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Five Must-Visit Stops on a Big Sur Road Trip

Few would argue against Big Sur as one of the great road trips, not just in America, but the entire world.  While the entire length of the California coastline is known for its dramatic landscape, rugged coastline, and sweeping views, Big Sur ups the ante. Today we highlight a few of the best stops on a Big Sur road trip.

Pfeiffer Beach. Keep a keen eye out for Pfeiffer Beach – blink and you might miss it. The sharp turn-off is located just north of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and once you pull in, you’ll still have a 5 to 10 minute drive down the narrow, winding road. However, guests are greeted with one of the most unique beaches in California. Of particular note is the unusual, yet colorful purple sand of Pfeiffer Beach. While you’ll want to bundle up, stick around for sunset, when the light shines through the famous rock arch, just beyond the crashing waves.

McWay Falls. McWay Falls is an easy stop while traveling through Big Sur, located right on Highway 1. This is where you’ll likely see the highest concentration of vehicles pulled off to the side of the road. Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the 80-foot waterfall is unique to the region because it’s one of a few that empty into the ocean. While the waterfall isn’t exactly accessible, there are several good photo opportunities on the trail above.

Nepenthe. After you climb up the stairs and reach Nepenthe Restaurant, you’ll immediately see why it’s on this list: Not for the food, but rather the view, sitting atop Big Sur looking over the rocky coastline and Pacific Ocean. While it features a full food menu, I recommend opting for one of the cheese plates, and supplementing it with a glass or bottle of wine. If you arrive during off-peak times, you should be able to snag one of the prime real estate seats on the outdoor patio looking south over Big Sur and the Pacific Ocean.

Henry Miller Memorial Library. A library? Yes, a library, but not just any ordinary library, but more of a bookstore and arts center. Seeing an outdoor concert is the biggest perk of the library. How many times have you been to a concert with redwoods towering over you and the Pacific Ocean mere yards away? Upcoming concerts include The Flaming Lips, Rufus Wainwright, and Alanis Morissette.

Bixby Creek Bridge. You’ve probably already seen the Bixby Creek Bridge even if you’ve never been to Big Sur. That’s because the bridge is one of the most photographed attractions in California and has been featured in commercials, movies, and television shows. Coming from Monterey, it’s one of the first real dramatic views you see upon entering the Big Sur area. While it’s only 714-feet long, it’s the height, arch, and view of the coastline and Pacific Ocean that make it so photogenic.