Big Sur is a spectacularly beautiful, rugged, and scenic stretch of the Pacific Coast in central California, located between San Simeon and Carmel and between the ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. The main road through Big Sur is the scenic two-lane State Route 1, winding along steep cliffs and offering breathtaking views of the coast. Big Sur is sparsely populated but very rich in parks, hot springs, nature reserves, and sanctuaries with a diversity of plants, trees, and animals that is rarely seeing anywhere else. Big Sur is best explored on foot as it is covered in a network of hiking and biking trails that pass through spectacular redwood forests and descend down flower-filled valleys before reaching lovely, small secluded beaches.
We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
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Gently winding from Pebble Beach to Pacific Grove, 17-Mile Drive will take you through magnificent cypress forests along a dramatic rocky coastline, passing some absolutely spectacular homes and some of world-class golf courses in Pebble Beach. Stop by Fanshell Overlook to take in the view of the ocean and watch the harbor seals and, if you pass from April to June, their babies too. As you come by a lovely little beach in Spanish Bay, take a break and have a picnic. If you are in the mood to celebrate, treat yourself to a gourmet meal at the Lodge. 17-mile Drive is privately managed, but passing through is free whether you drive, walk, or bike.
2.Andrew Molera State Park
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Located about 21 miles from Carmel, Andrew Molera State Park is one of the less developed parks in the Big Sur area. There are miles of hiking trails that cross the verdant meadows, dramatic bluffs, sandy beaches, and gentle hilltops. There is a simple, rustic trail camp that is very popular with hikers about a third of a mile from the park’s parking area. The park borders the private El Sur Ranch and the visitors are requested to respect the boundary and not enter the ranch’s cattle grazing fields when looking for the beach access. Fires are allowed in the park only in the designated metal fire rings. The beach is great for strolling and beach combing.
45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2315
3.California Sea Otter Game Refuge
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The California Sea Otter Game Refuge is a marine park in Monterey, a part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The refuge covers the area from the Carmel River to the Santa Rosa Creek in San Luis Obispo County. While you can see these charming sea animals floating in the sea of kelp all over Big Sur, there was a time when they were believed to be extinct as they were hunted for their pelts. In 1938 a small group of California sea otters was discovered near the Bixby Creek on Big Sur Coast. Thanks to efforts of people like Margaret W. Owings and the Friends of the Sea Otter society, which she founded, their numbers increased significantly.
Highway 1 Gate, 17 Mile Dr, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, Phone: 831-647-4201
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4.Calla Lily Valley, Big Sur, CA
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If you are driving along Highway 2 in early spring, stop at lovely Garrapata Park for a very special treat. At the small narrow ravine where Doud Creek passes through on the way to Garrapata Beach, there is a valley filled with elegant, wild calla lilies. To protect the beautiful but fragile flowers, there are stairs and trails through the valley. Take your time and enjoy the scene of rare but very fleeting beauty – the lilies do not last long. After enjoying the scene, keep going through the park to the 2-mile-long beach surrounded by coarse coastal vegetation. The park’s spectacular headlands at Soberanes Point are a perfect spot for watching harbor seals, point sea lions, and passing gray whales.
5.Carmel Heritage Society, Big Sur, CA
© Carmel Heritage Society
Located in Carmel at the corner of 6th Avenue and Lincoln Street is the First Murphy House, maintained by the Carmel Heritage Society and owned by the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The house is a home to the Carmel Heritage Society, a non-profit organization that has a goal of protecting, promoting, and preserving the cultural heritage of Carmel. Visitors to the First Murphy House can enjoy a range of historical exhibits as well as a research library with books, video, and audio tapes and periodicals about the history of Carmel. The First Murphy House is also a place for friends and residents of Carmel to get together. More Things to Do in Carmel
Lincoln St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, Phone: 831-624-4447
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6.Carmel River State Beach, Big Sur, California
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Carmel River State Beach is a mile-long state park in Carmel Bay, a protected beach where the Carmel River creates a lovely lagoon. The beach is very popular with bird watchers as the lagoon is a natural habitat that attracts a huge number of migratory birds. The area has been declared a bird sanctuary for its diversity of waterfowl, song birds, and many other species of birds. Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach, is also part of the park and is very popular with scuba divers, Other activities, such as swimming or even walking near the edge of the water, are considered dangerous due to the very strong currents.
