Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Favorite Stops in Big Sur

I think Big Sur is one of my favorite spots in California, maybe the world, and with the warm fall weather California is having, I wanted to share some great spots to visit there.

These photos were from a late spring visit, but fall is a perfect time too. The weather tends to be even nicer than summer. This was a day trip, but we spent the night in nearby Carmel, which is just half hour or more drive to Big Sur depending on your destination. 

The drive is one of the best parts. It can be foggy in mornings, but most days it burns off by afternoon and can get very sunny and warm.

One happening spot on the way for breakfast or lunch is The Big Sur Bakery.

Charmingly housed in a cottage with an adjoining garden and a makeshift art gallery, it's worth a stop. They have fantastic cappuccinos and pastries and sell their own granola among other cute items.

Plants really seem to thrive here with the mix of fog and sun!

Some of the art and a stick sculpture in the garden.

Love, love, love this place!! So Northern Cal.

They have a cookbook out now, The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook.

Our goal this day ways to take a small hike at Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park and lunch later.
This beautiful state park is about 37 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.

We did the Ewoldson Trail, which was under 5 miles and crosses small streams. 
There are some of 2,500 year old redwoods in this park!

Mischief! The boys made a seesaw with logs and scrambled up the trails faster than we could. There are bridges and streams to hop and cross and a few banana slugs to check out as well.

A squiggly redwood, which is a genetic mutation of the tree. Beautiful!

Took some fail selfies. :D

An alligator-like log we found. 

At the end, of the trail, you can walk a short distance and see the famous McWay Falls and an amazing hidden beach.

 Looking at McWay Cove from the Waterfall Overlook Trail.

The sun was  beginning to push the fog away and boys were hungry, so it was time for lunch at another Big Sur landmark, Nepenthe.

Nepenthe is a breathtaking spot perched above the Pacific. This multi-level restaurant and gathering spot has been serving travelers, artists and Bohemians since 1949. It's open most everyday of the year for lunch and dinner.

 The colorful outdoor seating area by the entrance.

We chose to eat inside as it was still a bit chilly. It's still like open-air dining though, with 
great views, but heaters and a fire pit. 

This day the fog obscured some of the ocean, but it was still gorgeous.
(My son Griffin had just shaved his head for St Baldrick's Day!)

Love this fence on at Nepenthe made of the squiggly redwood.

The long outdoor tables are good for people watching and panoramic views on clear days.

I bought the pretty, My Nepenthe cookbook at The Phoenix Shop, below the restaurant, which is always good to peruse after a meal. The book chronicles the story of Nepenthe and the talented Fassett family who have run it all these years. I'm crazy for the photographs and recipes. It's probably my favorite cookbook right now.  Romney Steele, author and granddaughter of the creators, lives in Oakland and also has a lovely blog. 

The shop has a wonderful mix of handmade local goods from soaps to quilts, pottery, jewelry, and much more.  A wonderful spot for souvenirs from Northern California!

Another cool book they carry, The California House, is all about the homes of Old California.

On the way back we passed pretty Deetjen's Big Sur Inn below, another Big Sur institution that also serves breakfast and dinner. More information about it's very interesting rooms and history here.

Make sure you plan for plenty of drive time going through here. There are many photo opportunities and funky spots to check out.

Our day was mostly foggy, but the sun broke through many times. I recommend wearing layers when visiting Big Sur. It's very casual and anything from chunky sweaters to fleeces and down jackets work.  You may also want to throw some shorts in your car. Comfy shoes or boots are smart here as are scarves.

Big Sur really is like no place else on earth. Do not miss an opportunity to visit!

You might also want to check out the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, November 6-8 this year. More information and tickets on their site.


All photos property of NorthernCalStyle. 


  1. It's the most amazing part of the world, truly idyllic, a real rainbow's end.

  2. Kim, as a fellow native Northern California girl, I am sad that hadn't spent much time in Big Sur except for quick drive getting to other destinations. I was lucky enough to snag an awesome campsite at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State park in August. The view was magnificent! We also hiked the same trail that you and your family did. I am hoping to try out some of the other campgrounds next year. I hear that the other Pfeiffer State Park has some nice campsites as well as nice places to swim. Lovely photos in this post!


    1. Kelley, I was just reading about those campsites this week! That must have been fantastic. Love to do that sometime. I have car camped at Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur and it's beautiful too with very good tent sites along the river. They have a cute lodge there and you can grab a breakfast there as well as stay.

      Across the street is a tiny road that looks like a driveway almost. If you drive a mile or so down it there is a hidden beach! Lying on that beach I saw a mom and baby whale swim by right off the break one year around April. Amazing spot!

      Love to see your photos of that camping at JPBurns!

  3. Such great photo's!! I adore Big Sur any time of year. It's so close to home and such a magical place to visit. We camped at Pfeiffer State park many years ago... for 20 minutes. It was the most stunning spot...unfortunately we'd left the tent poles at home. The kids have never let us forget it:)
    It was a major fail, but we have always planned to go back!
    Enjoy your week my friend. xo~Jennifer

  4. Wow Kim! Big Sur looks so amazing and I've been to Carmel and Pebble Beach, but never made it to Big Sur and I'm definitely missing out. I love the pics overlooking the water with the beaches that look so private. All the landmarks and little shops look so fun too. I need to take my husband here one day. Thanks for sharing and cute family selfies too!! :)


  5. i went to nepenthe every day i was there. I loved that whole place and driving up and down the coast. I would like to move there for a few months and just enjoy the vibe. It really is God's country.

  6. My grandmother took me on a weekend trip to Big Sur right after I graduated from college. We had so much fun! Loved this post, and your pictures - it brought back great memories!

  7. Kim, what lovely photos. This looks like a great area. I cannot believe that log that looks like an alligator. It really does. Pinning a few of these.

  8. I love Big Sur. The first time I went there I was 18. I bought an opal ring in the Phoenix Shop. There was no Cafe Kevah then. But I love the brunch/ lunch menu there. Also I bought the My Nepenthe book several years ago. It's a great memoir. As an added bit of info, my daughter and I were there this past October and the weather was amazing. I wrote 2 short posts about loving Big Sur. I was blessed to be there twice in 2014. Enough about my love of this place. Your photos are outstanding and you have included places I've been but not included so good to see them. I intend to check back often.