Big Sur is not just a destination, it’s a state of mind. Stretching 90 miles between Monterey Bay and San Simeon on the west coast of central California, Big Sur’s remote location, peaceful nature and incomparable beauty entices visitors to change gears, both figuratively and literally. Pacific Coast Highway, which was built less than 100 years ago, is the main road that runs through the region and becomes the most scenic in Big Sur. Sitting high above the surf, the highway clings to the edge of the area’s cliffs, providing spectacular views as it weaves in and out of the seemingly endless coastline. Driving conditions aside, Big Sur’s calming culture is contagious, and has been known to attract minds of all kinds seeking inspiration, refuge or transformation. It was Jack Kerouac who took off to Big Sur in search of inner peace, as recounted in his novel “Big Sur.” Fellow writer Henry Miller called Big Sur the first place he felt at home in America, later penning the memoir “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch.” Since then, countless musicians, artists, writers and photographers have chronicled Big Sur’s powerful presence in their work, yet travelers say its grandeur remains indescribable.
Today, Big Sur draws millions of visitors every year, but it still hasn’t lost its sense of place. Independent art galleries dot the highway, sharing space with wellness retreats and cliffside eateries. But the diverse landscape trumps all of the area’s amenities by a landslide, with state parks and beaches reigning supreme as the main attractions. Mountains, beaches, rivers, valleys, creeks, coves, wildflowers and wildlife linger at every turn. That is, if you can find them. Some of Big Sur’s natural attractions are intentionally unmarked to preserve the sense of seclusion that the region is so famous for. Some areas, believe it or not, still don’t have electricity. Big Sur, however, is meant to be an experience rather than just a typical vacation. So kick back, unwind, and open your eyes and ears to the sights and sounds of Big Sur.