Carmelo St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
7.Garrapata State Park
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Garrapata State Park is a 2,939-acre park established in 1979, located less than 7 miles from Rio Road in Carmel. The park has a lovely 2-mile-long beach, fantastic hiking trails, and a 50-foot climb in order to enjoy the most spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Santa Lucia. The beach is at times used for nude swimming and sunbathing. The trails through the park are surrounded by thick coastal vegetation and run through dense groves of magnificent redwoods. The coastal headlands at Soberanes Point are a great spot to watch sea lions, sea otters, and harbor seals as well as gray whales during their yearly migration.
Highway 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, Phone: 831-624-4909
8.Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, CA
© Henry Miller Memorial Library
Located in a redwood grove on the mountain side of Highway 1 about a quarter mile from the famous Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur, the Henry Miller Memorial Library is not a normal kind of library: It is an unofficial Big Sur art hub as well as a book store with a focus on promoting the artistic and literary works of Henry Miller. Known as a fiction writer, Miller also wrote some very good travel books, mostly about Greece. The library’s founder was Miller’s friend Emil White, who founded the library on his property in memory of a friend. The library soon became a gallery and a gathering place for local artists.
48603 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2574
9.Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is located 37 miles from Carmel, stretching from the coast of Big Sur to the 3,000-foot-high mountain ridges. The park’s lush vegetation consists of ancient redwood, madrone, tan oak and chaparral. The park’s most outstanding feature is an 80-foot-high waterfall that drops from the massive granite cliffs at the Overlook Trail straight into the ocean below. The trails through the park offer fantastic views of the rugged coastline and the endless ocean. There is no beach access from the park. Fenced cliff areas, the beach, Saddle Rock, and McWay Falls are off limits from the park and accessing them from the park is considered very dangerous.
52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2315
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10.Limekiln State Park, Big Sur, California
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Limekiln State Park is a 711-acre park established in 1994 and located about 56 miles from Carmel. The park is best known for spectacular views of the Big Sur Coast, magnificent redwood forest, the rugged, dramatic terrain, and four limekilns that operated from 1887 to 1890. The park has a network of hiking trails leading to the limekilns or to the Hare Creek Canyon. One trail leads to the 100-foot Limekiln Falls on the fork of Limekiln Creek. The park has a small campground with 31 campsites in the redwood forest and 11 on the coast, with a view of the ocean.
63025 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 805-434-1996
11.Los Padres National Forest
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Los Padres National Forest is a 1,950,000-acre area that includes an 8,847-foot-high mountain, rivers, streams, beaches, and magnificent forests. Most of the forest is on public land. Los Padres is divided into two separate areas. The northern division includes the Big Sur Coast and scenic interior and is located in Monterey and San Luis Obispo County. The "main division" of the Los Padres Forest includes areas within San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties. Los Padres is very popular with hikers, with 323 miles of hiking trails and a range of campgrounds.
Goleta, CA 93117, Phone: 805-968-6640
12.McWay Falls and Waterfall House Ruins
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Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, just off Highway 1 between Monterey and Cambria, McWay Falls drops 80 feet straight down into the Pacific Ocean. The views from the top of the falls are among the most breathtaking on the California coast. On the hillside just north of the falls are the ruins of the long-abandoned Waterfall House, surrounded by exotic palm trees, crumbling foundations, terraces, and steps. The views from the house are so spectacular, it is difficult to believe that anyone would abandon such a house. The last owner, the wife of late Lathrop Brown, donated the house and the land to the state of California.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2315
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13.Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo
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Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo is a Roman Catholic mission in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The mission consists of five museums and is known for its exceptional beauty. The main edifice is the basilica, with a magnificent catenary ceiling, 5-foot-thick walls, 30-foot-tall reredos, and a collection of significant Spanish artifacts and colonial liturgical art. In the forecourt of the Basilica is the Harry Downie Museum with artifacts and displays about the restoration of the mission. Behind the basilica is the Munrás Family Heritage Museum. The Jo Mora Chapel Gallery houses the Serra Memorial Cenotaph, sculpted by Jo Mora in 1924. The Convento Museum houses the cell in which Saint Junipero Serra died in 1784.
