I can’t remember when my boyfriend and I first heard of Big Sur, but ever since we first found out about the incredible California coastline, it jumped to the top of our bucket list. We couldn’t get this beautiful place out of our heads.
We are probably the only two people on Earth who still occasionally check Groupon but thank God we are grandparents at heart because that’s how we discovered Escape campervans and decided to go with a campervan instead of a rental car. Read more about my experience in an Escape campervan here. I am very proud of us for making this decision. We actually didn’t use a Groupon for our van because we rented it during the black out dates but that’s how we first discovered the company!
So Big Sur refers to the California coast between Carmel and San Simeon. The road is Highway 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway. This place is clearly so epic it has to have three names.
If you’re planning to go anywhere in Big Sur, make sure you do your research and plan your itinerary beforehand because there is no cell phone service. I actually liked that this forces you to stay off your phone and enjoy your surroundings, but just make sure you know the name of the place you’re going! If you really get lost, remember it’s just one road so you’re probably going to come across your destination at some point 😉
Since we only had one day to explore Big Sur, we wanted to visit the most talked about places, but you could honestly spend a week alone in Big Sur. I used this helpful map to plan our hikes.
If you plan on camping in Big Sur like we did, I would suggest making a reservation early. The sites fill up very fast. We were lucky to score a spot at Plaskett Creek Campground which ended up being our favorite campground of our whole trip! This might be weird but the thing I remember most is how good this campground smelled. I’m not sure what kind of trees they were but the smell of the trees, fresh air, and campfires was heavenly.
We started off our day in Big Sur by stopping at the most famous landmark, Bixby Bridge. The pictures don’t do it justice! You need to see it for yourself.
After stopping at the bridge, we headed to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This park is home to the famous McWay Falls which is a small waterfall that flows onto the beach and then into the bright blue water.
The McWay Falls trail is more of a walk and is perfect for anyone. It involves going through a tunnel which made me happy because I have a strange love of tunnels. We wanted a more challenging hike so next we embarked on the Ewoldsen Trail. This trailhead is also in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park so it was perfect.
The Ewoldsen Trail is a 4.5 mile moderate hike that gives you the perfect sampling of what Big Sur is all about. First you walk through a redwood filled forest where I’m convinced fairies and elves live.
After walking through the forest, you’ll start to consistently gain elevation with a series of switchbacks and the rest of the hike is pretty much up, up, up. It definitely was a good work out! The best part is when you get to the top, there’s little paths off the main path that have the most amazing view of the ocean! I wasn’t expecting the view when I ventured off the main path and so I literally gasped when I saw it. It’s the perfect reward for all of your hard work.
After the hike we headed to Plaskett Creek Campground. The best part about this campground (besides the smell) is right across the street is Sand Dollar Beach. All you have to do is walk across the street. Since we arrived late in the day, we made it to Sand Dollar Beach just in time for sunset. It was one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. Although you can walk down onto the actual beach if you want, we chose to watch from a higher viewpoint above the beach. We also saw an owl in a tree and since I’ve loved owls since I was little, it was pretty much the best day ever.