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15 Ways To Make Your Big Sur Road Trip (Even More) UNFORGETTABLE

unforgettable big sur road trip tips, big sur road trip, best of big sur, what to see in big sur, where to go in big surAaaa. Big Sur (deep breath in). 90 miles of scenic, winding coastline supported by the mighty Santa Lucia Mountains rising abruptly from the Pacific, abounding with soaring birds, golden-watercolored sunsets and an air that blankets everything with a sense of endless adventure, unparalleled peace and an undeniable feeling of gratitude for all things simple and good.

big sur roadtrip, things to do in big sur, what to do in big sur, big sur road trip, best tips for big sur, big sur fun, romantic big surNoted as a sparsely populated region along the Central Coast of California, Big Sur’s stunning topography offers its guests some of the most incredible terrain found anywhere IN THE WORLD. So how do you make an already extraordinary place EVEN MORE unforgettable?! We’ll help show you how:

big sur at night, stars and ocean, night photography, stars in the sky1. Give yourself TIME.

lovers point monterey bay, 17 mile loop monterey, couple on a benchThe last thing you want to do when you finally get to this slice of heaven on earth is rush. We gave ourselves 5 full days to travel from North to South, starting in Monterey Bay driving down to the Elephant Seals in San Simeon. If you want to visit Hearst Castle toss another day in there, and if time is on your side we feel 8 days would be ideal. Between the world-class beaches, rolling surf, hiking trails, hammock-friendly trees, fresh air and endless moments of enjoyment, the more time you have to spare, the more memories you’ll have to revel in for years to come.

lovers point monterey bay, 17 mile loop monterey, couple on a bench2. Starting in Monterey Bay, be sure to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, voted the best aquarium in the world!:

monterey bay aquarium, amazing aquarium, california sea life, mr and mrs adventure big sur, big sur road trip

monterey bay aquarium, amazing aquarium, california sea life, jelly fish, orange jelly fishVibrant jellies, hungry sea otters, clumsy penguins and an aquarium that’s larger than life, we can promise that you will never forget your experience at this seaside gem.

monterey bay aquarium, amazing aquarium, california sea life, aquarium adventures

monterey bay aquarium, amazing aquarium, california sea life, mr and mrs adventure big sur, clown fish, nemo fish monterey bay aquarium

monterey bay aquarium, amazing aquarium, california sea life, jelly fish, white jelly fishBe sure to watch our 2 minute clip featuring the most stunning moments from our visit:

3. Watch the surfers, the waves and simply enjoy the ambiance offered at Lover’s Point:

Monterey Bay Waves, waves gif

lovers point monterey bay, 17 mile loop monterey, couple on a bench4. Bike the best parts of the famous 17-Mile Drive:

bike monterey bay, bike big sur, monterey bay 17 mile loop

bike monterey bay, bike big sur, monterey bay 17 mile loopIf you want to avoid riding on some serious roads that lack any form of bike lanes, start near Cannery Row and ride down Ocean View Boulevard towards Pebble Beach, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch from the Pebble Beach Market before looping back from here. Trust us, unless you’re on a Roadie and like the adrenaline rush of biking next to cars, turn around here (maybe even before). Along our recommended trail you will see sites such as the Restless Sea, Seal Rock, Fanshell Overlook and our fave, the Lone Cypress:

17 mile drive monterey, the lone cypress

lovers point monterey bay, 17 mile loop monterey, surfers california, big sur surfers5. Stop in Carmel-by-the-Sea (popular amongst the “newly wed and nearly dead”) for a quick photo op in one of the historic Monterey Cypress Trees right on the beach. This beauty below is located at the very end of Ocean Ave (map):

carmel by the sea, tree on beach carmel, best photo spots in carmel6. Before diving into the heart of Big Sur, one MUST visit and experience the beauty that is Point Lobos:

point lobos, hiking point lobos, couple in point lobosRecommended by one of our dearest friend couples, we meandered along the flowing hiking trails that lined the coast only to discover that the views and opportunities for romance were absolutely endless.

