Book unique cabins, lodging, and more on Airbnb
Guests agree: these stays are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.
Big Sur is both a tiny town and a vast region located about two and a half hours south of San Francisco, stretching for 90 miles along California’s Central Coast. Here, you can treat yourself to a rejuvenating weekend getaway full of towering redwood trees, breathtaking 360-degree vistas, stunning cliffs at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and trails for all levels of hikers and cyclists. Take a dip in the Big Sur River at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park before a late lunch in town, or peer through the fog line to catch a glimpse of California condors, a critically endangered species of bird whose wingspan measures up to nine feet. Whether you’re looking for an active retreat or serenity in nature, Big Sur welcomes you.
The largest airport in the area is San Francisco International Airport (SFO), but the closest to Big Sur is Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC). SFO tends to accommodate more international arrivals, but if you see a less expensive fare for SJC, snatch it up — San Jose is at least 30 minutes closer to Big Sur, depending on traffic. Rent a car at the airport to avoid a hefty taxi or rideshare bill. Driving from either airport will take you to Highway 1, which winds through Monterey County, where sea otters frolic in the bay and exquisite wine grapes grow inland in Carmel Valley.
Fans of dramatic fog and moody beaches will appreciate Big Sur from late fall through the end of winter, when the region is darker and cooler than the rest of the year. Drive with caution in January, when peak rainfall can result in slippery roads and even mudslides. Sun worshipers, fear not—you can experience Big Sur in golden light and comfort during the late spring and summer, when highs are in the upper 70s Fahrenheit. The signature fog will still make an appearance, but the rain and chilly temperatures, not so much.
One visit isn’t enough to fully appreciate the diverse landscapes and activities afforded at this intersection of mountains, forests, river, and ocean. Channel your inner adventurer on the eight-mile Mount Manuel Trail to be rewarded with views of the Santa Lucia Mountains, or enjoy shorter trails that lead to and along the Big Sur River.
An easy half-mile hike through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will lead you to McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that flows year-round. Time your trek right to witness the waterfall splashing directly into the Pacific Ocean at high tide.
Built in 1932, this feat of engineering creates a path between staggering cliffs and allows cars to pass 230 feet above Bixby Creek. There are multiple opportunities to pull over for a clear view of the iconic structure that is often featured in car commercials.
Late-19th-century developers burned redwoods and limestone in enormous kilns to extract pure lime for construction purposes, stopping only when the area was completely depleted. Decades later, the natural resources were allowed to restore themselves, and now visitors can hike through both the limekiln ruins and the rejuvenated landscape.