3080 Rio Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, Phone: 831-624-1271
14.Tor House and Hank Tower
Tor House was built for the legendary Californian poet Robinson Jeffers in the early 1900’s, using local granite stones from the Carmel Bay coastline. Located on a beautiful but isolated promontory, Tor House became home to the poet and his family, and is where the greatest volume of his poetry was composed. The Hank Tower was constructed by Jeffers himself to provide a retreat for his wife and a magical place for his twin sons to enjoy. Today the property is run as a museum and a tribute to one of the state’s most prolific poets. It is open to the public for guided tours every Saturday and for Music Tours on occasional Friday evenings.
Tor House and Hank Tower, 26304 Ocean View Ave, Carmel-by the- Sea, CA 93923,
831 624 1813
15.Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
© Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a federally protected marine area located off the coast of California. It is the biggest American marine sanctuary, with 276 miles of shoreline stretching between the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Cambria in San Luis Obispo County. Supporting one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world, the sanctuary offers a home to a large number of fish, mammals, invertebrates, seabirds, and plants. It also includes beautiful beaches, tidepools, kelp forests, underwater seamounts, cliffs, and canyons, all teeming with life. The National Marine Sanctuary has the goal of promoting environmental protection and ocean research and stewardship.
Monterey Bay, CA 93940, Phone: 831-647-4201
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16.Nepenthe, Big Sur, California
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High on top of a peak in the Santa Lucia Mountains, just off the scenic coast-hugging Cabrillo Highway, is Nepenthe, a restaurant where spectacular views of the ocean and rocky beaches compete with equally spectacular California edible delights. Nepenthe has a history more than half a century long that involves stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Welles, and Henry Miller. Opened in 1949 and designed by Rowan Maiden, protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright, the restaurant was always meant to combine breathtaking landscape views with the cultural and artistic landscape characteristic of Big Sur. From the very beginning it attracted musicians, artists, writers, and other interesting types. Surrounded by ancient redwood and oak forest, with the rail seating overlooking the ocean and Graves Canyon, eating at Nepenthe is a unique experience.
48510 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2345
17.New Camaldoli Hermitage
© New Camaldoli Hermitage
New Camaldoli Hermitage is a secluded community of Roman Catholic monks who are spending their lives in prayer and contemplation. This rural hermitage is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur. The Camaldolese branch of the Benedictine family was established in the late 10th century by St. Romuald. The New Camaldoli Hermitage was established in 1958 and its site was chosen because it combines rare natural beauty and solitude. Its location, at 1,300 feet, can be accessed by a narrow 2-mile-long road that offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. About 20 monks now live at the hermitage, each in a private small cottage, seeking solitude and privacy. The hermitage sells fruitcake and date-nut cake made using the monks’ own recipe. About 150,000 people have so far undertaken retreats at the hermitage since its foundation.
62475 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2456
18.Old Coast Road
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The road from Big Sur to Carmel runs through what is probably one of the most beautiful stretches of the California landscape. The back road, which runs from the scenic Bixby Bridge to Big Sur, is not as well known to tourists, although it was the main road before the Bixby Bridge was completed in 1932. It is 10 miles of spectacular beauty, going up and down a narrow dirt road over the Santa Lucia Mountains, through tunnels and the deep shade of fragrant pines and massive coastal redwoods, then out into the bright sun with views of Andrew Molera State Park and the Big Sur River as it empties into the Pacific Ocean.
19.Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
© Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, which opened in 1883, is one of the first natural history museums in the country. The museum is located in Pacific Grove, close to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and showcases the natural treasures of California’s central coast as well as its plants, birds, wildlife, geology, and cultural diversity. Since its establishment, the museum has spearheaded the national tradition of nature preservation and hands-on science education. The museum's collection of birds native to Monterey County has a display with more than 400 specimens, and it includes the California condor and the now extinct passenger pigeon. The museum is also the largest public site for monarch butterflies, which stop in Pacific Grove on their annual migration south.
165 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, Phone: 831-648-5716
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20.Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur, CA
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Located about 26 miles from Carmel, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park covers the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains, high above the Big Sur River Gorge, through which the Big Sur River flows into the park. The park has a network of scenic trails that wind along the river banks and through the dense, verdant groves of redwoods, oaks, conifers, sycamores, maples, alders, cottonwoods, and willows. Many campsites in the large campground are stretched along the Big Sur River. The park is rich in wildlife, and it is not rare to spot elusive bobcats, gray squirrels, black-tailed deer, raccoons, skunks, and many species of birds.