point lobos, hiking point lobos, couple in point lobos

point lobos, hiking point lobosTips: Park for free right outside the park, 5-6 hours is ideal, bring a picnic, the park closes at sundown.

point lobos, hiking point lobos, couple in point lobos7. Pull off right before crossing the famous Bixby Bridge, one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world and the most photographed bridge along the PCH, for a scene you’ve likely only ever seen in car commercials:

bixby bridge, big sur road trip

bixby bridge, big sur road trip Fun Fact: It was built entirely by prisoners! 

bixby bridge, big sur road trip Tip: Stand on the rock for an even better view and don’t forget to look down:

big sur, rock cave big sur, amazing cliffs california, cliff cave big sur, bixby bridge rock arch8. Stop to admire the Point Sur Lighthouse (tours on weekends), built in 1889!

point sur lighthouse, historic light house, lighthouse california

point sur lighthouse, historic light house, lighthouse california9. Hike one of our favorites, the 8.8-mile Andrew Molera Loop (4-5 hours total).

Andrew Molera MapThe trailhead is located on the Western edge of the parking lot, where you will cross a small river. The Creamery Meadow Trail then guides you towards the beach (very flat), followed by a steep incline up the Ridge Trail where you will eventually be treated to a lush canopy of trees.

andrew molera state park, ridge trail andrew molera, big sur hikesBefore you know it you will come to a clearing and VOILA, the best view in the entire park awaits:

big sur roadtrip, things to do in big sur, what to do in big sur, big sur road trip, best tips for big sur, big sur fun, romantic big surDrew brushing off his shoulder, feeling quite accomplished at this point:

andrew molera state park, ridge trail andrew molera, big sur hikesAfter taking a moment’s rest, or perhaps enjoying a light picnic, you will pick the trail back up and follow along the Panorama Trail (no shade), eventually this trail will merge with the Bluffs trail, which offers sweeping ocean views, and finally you’ll be headed back along the good ole’ Creamery Meadow Trail.

andrew molera state park, ridge trail andrew molera, big sur hikes10. Refuel (you and your vehicle) at the adorable vintage bus + gas station at The Big Sur River Inn:

big sur river inn, vintage bus gas station store, big sur road trip One of the most interesting aspects of Big Sur is that, due to its dedicated residents, it has been spared the rising tides of modern development. With billboards and ALL other visual distractions on Highway 1 entirely BANNED, this rugged gem has adopted one of the most stringent land use plans in the Nation, prohibiting any new construction within sight of the highway. This little gas station is the most “modern” thing you’ll find around.

big sur river inn, vintage bus gas station store, big sur road trip 11. Share a romantic sunset at McWay Falls:

mcway falls sunset, julia pfeiffer waterfall into ocean, tidefalls, mcway falls adventure

andrew molera state park, ridge trail andrew molera, big sur hikes

mcway falls sunset, julia pfeiffer waterfall into ocean, tidefalls, mcway falls adventureThis famed 80-foot waterfall flows year-round and is one of only two in the region that are close enough to the ocean to be referred to as a “tidefall.”

mcway falls sunset, julia pfeiffer waterfall into ocean, tidefalls, mcway falls adventure12. Go public night bathing in the Esalen hot springs from 1-3am, seriously DO IT.

esalen hot springs, night bathing esalen, big sur road tripDefinitely one for the open-minded and adventurous, Esalen’s hot springs are heated by the molten core of the earth and possess deeply rejuvenating properties providing a place of refuge, reverence, healing, and contemplation for visitors. Reservations for night bathing must be made day-of between 9am and noon, it’s $30 per person (worth every penny), clothing is optional, silence is encouraged and photos are prohibited. Think crashing waves, shooting stars and warm, soothing waters all around.

big sur at night, stars and ocean, night photography, stars in the sky13. Stay at Treebones.

