Big Sur is a coastal region in central California bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Santa Lucia Mountains to the east. As one of the state’s most beautiful coastal stretches, Big Sur is extremely popular among tourists. Visitors can drive along 85 miles of breathtaking scenery, trek up the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous 48 states, and explore the top spot for weddings and couples’ getaways.
“Big Sur” is derived from the Spanish language: “el sur grande,” which means “the big south” or “el país grande del sur,” “the big country of the south.” Historically, the name referenced the vast, unchartered region south of Monterey. Though it has still retained a lot of its natural charm, the area now sees a ton of traffic from people who come to see the wildlife.
Driving along the California coast is a must. The California Coastal One Highway that runs through Big Sur is so renowned that it’s a destination itself. It is a designated American National Scenic Byway and California Scenic Highway, which is a highway honor reserved for the best of the best. If you want to venture off the road, Big Sur’s Cone Peak, the highest coastal mountain, is just three miles from the ocean. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is also where you can do activities like kayaking or scuba diving. It also has an aquarium, and 267 miles of one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. When you get hungry, the “Best Restaurant in California” according to Zagat, is also in Big Sur. And when you decide you need to take in more of the view, both looking at the Bixby Creek Bridge and looking out from it will give you a sense of why the BCB is one of the most photographed structures along the West Coast.
Big Sur is 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles from Los Angeles. That means a couple of hours’ of driving, if you want to get out to the big city. If you want to stay closer to Big Sur, the city of Monterey is less than an hour’s drive away. You can visit Old Fisherman’s Wharf, which has been one of the city’s top tourist destinations for over 50 years. You can try samples of clam chowder from the vendors, or watch otters and sea lions playing in the water. Monterey is also home to California’s State Landmark #1, the Custom House, which is the oldest government building in the state. Carmel is also less than an hour’s drive from Big Sur, and where you can check out Carmel-by-the-Sea, “the legendary artists’ colony that once had Clint Eastwood as its mayor.” This town has a storybook ambiance that makes it one of the “World’s Best Cities for Romance,” according to Travel and Leisure. Parts of the Los Padres National Forest are also near Big Sur. It’s a popular destination for hiking and camping.
Whether you want to glam up your stay in Big Sur by staying at a luxury vacation rental, or rough it on the campgrounds along the Big Sur River, accommodations here are diverse and plentiful. Lodging along the Big Sur River has a rustic feel, as many of the accommodation options are reminiscent of the 1930’s and 40’s. You’ll find some of the first resorts built in Big Sur, as well as accommodations renovated from old toll stations, homesteads, and cabins. There are also home and cabin rentals to be found among the redwoods of Big Sur’s parks. The Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park area offers lodge-style housing in the form of cabins. Glen Oaks is another area where modern and cozy accommodations are nestled in among the redwoods. If you want a majestic cliff-side view from a luxury setting, the Ragged Point area has options to consider. For accommodations in less of a nature-centric location, check out places near the Village Shops or the Ranger Station. Also, there are a number of art galleries south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and north of Partington Cove, so tourists who want to squeeze in a bit of creative inspiration between those nature walks can give this area a try.
Driving on Highway 1 is a must, but if you don’t have a car, there are other ways of getting around in Big Sur. In terms of getting into Big Sur, the closest airport services are in Monterey. The Monterey Airbus, AMTRAK and Greyhound bus lines also offer services in and out of central California. There is public transportation from Monterey to Big Sur on Monterey-Salinas Transit. The MST goes as far north as San Jose and south to Paso Robles. MST’s Big Sur service operates daily during the summer months, but only on Saturdays and Sundays during the off-season. Car rentals are available at the Monterey Peninsula Airport, and Carmel has a taxi service for additional ground transportation.
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These homes offer a range of amenities, giving you more bang for your buck. For those looking to stay in a corporate rental, 18 of Big Sur’s rentals offer high speed internet so you can easily keep in touch with your company or team. Go for a swim at one of the 3 properties complete with pool or jacuzzi, or relax with a night of cable TV in any of our 13 cozy homes.
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