47555 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2315
21.Point Lobos National Reserve
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Point Lobos State Reserve is located 3 miles from Carmel on Highway 1, at the northern end of Big Sur. This unique spot on the coast combines on the one side rocky cliffs, patches of dense forest, deep canyons, and valleys covered in wild flowers. On the other side is the Pacific, with endless waves crashing at the coastal cliffs. The reserve is very popular for hiking, scuba diving, visiting important geological sites, and observing native plants and animals such as harbor seals, seabirds, sea lions, sea otters, and gray whales. There is a small cabin in Whalers Cove, built a long time ago by Chinese fishermen, that is now a cultural history museum.
62 California 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, Phone: 831-624-4909
22.Point Lobos Ranch, Big Sur, California
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Point Lobos Ranch is an area in Monterey County that is owned by the California State Park System and is currently being evaluated as a possible state park. The ranch is located east of the Point Lobos State Reserve and just south of Carmel. Its importance lies in the fact that it has one of the largest stands of endemic native Monterey pines in the world, the endangered rare Gowen cypress, and a plant community of rare maritime chaparral. The area also offers spectacular views of the coastline and Carmel Bay. The ranch lands and surrounding public lands are a habitat for mountain lions, and San Jose Creek is an important spawning ground for steelhead trout. In addition, there are some significant archeological Native American sites.
562 State Hwy 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, Phone: 831-649-2836
23.Point Sur State Historic Park
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Located about 19 miles from Carmel, the Point Sur State Historic Park is home to an historic lighthouse that stands on a massive volcanic rock 361 feet above the sea. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Point Sur is currently the only functioning turn-of-the century lighthouse in California open to the public. It was first lit in 1889 and has continued to operate ever since. From 1889 to 1974, before the lighthouse was automated, it was home to the lighthouse keepers and their families. The lighthouse and its surrounding buildings are being restored by the park staff and volunteers, and there are docents who lead guided tours of the lighthouse.
CA-1, Monterey, CA 93940, Phone: 831-625-4419
24.Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
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Every year in October in a large eucalyptus grove in California’s Pacific Grove, thousands of monarch butterflies take a break from their long journey south to warmer places. They hang in thick clusters from each eucalyptus branch to keep warm, creating a stunning effect and attracting thousands of visitors. To protect butterflies and their preferred eucalyptus habitat, the city of Pacific Grove established the grove as a butterfly sanctuary. Visiting the sanctuary is free, and visitors can watch and admire monarch butterflies as long as they do not touch them. The sanctuary is maintained by Pacific Grove volunteers. The monarchs stay in their protected grove until February, when they continue their journey south.
250 Ridge Rd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, Phone: 831-648-5716
25.Big Sur Tours and More, Big Sur, CA
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Big Sur Tours and More is a one-person tour agency run since 1969 by Dave Engerberg, a Monterey native with an in-depth knowledge of all important spots a visitor to Big Sur should not miss. The tours are totally customized and are perfect for small groups of two or three people. Nothing is scripted, the story evolves as you pass Big Sur’s most exciting spots and most beautiful landscapes. Depending on your likes and interests, Dave will take you to Bixby Bridge, Ventana, McWay Falls, Big Sur Spirit Garden, Hawthorne Gallery, and the River Inn and Bakery. Dave picks up his guests at their door and brings them back after a day of experiencing the Big Sur adventure.
