Top 10 things to do in Big Sur. The best attractions and activities in California's natural areas

By Anna Veselova-SolovoniukJun 22, 2023 22:10 PMCalifornia
Top 10 things to do in Big Sur. The best attractions and activities in California's natural areas
Big Sur Coast in California. Source: Photographer: Petra Nesti/Pexels

Planning your trip to the Big Sur area in advance is a very good decision. It's easy to get lost among the many options: things to do in Big Sur. If you don't have much time to spare and it's more of a casual stop along Highway 1, we suggest choosing one of the waterfalls or creeks for a quick picnic or a scenic walk. Trust me, you'll have plenty of options. Highway 1 is a 90-mile serpentine route along the coast, and all of its turns offer stunning panoramas of three elements in harmony: the wayward Pacific Ocean, the clear blue of the sky, and the picture-perfect cliffs and mountains crashing into the waves.

The perfect decision to enjoy the attractions in Big Sur for a few days or even weeks requires knowing exactly what to do in Big Sur California and what to see in Big Sur. Knowing the places to visit in Big Sur allows you to think about your stops six months in advance and make great early reservations at the bestх Big Sur and Pfeiffer Big Sur campgrounds (сменить на ссылку сайта). Or choose to stay by choosing the best things to do in Big Sur.

The top 3 things to do in Big Sur are to meet the rising golden rays of the sun at sunrise, see the rosy rays of the sun go into the ocean at sunset, and visit the Bixby Bridge, from which the first two things can be done perfectly. But those aren't all the things to do in Big Sur. There are completely different rankings to choose from, but we've tried to narrow it down to the top 20 best things to do in Big Sur.

Our trip with you will include 80-foot waterfalls, cliffs including Castle Well, beaches, lookouts, the main station, the Bixby Bridge and many great experiences, activities and sightseeing in Big Sur.

Add the Big Sur attractions map to your gear so you don't get lost and the California Parks website so you are always aware of weather conditions, road conditions, trail work, and stopover options at Big Sur hiking area parks. If using GPS, download maps ahead of time so you can use them without interruptions; in most areas, communications will not be available and the nearest aid centers are not that close. So, think carefully about the contents of your luggage or backpack and hit the best places to visit in Big Sur.

1 Visit Big Sur Visitor Center

Perhaps the best thing you must do in Big Sur, at the beginning of your journey, is to drive through the visitor center, nestled at the southern end, near the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Especially if your path is set toward the Los Padres forest area.

At the center you can buy maps, souvenirs, and safety instructions about wild animals and poisonous plants. You will be advised on where to stay and recommended the best things to see in Big Sur, close to your rest spot.

Opportunity to buy first aid items and dry food, get advice on first aid and cautions along your way. Keep in mind that you have until 4 p.m. to get to the center and plan your way forward before dark.

Next to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Visitor Center is another station near the adjacent Big Sur Lodge grounds. The expanded list of goods and services may satisfy you a little more.

2 Be impressed by McWay Falls

McWay Big Sur Falls, California. Source: Photographer :Skyler Sion/Pexels

The most popular photo content in the Big Sur area starts with this Big Sur best places. From the rocky scaffolding, straight onto the golden beach sand, a gleaming stream of water glistening in the sun pours down from 80 feet high.

The delight begins, even from the highway observation deck, transitioning into the trail that leads to the waterfall. One of the cool things to do in Big Sur and that you can realize right here is to take a photo surrounded by a cinematic landscape, perfect for Instagram content and exceptional memories.

And the history of the "relationship" of two similar elements is worthy of an Oscar novel or, at the very least, a romantic legend.

Once, the waters of the waterfall and the ocean were inseparable, and for years on end, the waterfall passionately fell into the arms of the daring waves. But in 1983, nature's jealous mother decided to separate them by bringing down a massive landslide on their carefree happiness, and now the embrace is only possible when the ocean reaches, at high tide, to extend its arms-strings of the Macaway Falls.

