. McWay Falls is a must-see location to admire the tumbling waters as they crash upon the sand, McWay Falls is a great stop for a priceless picture opportunity. The technical term for McWay Falls is a "tidefall," rather than a waterfall, due to how it directly flows straight into the ocean during moments of high tide. McWay Falls is one of only two tidefalls located around the region. Hiking trails from up above can provide a direct view to the natural spectacle, but beware of steep cliffs, and wear appropriate hiking gear.

4. Bixby Creek Bridge

The Bixby Creek Bridge is an architectural wonder located just north of Big Sur, and while it functions as a routine checkpoint for thousands of travelers, it's also a perfect spot to snap a picture and capture its scenic genius. The bridge itself was constructed in 1932, where, before its arrival, local residents were essentially cut off from access to local roads in the winter. The Bixby Creek Bridge is considered one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges found anywhere in the world, with a height of 85 metres and a narrow width of only 7. The view that overlooks evergreen mountains alongside the Pacific Ocean is as iconic as it is remarkable, and the surrounding area has been featured in several movies and television shows, including "Heroes" and "Play Misty For Me." This is a must-do for those obeying the unofficial Big Sur checklist.

Big Sur, CA

5. Henry Miller Memorial Library

Henry Miller was one of the more influential writers of the early 20th century, with a number of his works being banned for controversy during its production, but today are considered revolutionary and ahead of its time. During the height of Miller's career, he moved to Big Sur, where the change in scenery led to a remarkable impact on his writing that continued to pave ways for the future Beat Generation. The Henry Miller Memorial Library serves as a way to not only honor the writer's timeless classics, but also to emphasize what exactly Big Sur meant to the author. With weekly events ranging from live rock concerts, film festivals, creative writing workshops and poetry competitions, checking out books is one of the last things that attracts passersby. The Henry Miller Memorial Library is a celebrated establishment of the Big Sur community that embodies how creativity and nature can go hand-in-hand.

6. Nepenthe Restaurant

Open every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Nepenthe Restaurant is the ultimate place to stop for a bite to eat and bask in the heavenly ambience. Ride through during lunchtime to dig into their legendary shrimp BLT's or The Famous Ambrosia Burger while you sit in the outdoor patio section surrounded by kilometres of extravagant forestry. Sunset is another great time to make it out to Nepenthe for a romantic rendezvous in the wilderness. Entrees such as the Maine diver scallops or the bleu cheese and Portobello mushroom-topped Nepenthe steak are almost as sublime as the scenery, and be sure to check out the adjacent Phoenix Shop for commemorative clothing items and fancy jewelry.

Big Sur, CA

7. Esalen Institute

Big Sur is home to two natural hot spring locations that are open to the general public. One of the best spots to ease those muscles is the Esalen Institute. This is a Big Sur staple for ultimate relaxation, and was a frequent holiday destination for musician Joan Baez and writer Hunter S. Thompson. The Esalen Institute is also a location for massages, fine dining and even includes its own art center, where local painters push the boundaries of their craft.

8. Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Whether you are a stranger to the ways of of the ancient Buddhist philosophy or you are a self-proclaimed Zen master, a trip to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center could be just what the doctor ordered for your holiday. Buried within the trees and hillsides of Los Padres National Forest, the centre is heavily secluded to help attendees let go of stress and appreciate the natural beauty. Aside from beginner's lessons to Zen, the center provides hiking tours, access to hot spring baths as well as observatories provided to allow patrons a panoramic view of the enclosed wilderness. A trip to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is for those in need of ultimate stress relief during a much needed holiday break.

Big Sur, CA

9. Silver Peak Wilderness

Residing along the Big Sur coastline and the southern corners of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the Silver Peak Wilderness is 128 square kilometres of backpacking paradise. Feel free to get lost amongst rows and rows of coastal Redwoods, towering above fern-shrouded canyons, illustrious hillsides and infinite uninhabited abyss. Other forms of recreation available at Silver Peak Wilderness includes hiking trails, horseback riding and overnight camping excursions, to help get you in touch with your inner spirit animal. Make sure if you make the trek out there to hike through Salmon Creek Falls, where waterfalls and streaming creeks make for a good afternoon dip!

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