48485 California 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-241-2526
25 Best Things to Do in Big Sur
- 17-Mile Drive, Photo: Courtesy of Miles - Fotolia.com
- Andrew Molera State Park, Photo: Courtesy of rolf_52 - Fotolia.com
- California Sea Otter Game Refuge, Photo: Courtesy of Betty Sederquist - Fotolia.com
- Calla Lily Valley, Big Sur, CA, Photo: Courtesy of srongkrod - Fotolia.com
- Carmel Heritage Society, Big Sur, CA, Photo: Carmel Heritage Society
- Carmel River State Beach, Big Sur, California, Photo: Courtesy of jerdad - Fotolia.com
- Garrapata State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Frank Fennema - Fotolia.com
- Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, CA, Photo: Henry Miller Memorial Library
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Ctram - Fotolia.com
- Limekiln State Park, Big Sur, California, Photo: Courtesy of RbbrDckyBK - Fotolia.com
- Los Padres National Forest, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- McWay Falls and Waterfall House Ruins, Photo: Courtesy of tschumacher04 - Fotolia.com
- Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- Tor House and Hank Tower, Photo: Melastmohican/stock.adobe.com
- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Photo: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
- Nepenthe, Big Sur, California, Photo: Courtesy of Naeblys - Fotolia.com
- New Camaldoli Hermitage, Photo: New Camaldoli Hermitage
- Old Coast Road, Photo: Courtesy of Andy - Fotolia.com
- Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Photo: Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur, CA, Photo: Courtesy of lucky-photo - Fotolia.com
- Point Lobos National Reserve, Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Yeh - Fotolia.com
- Point Lobos Ranch, Big Sur, California, Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Yeh - Fotolia.com
- Point Sur State Historic Park, Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Yeh - Fotolia.com
- Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Photo: Courtesy of jesuschurion57 - Fotolia.com
- Big Sur Tours and More, Big Sur, CA, Photo: Courtesy of maranso - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Maks_ershov - Fotolia.com
Big Sur Hot Springs:
The majority of those who visit California’s Big Sur Coast go there for the views, but the ocean definitely isn’t the only thing worth going there for. Big Sur is also well known for its natural hot springs that can give travelers the perfect opportunity to relax.
Esalen Hot Springs
These springs have been around for more than 6,000 years and have been important to Esselen Indians and other groups as they have been used for rituals as well as healing.
Its foundation as a destination dates back to 1869 when Thomas Slate, who had severe arthritis, went to the springs after hearing about its special healing properties. He then had the property homestead by the 1880s, giving rise to a settlement called the Slates Hot Springs. This became the first tourist-oriented establishment of its kind within Big Sur, attracting those who sought the spring’s healing and relieving properties.
Later on the area was bought by Henry Murphy, a well-known doctor of Salinas. Together with his wife, Bunny, he purchased the property with the thought of establishing a European health spa near where Highway 1 was eventually constructed after a project which lasted for a period of 18 years. While it was generally called the “Slate Hot Springs”, its official business name was Big Sur Hot Springs.
Visitors who come down from the hill will be greeted by the establishment’s upper level, which is where the outdoor massage deck is found. The first thing they’re likely to notice is the roof that’s planted with grasses that are native to the coast. The upper level features a hot tub and is equipped to grant access to even handicapped visitors. Even the changing room, shower, and bathroom are wheelchair friendly.
Heading down to the lower levels will take visitors to a perpetual fountain. From there, the lower levels are divided mainly into two sides - a quiet one and a silent one. Each of these sides will have their own changing rooms, showers, and a glass wall that gives a view of the ocean. There are lots of indoor and outdoor tubs in the lower levels. In addition, there are clawfoot tubs for those who want more privacy.
Both the upper and lower levels have their massage areas. Towels are also available to guests.
Going to the springs is about relaxing and being comfortable! And while the place does welcome the idea of people opting to come without clothing, they should do so discreetly, since the place is still a public one shared by many people. Hitting the springs without any clothes is just as fine as those who go there with clothes on.
The springs, however, are not just an amenity at a resort. Those who choose to soak in the springs’ hot waters can expect utmost relaxation in an experience like no other. Meanwhile, it’s an experience worth sharing with others where they can share conversations and build bonds while enjoying the rejuvenating effects of the spring.
Sykes Hot Springs
Sykes Hot Springs is an ideal destination for backpackers who wish to end their hiking activities with a nice bath in a hot spring. With a pretty hiking trail leading to some relaxing springs in the end, those who are fit enough to venture into this spot will definitely not be disappointed.
The trail is pretty easy to follow even without a map, making it great for new and experienced hikers alike. The milestones are clearly identifiable so it’s easy to tell how far the hiker has gone so far. There is almost zero chance of being lost as well. Plus, the weather conditions are consistently fine throughout the year, so people can choose to go whenever they like.
The entire hike will take about a day to complete (after a two hour drive from the bay). From there, hikers can choose to stay in the spring area for a couple of days, which is what most visitors do. Those who wish to take this as a one day activity can do so as well. The only known downside to this is that hikers may not find much privacy, as they will be sharing the spring with others.
