Big Sur, California, USA
The perfect 3 days itinerary

Big Sur is a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. Bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the west by the Pacific Ocean, it’s traversed by narrow, 2-lane State Route 1, known for winding turns, seaside cliffs and views of the often-misty coastline. The sparsely populated region has numerous state parks for hiking, camping and beachcombing.

What to do in Big Sur?

This 3 days itinerary is the perfect guide to the best things to see in Big Sur. It includes day-by-day activities, travel tips, and the top places to visit.

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration of Carmel-by-the-Sea

Morning

Arrive in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a small beach city known for its picturesque scenery and artistic history. Start your day with a visit to the Carmel Mission, one of the oldest Spanish missions in California.

Afternoon

Explore the downtown area with its unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Take a scenic drive along the famous 17-Mile Drive, known for its stunning coastal vistas and iconic landmarks like the Lone Cypress.

Evening

Enjoy a beachfront dinner at one of the local restaurants, offering fresh seafood and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.


Day 2: Journey along the Pacific Coast Highway

Morning

Start your journey along the Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1), one of the most scenic drives in the world. Stop at the Point Sur Lighthouse for a guided tour and enjoy panoramic views of the coastline.

Afternoon

Continue your drive south and stop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Take a short hike to McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean.

Evening

Arrive in the small coastal town of San Simeon. Enjoy a quiet dinner at a local restaurant and rest for the night.


Day 3: Exploring San Simeon and Departure

Morning

Visit the famous Hearst Castle, a National Historic Landmark featuring 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. Take a guided tour to explore the grand rooms and hear the stories of this magnificent estate.

Afternoon

Head to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, where you can observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Evening

Depart from San Simeon, marking the end of your memorable trip to Big Sur.


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