Even in the rain, Big Sur is a remarkable place to explore.
We holed up here recently on a particularly showery weekend, which didn't stop us from exploring beaches and redwoods or foraging for high gastronomy. (It also didn't stop us from bunkering in our room, fireplace ablaze, for cozy afternoons). With its rugged coastline and thick forests and view-tastic luxury inns, it's no wonder Sean Parker, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss, Andy Samberg, and Joanna Newsom flock here to steal away. But you don't need to take a cue from Hollywood's A-list. You already knew how special this place was.
Bixby Creek Bridge (pictured above)
You know you're entering Big Sur (from the north) once you've crossed the bridge. Though it's not the original iconic one from 1932, it's a brand new, shiny version that has allowed businesses in the area to reopen.
Dudes. There's purple sand at this hidden beach. And natural archways in the rock. We're not saying that you should visit this oceanfront for all your sun worshipping needs, but if you need a crazy cool backdrop for your engagement photos, or if you want to say that you've actually been to a beach with wine-hued sand, then put this secret spot on your itinerary. And for god's sake, don't attempt to swim the waters. // Sycamore Canyon Road, Hwy. 1, discover-central-california.com/pfeiffe...
Glen Oaks Big Sur
Tuck in at Glen Oaks Big Sur, where chic and cozy cottages, set in a thick redwood forest, are appointed with cool midcentury trappings, gas fireplaces, and sexy double showers (or, in the case of the Big Sur cabin, twin vintage clawfoot tubs). You'll rise and slumber to the sound of the Big Sur River rushing mere yards away from your front porch. The on-property restaurant, the Big Sur Roadhouse, serves generous portions of full-flavored Cajun fare—think rich seafood gumbo and super fresh catch-of-the-day po' boys. The eatery is a favorite spot among the locals, and you can't get a better endorsement than that. // 47080 Hwy. 1, glenoaksbigsur.com
One extraordinary experience that should be required of any Big Sur getaway is the nine-course Taste of Big Sur prix fixe menu ($175 per person) at the famed Post Ranch Inn. Executive chef John Cox takes his utmost inspiration from the land, translating its rich history and nature into such visionary plates as ember roasted black mussels with acorn “sand" and seaweed; hay-roasted, goose liver-stuffed quail (inspired by, but not sourced from, thank god, the property's bird population); and a chocolate and eucalyptus dessert that nods to the fragrant trees on the property. Each dish comes with a bit of lovely storytelling by the server, and when you reach the end, you're crazy sad it's over. You think about the feast for days to come. And as much as you wish you could eat such inspired meals everyday, you know that the frequency would only diminish the specialness of it all.
Here, a powdered sugar-dusted almond croissant will literally cost you $8, but it'll be the best $8 you ever spent. Though the beloved restaurant doesn't start table service until mid-morning, early risers can begin the day right with a mug of third-wave joe and an overdose of puff pastry in all its delicious incarnations. // 47540 Hwy. 1
Here's a tip: Skip the hordes of raucous families that descend upon Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and instead head half an hour south to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park instead, where the redwood forest is prettier and quieter. Take a hike on the Ewoldsen Trail, a five-miler with long stretches of uphill that are guaranteed to put some junk in your trunk, but the beauty of the terrain takes your mind off the grind. Depending on which way you venture the loop, the ocean-view mileage could come at the beginning or end; either way, you earn the panorama by reaching altitude, so make sure your legs are ready to burn. // 47555 Hwy. 1