Those who have been through the experience have approximated about 3,000 ft. of climbing up and 2,000 ft. of going down. The trail keeps going up and down, so it does take some work to complete it. At the destination is a campsite with lots of hot springs connected to a stream. Thankfully, as mentioned before, the trail is well-maintained and is easy to follow. It will approximately take an experienced hiker five hours to finish the hike, but others prefer to take their time to enjoy the scenery, which is indeed worth the while.
The conditions of the trail tend to be mild throughout the year, but it definitely will not hurt to bring some protection from the elements (i.e. something to keep you warm and to protect you from the heat of the sun.
Hikers will want to pick up a free fire permit from the Big Sur Forest Service Station (between 8 AM to 4 PM). Note: No wilderness permit required.
After driving to the start of the trail, hikers can park their cars at the given space for $5 per night. Each night runs until 3PM.
Since hiking is an integral part of visiting the Sykes Hot Springs, make sure that you’re physically and logistically prepared for it.
Once you’re ready, making your way to the beautiful hot springs will be worth the adventure.
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Glamping in Big Sur:
Glamping is a relatively new term that was created by merging the ideas of ‘camping’ and ‘glamor’ to create a different style of vacation, combining the luxuries and comforts of modern life and the adventurous expeditions and activities of camping. Camping can be a lot of fun, but it also involves a lot of effort when it comes to setting up the tent, sleeping in the sleeping bags, and figuring out how to cope with running water and electricity. With glamping, you don’t have to worry about any of those problems as all amenities and services are provided for you.
Glamping locations can be found all around the United States, with California seeing huge numbers of glamping visitors each year. Both Northern and Southern California have a lot of great glamping sites and a lot to offer. The northern part of the state has cities like San Francisco and beautiful natural areas like the Napa Valley and the Muir Woods National Monument, while the southern half of California offers Los Angeles, Hollywood, La Jolla, the Channel Islands National Park, and more. If you’re struggling to decide between NorCal and SoCal, why not choose both?
Glamping in central California at Big Sur is a great way to enjoy all of California from one perfect location. Big Sur has some of the most scenic stretches of coastline on the planet, as well as offering easy access to many other key California locations. It’s a highly popular glamping spot with a lot of different sites to choose from, and plenty of activities to enjoy nearby. Local attractions include the Ventana Wildlife Center, the McWay Falls, the Point Sur Lightstation, and Bixby Creek Bridge.
Big Sur is a prime glamping spot, offering the perfect setting for a little adventure and escapism. This undeveloped length of coastline is the ultimate getaway spot in California, so if you’re looking to do some glamping in the area, here are the best locations to choose from.
Ventana Big Sur - 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2331
Located on the same site as the Ventana Campground, Ventana Big Sur is an incredible glamping spot. This area brings luxury and elegance into the wilderness, offering some truly beautiful safari tents, fully equipped with custom-made beds, running water, heated blankets, electrical lights, power outlets, USB ports, comfortable chairs, s'mores kits, and more. Daily activities at this location include wine-tastings, yoga glasses, wilderness hikes, on-site walks, tea classes, and more. There's even a beautiful bathhouse fitted with heated floors and luxury showers to get you ready to start the day. In short, this location offers everything you could possible need for a great glamping time at Big Sur.
Treebones Resort - 71895 California 1, Big Sur, Phone: 805-927-2390
Situated in a beautiful spot on the Big Sur coastline, Treebones Resort is fitted out with a nice selection of yurts, all offering incredible, breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding scenery. Nearby must-visit locations include Mill Creek and Sand Dollar Beach, and the Treebones Resort site also comes with its own sushi bar and full-service restaurant, as well as more traditional campfires for those who want to grill up some s’mores under the stars. The people behind Treebones really understand what makes glamping great and offer a relaxing, enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.
Glen Oaks Big Sur - 47080 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2105
Another gorgeous glamping spot at Big Sur, Glen Oaks boasts one of the best on-site restaurants you could ever hope to find and some of the most luxurious accommodation in the state. This area is a popular pick for wedding parties and other special events. The accommodation at Glen Oaks includes the Adobe Motor Lodge, Oak Tree Cottages, Bridge House, and a wide array of cabins too, all decorated and fully-furnished with modern amenities and comforts. When hunger strikes, head on down to the Big Sur Roadhouse restaurant for some top quality, locally-sourced cuisine.
