Skip to main content

Every Stop You Need to Make When Driving in Big Sur

Every Stop You Need to Make When Driving in Big Sur

While many Californians argue whether SoCal or NorCal is the best, there’s one thing that everyone agrees on—Big Sur is the best.


5 min read

June 19, 2021

Big Sur has been described as a national treasure that demands extraordinary procedures to protect it from development.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.
The name "Mountain of Gold" comes from the golden wildflowers found in Montaña de Oro State Park.
The Salinan and Chumash tribes consider Morro Rock to be a sacred site. The Salinan name for Morro Rock is Le'samo and the Chumash name is Lisamu.
The park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a respected resident and rancher in the Big Sur region in the early 20th century.
Garrapata State Park has two miles of beachfront, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a view of the Pacific Ocean.

Garrapata State Park

Are you really surprised to make a stop at another state park? We warned you. Garrapata State Park, located south of Carmel, boasts two miles of beachfront and offers fantastic coastal hiking trails. The 2,939-acre state park may not be on everyone’s Big Sur road trip itinerary, but we beg to differ. One of the things that makes this place so special is the wildlife viewing opportunities. You’ll catch a glimpse of California sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters when exploring Garrapata. If you’re visiting during the migrating season, keep an eye out on gray whales traveling to Baja California—driving in Big Sur has never been this spectacular. 

A great way to explore the dramatic waterfront on the Big Sur coast is to take a hike down the action-packed Partington Cove Trail.

Partington Cove

Partington Cove is a hidden gem and one of the best places on your Big Sur road trip. Lying two miles north of Julia Pfeiffer Burn State Park, the cove offers a short hike with a lot to see. Coastal yellow wildflowers set against the crashing waves on the rocky shore create a setting unlike any other. Stroll over wooden bridges, get lost in a forest of redwoods, and run through old tunnels to see the light at the very end—playful sea otters splashing in the water welcome you to Partington Cove.  

Each year in December and January, photographers crowd Pfeiffer Beach to obtain pictures of the setting sun visible through the Keyhole Arch.

Pfeiffer Beach

Another must-add on your Big Sur itinerary, Pfeiffer Beach is one of the most romantic beaches you’ll ever visit. Is it the massive rock arches that make it such a unique place, or is it the glittering purple sands that illuminate the beach? Whatever it is, we’re not complaining. Plan to stop by at Pfeiffer Beach during the golden hour to watch the last rays of daylight pass through the Keyhole Arch. We don’t know about you, but we’re always down to chill on a purple sand beach after driving in Big Sur for hours. 

Bixby Creek Bridge has been featured on postcards, TV ads, everywhere. *Cue the theme song to Big Little Lies*

Bixby Creek Bridge

There’s one more iconic stop to make on your Big Sur scenic drive—the Bixby Creek Bridge. As the most photographed landmark in the Golden State, this marvelous site is the highest single-span arch bridge in the world. With dramatic views in every direction, this photogenic bridge takes your breath away every single time. If you’re driving from San Francisco, your journey to Big Sur begins with cruising on the Bixby Creek Bridge.

Where should we stop next time we’re driving in Big Sur? Let us know in the comments below. 

California voices


Have a great story to tell? A unique experience to write about? We’d love to hear it.

Learn more

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We’re committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that’s just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section