You can see and admire the two elements in love by parking in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and taking a short walk along the observation trail to the observation scaffolding.

Don't forget to check the California Parks website for trail details, make sure you can realize your trip to see one of the most romantic sights to see in Big Sur.

If your solution is to park on the road, be careful where you park, and as you walk along the trail, stop to inspect the crowns of the growing eucalyptus trees, you might catch another of the Big Sur points of interest - the California condors perched in the hammocks of the branches.

The temptation to go down to the beach and refresh yourself under the waterfall is great, but the rocky walls are very fragile and dangerous to descend, so going down is forbidden by park rules.

3 View the scenery from Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge from the Cliff Lookout, California. Source: Mr. Location Scout

The Bixby Bridge embodies the flight of man's boundless imagination and possibilities. Connecting two cliffs, the world's tallest, single-span arched Bixby Bridge rises 260 feet above the unbridled waters of the ocean. The views extending from its flight have long been immortalized in photo, video and media content. But the stream of people wanting to see and capture this miracle made by the hands of many talents, professionals and craftsmen does not end to this day. And be prepared to have dozens more cameras in your lenses over the weekend or vacations, looking for great angles at every end of Big Sur, California's most popular tourist spot.

The time spent searching for a parking spot at the north end of the bridge is sure to be offset by the delight of the dramatic and breathtaking sight of the concrete trail that clings so firmly to the cliffs and bravely meets all of nature's protests against being introduced into its landscape pattern.

Another view of the Bixby Bridge comes from Old Coast Road - this unpaved road branch can extend your walk a little further and widen the viewing angles of one of the best things in Big Sur.

4 Visit Pfeiffer Beach

Keyhole at sunset, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur. Source: Photographer :KEHN HERMANO/Pexels

Once you enter Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and walk no more than a mile south, you'll find a trail whose finale will simply exceed your expectations. RV and trailer owners will have to change their transportation, to a smaller car or bicycle. The trail snakes down to the Big Sur paradise and is accompanied by some of the most scenic views and panoramas of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the endless sky.

Pfeiffer Beach has its own small parking lot, which fills up very quickly and the winner is whoever comes here for a glimpse of the stunning mesmerizing sunrise. The cliffs and mountains that wrap around the beach have the possibility of their own panoramic viewpoints, taking one's eyes beyond the horizon.

In the waters of the Pacific Ocean lapping Pfeiffer Beach stands one of the Big Sur main attractions, the "Keyhole" or "Gateway to the Ocean. Also a very popular photo content character, this picturesque clump, in the middle of the waves, with an arched through tunnel in the middle, seems rather familiar.

Pfeiffer Beach is simply called "purple sand beach. Golden grains of sand, mixed with grains of manganese garnet brought from the hills and mountains by streams, create the purple color of the beach. At sunset, the color of the shoreline is stunning.

The great thing about the beach is of course sunbathing and admiring the scenery, but after grabbing some beach games, you can stay here all day, picnic and explore a few trails along the Santa Lucia Mountains in search of a place to see Big Sur in all its infinite beauty.

5 Explore Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

If you're looking for places to visit in Big Sur in the Macway Falls area to continue your journey and enjoy the experience, explore the state park hiking trails, they will lead you to new views, sights and things everyone in Big Sur must see.

The Evoldsen Trail takes you between majestic sequoias rising to the sky, to a blooming canyon of Pacific madrons. As you hike the coastal trails, don't forget to return to your lodging before dark.

The Jade Cove Trail takes you on a short 2.5-mile hike along the ocean and beach.

The Mill Creek Trail takes you deep into a fairy-tale forest for 5 km. Your journey will take you along the creek, amidst towering sycamores and broad-branched maples.

In addition to the scenic and stunning views, the trails will help you get to know the park's permanent resident inhabitants. You can see sea lions, watch great whales tearing up the ocean and listen to the habitat of California condors.

Several of the park's campgrounds offer excellent camping facilities or RV sites, and there are also additional activities for both children and adults within the campsites. All camping areas are conveniently located to Big Sur places to visit.

