Bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains, Big Sur is a stretch of coast located between San Simeon and Carmel, California. The home of the state’s famous Coast Redwoods as well as abundance of marine animals, Big Sur is a popular tourist destination for those seeking peaceful nature paired with breathtaking natural beauty. With its sparse population, Big Sur is the perfect place to escape to if you want to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city or more touristy locations on the California coast.
If you’re planning a trip to Big Sur or if you live here or in one of the nearby communities of Monterey, Carmel, or San Simeon, here are some relaxing activities and places to visit.
Visit the Point Lobos Natural Reserve
Arguably the most beautiful state park in California, Point Lobos
is the perfect place to do some sightseeing, photography, or just sit and enjoy nature. The reserve has a rich variety of flora and fauna and an incredibly rich underwater habitat. Certified divers can explore the underwater environment, but even those who decide to stay on land can still enjoy spotting animals like California sea otters. If your goal is to relax rather than get some exercise, consider driving into the park and paying the entrance fee or you’ll have a relatively intensive hike if you opt to park outside and walk in.
Take the 17-Mile Drive
One of the most scenic drives in the country, the 17-Mile Drive
is a coastal route between Carmel and Monterey. Though you’ll have to pay a fee to drive it because it’s privately managed, it’s well worth the $11.25 to see the cypress trees, gorgeous coastline with impressive homes, and the famed Pebble Beach golf course. Along your relaxing drive, make sure you find the Lone Cypress Tree in its dramatic setting, spot harbor seals, and make a stop at Point Joe for an unforgettable view of the ocean. If you want to make some stops, you can make plans to hit Spyglass Hill Golf Course
, eat at Red House Cafe
, or have a drink at Stillwater Bar & Grill
. Note that your $11.25 will be refunded if you spend at least $35 at Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants.
Stay at Post Ranch Inn
If a stay at a luxury resort with heated infinity pools, delicious dining options, and unbeatable scenery is your idea of relaxation, you must book a stay at the Post Ranch Inn
. Situated on a cliff 1200 feet above the ocean, the Inn is the perfect place to rejuvenate with a guided nature walk, yoga class, or indulgent massage. The rooms–which are in a range of buildings from an enchanting tree house to one shaped like a butterfly–have no televisions or alarm clocks to spoil the serenity and have amenities like private outdoor soaking tubs, fireplaces, radiant-heated floors, and chef’s kitchens. Sierra Mar, the Inn’s on-site restaurant, offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner–as well as room service– and a 3200 bottle wine cellar. All menu options at Sierra Mar change daily and are based on the season.
Hang out on Sand Dollar Beach
Though you can see plenty of Big Sur’s natural beauty from the area’s many walking trails, embracing the slower side of life means you’d likely rather lounge and soak in the sun rather than work up a sweat. One of the best places to do this is on Sand Dollar Beach
, which features one of the longest stretches of unbroken sand in Big Sur. The beach gets its name from the fact that it is often full of washed-up sand dollars and provides the perfect opportunity for a little beach-combing. This beach–which is usually not crowded–is also the ideal place for a relaxing picnic or to spot some migrating whales. If you do want a little more adventure, keep in mind this is also one of the best surfing spots in all of Big Sur!
Enjoy a relaxing meal or drinks
There’s nothing more relaxing than being served delicious food or drinks while taking in gorgeous views or basking in the company of those you know and love. Fortunately, there are plenty of places where you can indulge in these activities in Big Sur. The Big Sur Lodge
has an excellent restaurant that serves lunch and dinner and offers patio dining that looks out over the Big Sur River. The Big Sur Taphouse
offers a wide selection of microbrews from around the country as well as light bites and sandwiches, and also has wide screen TVs in case you want to catch your favorite team playing.
If you want to start the day off right with a delicious breakfast or enjoy a laid-back light lunch, head to Cafe Kevah for home-baked goodies, and selections made with the freshest ingredients. Keep in mind that Cafe Kevah is open December through February, weather permitting, as it’s located on an outdoor terrace. You should also put Fernwood Resort Bar & Grill
on your list if you want to kick back in a traditional Big Sur locale complete with redwood timbers. If listening to live music appeals to you, make sure to stop in on a Saturday night and plan to stay until the bands start playing at around 9:30.
Known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, Big Sur is one of the best places in California to escape the frantic pace of modern life and embrace the slower side. Though it’s a great place to visit, you might want to consider gaining access to this slower-paced life full-time by living in Big Sur. If you want to see what that would take and the Big Sur, CA real estate that’s currently on the market, reach out to the experienced agents at Tim Allen Properties
. They can answer any questions for you and help you find your own piece of Big Sur paradise.