Fernwood Campground and Resort - 47200 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2422
Offering both camping and glamping, Fernwood Campground and Resort is set in stunning surroundings, perfectly situated for trips to major Big Sur attractions like the Point Sur Lighthouse, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Guests at this location can choose to stay in Adventure Tents, Tent Cabins, or Forest Cabins. Each form of accommodation comes with its own advantages, with the cabins being equipped with lots of modern comforts like TVs, fitted kitchens, private bathrooms, and more.
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Hotel Spotlight: Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
Built on a cliff 1,200 feet high above the Pacific, the Post Ranch Inn is an idyllic retreat surrounded by an area of spectacular splendor and offers the ultimate destination for a luxurious escape. Embracing the dramatic beauty of the Californian coastline with breathtaking mountain, forest and ocean views, this Big Sur California luxury hotel is decorated in earthy tones and features high sweeping arches and large skylights that seamlessly blend the sanctuary with the surrounding environment. The remote and romantic hideaway features luxurious accommodations, world-class cuisine, amenities, and facilities, including a full service spa, an array of complimentary activities, and gracious hospitality.
The Post Ranch Inn features 39 guest rooms in the form of cabins, cottages, and private houses, which are set along a rocky-ridged slip of Californian cliff and have breathtaking views. Designed to blend into the surrounding landscapes and built from recycled-redwood organically, guest rooms feature plush king-size beds with down pillows, and en-suite bathrooms with two-person spa tubs, separate showers, plush bathrobes, and luxurious amenities. Airy living spaces have wood-burning fireplaces, complimentary minibars, coffee makers with gourmet coffee and tea, digital music systems with 45 channels and private decks with expansive ocean or mountain views. Some rooms have private outdoor hot tubs.
Modern amenities in all accommodations include comfortable beds with organic linens, wood-burning fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, private decks with stainless steel outdoor tubs and spectacular views, heated floors, stereos with digital music systems, iPod docking stations and fully stocked mini-bars. Other conveniences include organic bath amenities, plush terry robes, a nightly turn down service and daily housekeeping, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, in-room safes, walking sticks, and binoculars.
Two private houses, namely the Post House and the South Coast House, offer comfortable and luxurious home-away-from-home comforts, with spacious living and dining rooms, fully equipped kitchens with designer appliances and utensils, comfortable bedrooms with king or queen size beds with deluxe linens, and private bathrooms. Houses have spacious decks with outdoor hot tubs, private backyards and patios with glorious ocean views, and modern amenities.
The Post Ranch Inn is home to the acclaimed fine-dining restaurant, Sierra Mar, which serves gourmet cuisine and award-winning wines against a backdrop of breathtaking ocean views from floor to ceiling windows. Four-course, prix-fixe menus are created by Executive Chef Elizabeth Murray using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and produce and are accompanied by new- and old-world wines from both prestigious estates and desirable small producers.
Amenities & Recreation
The Post Ranch Inn offers an array of first-class amenities and facilities including a gourmet breakfast served every morning, morning yoga sessions, rejuvenating spa treatments, and complimentary shuttle services. The Ranch is home to two infinity spa pools and a heated swimming pool, as well as a fully equipped fitness center and a full service spa. Two boutique stores, the Post Gallery and the Mercantile sell a range of jewelry, clothing, fine art, homeware, and art. The hotel also offers plenty of outdoor adventures such as guided nature walks, chef tours of the kitchen garden, stargazing sessions, whale-watching, art talks, and visiting the beautiful surrounding beaches and parks.
Weddings & Events
Exuding serenity, privacy, and intimacy, the Post Ranch Inn offers a spectacular venue for wedding ceremonies, elopements, receptions, and honeymoons. The Inn can accommodate a ceremony for up to 75 people with breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean as well as more intimate options of elopement ceremonies for smaller groups on the deck of one of the private houses such as the Ocean or Cliff House. Award-winning cuisine and catering are provided by the acclaimed fine-dining restaurant, Sierra Mar, and the hotel offers a variety of exclusive packages for all budgets and desires.
47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2200
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