6 Walk to Pfeiffer Falls and the trails of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

The imagination of nature in Pfeiffer Big Sur Park simply knew no bounds and endowed the area with such a rich landscape that incorporated a variety of places to visit near Big Sur.

A backdrop of dense and unique forest with giant groves of redwoods, land riddled with a web of winding trails, the waterways of the Big Sur River, streams and waterfalls that feed the lush vegetation - make a long list: things to see near Big Sur.

The park's most popular attraction is the 65-foot-tall Pfeiffer Falls. Visitors like to go down to scenic Pfeiffer Beach, where there are good vantage points for whale migration. The location on the Big Sur River opens up many points for fishing and swimming. The mountain trails around the preserve have convenient points for rock climbing and long hikes.

The park's vibrant wildlife will introduce a wealth of wildlife. Encounters with deer, bobcats (rare), turkeys, various bird species are common for tourists.

The variety of camping offers (more than 150 options) doubles the fun and comfort level. The possibility of sleeping in both tents and cabins in entire complexes gives both budget and premium campers the opportunity to enjoy the sights near Big Sur. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a very popular tourist destination in the Big Sur area, so camping sites should be booked in advance.

7 Explore the emerald bay of Point Lobos

Bird Island at Big Sur. Source: Photographer :Kyle Collins/Pexels

Central California is full of protected areas with amazing places to visit. Another of these finishes the Big Sur area to the north is Point Lobos State Park.

The park's changing landscapes, access to the ocean and abundant wildlife beckon professional lenses, underwater explorers and thousands of weekend visitors here.

The countless trails allow for interesting biking and hiking, discovering more nooks and crannies. The main tourist attractions in this conservation area have been Wailers Bay and Bird Island. China Cove (China Beach), with its emerald waters of the Pacific Ocean and coastal inhabitants in the form of harbor seals, is a favorite spot for photos from the Bird Island Trail. Unfortunately, the descent to Emerald Bay is very unsafe and not recommended. But a walk further down the same trail will take you to Gibson Beach. The descent to the beach is by steep stairs.

There are several options for exploring the area's good places to visit near Big Sur. The paid parking lot at the south end of the park will be convenient, for those who want to walk longer and get to Bird Island quickly. The Bird Island Trail is a great short walk if you don't have a lot of time, but it is among the best places to visit in Big Sur.

To explore the diversity of underwater creatures in the Point Lobos area, you would have to get a permit, which is done to preserve unique natural areas.

8 Conquer the Santa Lucia Range in Limekiln State Park

No list of things to do in Big Sur would be complete without exploring Limekiln State Park. Over 700 acres of scenic overlooks with the Santa Lucia Mountain Range jutting into the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The highlight of Limekiln has been reconnecting with part of the Ventana wilderness.

If you've been to the Lime Creek Bridge area, you've definitely seen the shoreline that belongs to Limekiln Park.

With plenty of hiking trails, exploring the rich nature of Limekiln Parkland will be a great thing to do in Big Sur California. You'll be greeted by scenic lush redwood groves, rapids waterfalls, and streams. There are three historic lime kilns within the park that will be fun to explore and learn a lot of useful information. Excellent picnic areas will make your holiday even more varied, you can hold meetings with friends, celebrations and birthdays in the park. Comfortable campsites will allow you to enjoy the unique and beautiful nature with picture-perfect panoramas for longer. You'll be able to choose a creekside or coastal site, each with unique activities and amenities. Be sure to review your camping options ahead of time, link in the introduction.

9 Relax in comfort at Ragged Point

Wooden descent to the beach. Source: Photographer :Solvej Nielsen/Pexels

Enjoying nature from a restaurant terrace or from the window of a luxurious room is a triple pleasure. A place where premium comfort meets the picture-perfect natural surroundings of Big Sur, it's called Ragged Point.

Ragged Point Inn and Resort is built on top of a cliff rising 300 feet above the ocean. One can only fantasize about the views before its guests.

