Must See Big Sur Destinations

In the span of 3 years, my wife and I have camped 5 times in Big Sur, California.  We immensely enjoy the beautiful scenery and irresistible stopovers in Big Sur’s 90 miles (145 km) Highway One coastline from Ragged Point to Carmel. See There are more or less 15 camping grounds (with a total of over a hundred campsites) to choose from in Big Sur. There are also about 15 resort lodges or inns in the area. See

These are our favorite stopovers thus far from north to south:

  • Bixby Bridge - 18 miles south of Carmel stands one of the world's highest single-span concrete arch bridges. Over 260 feet high and over 700 feet long, this structure is said to be the most photographed object along the coastal route.


  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – The Park is 37 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. Don't confuse the Julia Pfeiffer-Burns State Park with the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is 12 miles or so north. The must-see in this park is McWay Falls,   an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean.  Aside from the falls, the park also has trails, picnic areas and environmental campsites on the west side of Highway 1. There are other trails of on the east side of the Highway  and for  an update about their condition please see

  • Pfeifer Big State Beach - Going south, turn right at mile marker 45.64 of Highway 1. There is a sign for Pfeiffer Beach once you turn right off the unmarked downhill one-lane road. Follow this windy Sycamore canyon road 2 miles down to where it ends at the sands and rugged rocks of Pfeiffer Beach.

  • The Camaldoli Hermitage – This monastery is located at Lucia, about 25 miles south of Big Sur village, about 50 miles south of Carmel, and 85 miles north of San Luis Obispo. (See  Go up the two-mile road going to this hermitage perhaps not because you may want to become a monk, to have a catholic religious retreat or to hear mass but to enjoy  wonderful vistas, have a picnic and finally to go the site’s bookstore. Be introduced to the paintings of Father Arthur Poulin (see, browse the bookstore’s interdenominational collection of spiritual books and CDs, religious icons from various countries  and try the store’s yummy fruitcakes.

  • Kirk Creek Campground area – 53 miles north of Carmel (3 miles from Lucia) is the Kirk Creek Campground. Forbes magazine and Sunset magazine put Kirk Creek as one of the top ten best campgrounds in America. Aside from having a scenic coastal camping area, it has trails going up the Los Padres National Forest and one trail adjacent a creek going down to the rocky beach.

  • The Ragged Point Inn vicinity –This is the place to stopover to see a beautiful garden and Big Sur's rocky coastline at no cost especially if you do not want to travel all the way up north. Lodging, meals, and gasoline here are of course not free.

Additional must-see:

Before going back home south or north, you may want to take a road less traveled: Take Highway 46 West and go east towards Paso Robles. Enjoy rolling hills filled with vineyards, and majestic oaks  and hop from one winery to another for a wine tasting trip. See (Let me dwell more on this next time.)

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