treebones, the nest big sur, human nest, giant nest, where is treebones

treebones, the nest big sur, human nest, giant nest, where is treebonesNote: There is only one “Nest,” which books out way in advance, so plan ahead if you can see yourself curling up with your favorite book in here:

tree bones resort, treebones, the nest big sur, human nest, giant nest, where is treebones14. Observe and admire the San Simeon Elephant Seals:

san simeon, elephant seals, friends of the elephant seal, san simeon elephant seals,

san simeon, elephant seals, friends of the elephant seal, san simeon elephant seals,As you can see in the photo above, they were everywhere, sun bathing, napping, snuggling, fighting, swimming, barking, throwing sand on themselves, scratching their bellies and seriously looking cute. Just look at that little face:

san simeon, elephant seals, friends of the elephant seal, san simeon elephant seals,15. Last but not least, plan not to plan. 

big sur sunset, monterey bay sunset, california sunset, couple silhouette sunsetEmbrace the freedom to stop wherever your heart desires. Whether it’s a sunset, a beach, an art gallery, a campground, a rock to climb, a park to explore, or one of the many pull-offs with awe-inspiring, priceless views. Allow yourself the gift of following your intuition, travel slow and ENJOY BEING PRESENT.

mcway falls sunset, julia pfeiffer waterfall into ocean, tidefalls, mcway falls adventureBig Sur, afterall, is more of a state of mind than a place on the map, and that is something you definitely don’t want to miss.

big sur sunset, monterey bay sunset, california sunset, couple silhouette sunset

mcway falls sunset, julia pfeiffer waterfall into ocean, tidefalls, mcway falls adventure

 

12 Comments

  1. Reply

    Tricia @ www.roadtriptheworld.com

    December 3, 2015

    Heading to California this summer and including some time in Big Sur. Thanks so much for the ideas of what to see while there. Your pictures are amazing!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      December 4, 2015

      There’s even more magic to discover than what we were able to share!! You will have an incredible, unique, unforgettable time. I think it maybe my favorite place in all of the US <3 Feel free to send us your fave pic and we'll share it on our insta! Happy weekend 🙂

  2. Reply

    Jashua Patricio

    November 18, 2015

    Thank you for the ideas and inspiration for my next trip. I drove through Big Sur a few years ago not knowing some of the local gems to visit. I’ll have to try the night time hot spring while I’m there next time.

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      November 20, 2015

      Hey Josh, glad you found us and even happier you wrote! The hot spring experience was UNREAL, it still feels like a dream… Actually all of Big Sur feels like a dream… Any reason to go back is way worth it!

  3. Reply

    Gloria

    November 17, 2015

    Oh My I’m loving Big Sur through your travels!!! Loving it! We went last summer only stayed for four nights. So much to see and do. Thank you for this write up! I’m going to use it for my next trip !!!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      November 18, 2015

      Aww! We are so glad you took the time to write!! One thing’s certain, you can never go to Big Sur too many times… We miss it already 🙂

  4. Reply

    Hilary

    November 17, 2015

    Did you just go to Big Sur recently? I’m thinking about road tripping out there at the end of this week for my birthday with my fiance! But I wasn’t sure if it’d still be super pretty during the wintery months!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      November 17, 2015

      Hi Hilary! Yes, we were there the 1st week of November (less than 2 weeks ago) and it was absolutely gorgeous! Be sure to check the weather, bring warm gear (it was pretty chilly and will probably only continue to get colder) and you may want to consider in door sleeping arrangements vs. camping. The weather during the winter months is generally even more gorgeous because you don’t have to deal with the marine layer (fog) that’s especially apparent during the summer. Hope that helps and HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  5. Reply

    Josh

    November 17, 2015

    This is a truly fantastic post, nice work 🙂

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      November 17, 2015

      Thanks for taking the time to check out our post. We knew you would like it 🙂

  6. Reply

    Mero

    November 17, 2015

    You always have such amazing pictures, but I especially love these!!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      November 17, 2015

      Thanks Mero!! Big Sur was the perfect model 😉

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