With a gourmet restaurant, bar and comfortable accommodations, the complex is on the list of must-see places, and better yet, must-try places in Big Sur.

Being on the territory of the complex, one gets the feeling that it is simply impossible to get enough of the scenery here, every time will not be enough. The changing colors of sunsets and sunrises are an art gallery, daily replenished with new exhibits. A winding trail takes you straight to the sandy beach where you can sunbathe and engage in water sports. The lack of cell phone service, only enhances and strengthens the atmosphere of relaxation in connection with nature.

There is a service for refueling vehicles, of course the cost will exceed the usual prices, but in case of emergency can come in handy.

10 Purchase the immortalized nature of Big Sur at the Henry Miller Library

Such natural beauties and landscapes have been inspiring and inspiring muse since ancient times. Books have been written about Big Sur, its shores and mountains immortalized in paintings, and its picturesque landscapes sung in poems and songs. You can learn about the creative side of Big Sur at the nonprofit Henry Miller Library.

The longtime resident and writer of these nature-kissed areas was a shining example of the spirited and inspired fairies of the redwood forests and wayward waters. Big Sur tourist attractions like these will help you understand the romance of these places.

The Henry Miller Library is more like a makeshift museum, collecting many of the data about local natural areas, sealed in fiction, memoirs, historical publications, lyrical songs, and travel guides.

The museum grounds are often enlivened by musical concerts, making this lovely institution also a pleasant place to relax. One of the unique places to go in Big Sur.

11 Face the huge waves of the coast in Garrapata State Park

Another gem in the Big Sur area is Garrapata Park. The same Highway 1 leads to the park area. Being the northern part of Big Sur the area has more dramatic scenery, sharp cliffs and the raging waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Access to the beach is available from mile markers 17 and 18 on the highway. But don't count on the welcoming surf of the ocean; here the water element plays catch-up with the winds, crashing against rocky stills and rugged blocks.

Of the activities to do in Big Sur, the hiking trails along Soberanes Canyon are popular here.

If you want to bypass the large crowds, take the trail leading to Cape Soberano, where you'll find even more dramatic scenery and the rush of adrenaline from the Pacific waves.

12 Solitude at Andrew Mohler State Park

The huge area of the park is perfect for those who are not ready for crowds of tourists. And it's not because it's wild and undeveloped. It's just that the number of beautiful trails allow for comfortable accommodations for scenic walks.

Taller, but more sloping cliffs make for an easier trip and a longer view to the horizon. You'll easily find landscaped sequoias, sandy beaches and a place just for you.

Cut through by the Big Sur River, the park is filled with freshwater activities and riverscape. To finish the walk less than a mile to Andrew Mohler's popular beach, you'll have to cross the Big Sur River. The beach is huge, as is its natural host, so you'll never be disturbed by the feeling of crowds and congestion.

Stormy waves don't always make it possible to enjoy a beach vacation at Andrew Mohler. See the up-to-date information about flooding areas of the park on the California Parks website in the introduction to the Big Sur trip.

13 Find your adventure at Point Sur Historical Park

Heading north from Andrew Mohler State Park and within 20 miles of Monterey you'll find Point Sur Lighthouse overlooking the ocean. In operation since 1889, this keeper of sea travelers receives its visitors only on weekends and as part of guided tours.

Located 361 feet above ocean level, the lighthouse has a good observation deck and panoramic views. Standing on a volcanic cliff, Point Sur Lighthouse piques tourists' interest with informative, unique tour offerings and the picture-perfect beauty of its promise. Located next to the Monterey Bay Preserve, the lighthouse is visited by professional divers.

If you are ready for a three-hour hike, with a climb to the height of the lighthouse, overcoming two steep staircases, with 61 long steps, your reward will make up for all the effort and effort made along the way.

The Naval Complex also offers 90-minute tours that begin at the closed west gate, toward the Point Sur Naval Complex sign.

Keep in mind that all tours are limited in the number of people, so come in advance, at least half an hour for your victory. For more information about tours, visit Pointsur website.

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