Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” the Big Sur, California? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Big Sur?”
Big Sur is not a “sure, maybe we’ll stop by” kind of place. It is a necessity on any trip down the California coast. The stillness of the redwoods beckon you to slow down and take a deep breath of fresh Pacific air, to forget about Zoom meetings and deadlines. With little to no cell service, it’s not like you have much of a choice. Instead, you must look up from your devices and out to the land once home to the Esselen Tribe, to its lime kilns preserved deep in the forest and its towering redwoods that still grow wild. As you drive through the Santa Lucia Mountains, you’ll see larger-than-life trees sprouting from ocean cliffs; that’s when you’ll know you’ve arrived.
The city itself has the easygoing energy of the artists and honest people who live there. You’ll be greeted by friendly faces in the many family-owned establishments. After a long day of work, the locals dine and drink with tourists, sharing the tall tales that lie between the redwoods. In the guide below, we compiled the places you need to know to get the most out of the city and its surrounding forest, plus some bonus content from the surrounding towns so you can explore the neighbors of this coastal wonderland.