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The Big Sur is one of the most scenic highways in the US, which is why we are sharing these tips for those planning a Bur Sur day trip!

What is the Big Sur?

Today we are sharing how to visit the Big Sur – perfect for a Californian road trip. We cover visiting the Big Sur all year round in this Big Sur travel video as well as how to drive the Big Sur, cities near the Big Sur and restaurants on the Big Sur. Experience the ultimate California road trip by driving the Big Sur.

This 85-mile scenic route from LA to San Francisco, sits between San Simeon and Carmel, along the California coastline.

Firstly, Come prepared for this trip, as there are some amazing views that can easily be missed.

From Los Angeles, the Big Sur trip takes 3.5 – 4 hours to drive, and another 2-hour drive from Carmel (end of the Big Sur) to San Francisco.

Big Sur Day Trip

Things to know before visiting Big Sur

  • Plan your trip – Plan your trip in advance, deciding where you want to hike, eat and explore and plot these out on a map.
  • Do not rely on Google maps or any apps; phone service isn’t reliable along the Big Sur.
  • If you are in a rush, skip it – You should give at least a day to visit Big Sur. Yes, the drive can be taken in a few hours but there is no point rushing through. If you are in a rush, use the freeway instead.
  • You don’t need to stay overnight – Although there are rustic rental cabins or boutique-style inns that you can stay in, it is not essential. Give yourself a full day to explore Big Sur but don’t stay along the coastline, as rooms start at $300 but can cost all the way up to $1000 per night. If you do want to stay overnight, check out Airbnb or flip key for better deals than the overpriced camping options or hotels along the coastline. There are some fantastic Big Sur Airbnbs with amazing views, so make sure to check them out before you plan a trip.
  • Stay either end – If you do want to stay along the coastline, staying at either end offers better value. Avoid Monterey Peninsula at the northern gateway and instead, head to the town of Pacific Grove for better deals. At the southern gateway, the beach town of Cayucos is pretty, charming, and affordable.
  • It’s a tourist trap – Big Sur is breathtaking but it is extremely touristy. Hotels, restaurants, and even some attractions will be ridiculously overpriced, so either go in with that expectation of preparing snacks and decide on your must-see attractions.
  • Don’t just stick to Highway 1 – Head off the beaten path and explore other routes such as the Palo Colorado Road or the Nacimiento Road.
  • Plan time in the nearby cities – don’t just head straight to San Francisco or Los Angeles when you are done. The nearby cities such as Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara are must-see destinations and make sure to cruise in a party bus when in San Jose, CA. 

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Hank Johnson

Friday 13th of May 2022

I love road trips! The more scenic, the better. Thanks for the warning about tourist traps! I love the idea of being able to stop, and do an amazing hike to stretch the legs.

MOST UNIQUE HOTELS IN THE US • Creative Travel Guide

Friday 14th of May 2021

[…] the most unique places in California if what you’re looking for is a really quirky stay. Set in Big Sur, this glamping-style hotel consists mostly of fun yurts, all of which come equipped with cozy beds […]

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