Big Sur

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Where to stay in Big Sur? Not camping.

July 2013

Any recommendations on where to stay in Big Sur? We'd love to hike and swim and dine. Would love any advice about enjoying Big Sur in mid-August too. Not a camper

Stay at Ventana. Have a coffee/breakfast and a dinner at Big Sur Bakery. You may have to call ahead at the bakery to make a dinner reservation. EM

August 2008

Re: Girls Weekend Away in December
About halfway between LA and the Bay Area, not exactly a spa destination but pretty amazing, is Big Sur. I took a girls' road trip a couple years ago and our 2 nights in Big Sur were the favorite part of the trip. We stayed at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn in a rustic suite with a fireplace and tiny kitchen, nestled in the redwoods. Very reasonable. They have a very good restaurant there, where we had breakfast and also dinner one night, but there are also great places to eat nearby - we enjoyed a lunch at Nepenthe. For a splurge there is the Post Ranch Inn - lunch is affordable there - it's on a bluff overlooking the ocean. If you can swing it, staying at the Post Ranch is unforgettable. Esalen is in Big Sur, which we didn't visit but would be a one-of-a-kind trip with friends. Just being in Big Sur is a treat, and of course there are many hiking trails and gorgeous spots. San Simeon is nearby if you wanted to take a day trip to visit Hearst Castle, and in December you should be able to see lots of elephant seals lolling on the beach. Have fun! Ginger

How about Ventana in Big Sur? p.s. Can I come too???????? barbara

Romantic getaway

May 2005

Re: 10th Anniversary romantic getaway
Well, two places that I would consider for romantic getaways if I had the money to splurge (they are both VERY expensive, but GORGEOUS):

Post Ranch Inn ( Ventana resort (

These are both located in Big Sur, and I think would be lovely regardless of the time of year or the weather, since they have beautiful accommodations that have fireplaces and breathtaking views (so even if it's raining, you can snuggle in a gorgeous room by a fire). Both have separate cottages/buildings if you want something detatched and more private, and these are really special, romantic splurges. I've been longing to go myself, but need to save my pennies, first! I won't say any more, go to the web site and look at the photos, I think they'll speak for themselves.

Best of luck!
Big Sur Bound (someday)

Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur has nice rooms (be sure to get an ocean view) and a great restaurant, but other activities such as hiking, biking and the beach could be dicey in December.

Big Sur getaway without the kids

Feb 2005

I am looking for a reasonably priced, clean and charming hotel in Big Sur. We will have no kids. I checked previous postings, but they are all about larger cabins for families. Thank you.

My husband and I really loved Deetjen's(sp?) Big Sur Inn. We stayed in a tiny room, just the two of us. Cosy, lovely setting and a really good restaurant as part of the hotel. The prices weren't rock bottom cheep, but affordable and worth it. This was about 3 years ago, but I'd be surprised if anything has changed in terms of quality. Check it out. I'm sure you'll love it. Leslie

Try Deetjen's in Big Sur. Wonderful. anon

If you want to splurge, there is always the Post Ranch Inn and Ventana. They usually have some sort of mid-week package deal that includes lodging, some meals and a few spa treatments. I guess it depends on what you mean by 'reasonably priced'.

I'd swear there was an article in San Francisco Magazine not that long ago about places to stay in Big Sur. Maybe go to the libary and browse some back issues?

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn is very charming, fun. Not fancy but really nice.

On the relative cheap, get a quaint room overlooking the babbling brook in Big Sur Village at the River Inn, ( ) where the food is good and the fireplace is always stoked. You can eat there or head down the coast for dinner another ten miles or so to Nepenthe ( ), which is an excellent place for a sunset/evening dinner and hanging out afterward by the fire ring. If you are into a really wonderful late night adventure, the Esalen Hot Springs are open to the public, but only very late at night. Check them out at . Esalen is about 30 miles south of Big Sur Village, which is almost exactly 25 miles south of the intersection of Route 68 and Route 1 on the coast in Carmel.

During the day, a couple miles south of Big Sur Village down a nondescript road (and a SHARP left turn!) is Pfeiffer Beach, truly one of the most incredible beaches in all of California. It's managed by the feds and has a $5 per day use fee, well worth it. Further south on the coast highway, about 300 yards short of the Pfeiffer State Park entrance and on the right hand side, is a short pullout overlooking a bluff where you can get out and peer down at one of the most incredible beach watefalls on the West Coast. It looks like Blue Lagoon - water cascading down from the cliffs into the surf, and a beautiful, pristine piece of beach.

Last but not least by any stretch, consider heading down the coast highway another 60 miles south of Big Sur Village to Piedras Blancas near San Simeon. Ironically, Valentines Day is the height of elephant seal mating season and there is a docent area where you can pull off and park, walk about 20 steps, and you'll be within 100 feet of more than a 1,000 (yup, no exaggeration!) elephant seals... It is the most incredible thing I have ever seen in California and it should not be missed, especially at this very special time. You can read more about it at: For those who have trekked to Aqo Nuevo to see the elephant seals, this will dwarf that experience forever, I promise.

Happy trails! Big Sur is magic. mrm

Camping at Big Sur

March 2004

We are planning to camp at Big Sur in June. Can anyone recommend a good campground for tent camping with an 9 and 3 year old? Are reservations allowed, and how hard are they to get? Thanks! jeanne

There is camping at Big Sur State Park. I stayed there a few years ago and it was fine. There are hiking trails and a visitor center, and it's centrally located on the Big Sur coast. Coincidentally, I drove past the front gate on Saturday. There was a sign that said ''camp ground full'', so it appears to be a popular place to stay. Don't know about reservations, you could probably find some info from the State Park's website. There are a few private campgrounds in the area, however I don't know their names and haven't stayed in any of them.

If you want to reserve a summer weekend camping spot on the Big Sur coast, make your reservation now. State Parks sites fill up in April.

Or you can stay at a first-come, first-served spot like Andrew Molera State Park. I stayed there last July, mid-week with my 2.5 and 7 year old and we had the pick of camp sites. It's a long walk in with some steps, so you'll need to be prepared (e.g. bring back packs). The camping area is flat -- good place for the kids to run around. It was more work than car side camping but prettier; you could go for lots of nice walks right from your camp site and you don't have to worry about cars and your kids.

Warning: Andrew Molera is right on the coast and in summer (esp. July and August) the wind can absolutely howl. You will be much more sheltered inland at Julia Pfieffer (sp?) and the other inland sites. But Andrew Molera is still my favorite. camping lover

Look into Ventana Campground, it's next to the Ventana Resort. Since it's privately owned it can be easier to get a reservation there than the ones that are run by the park service. We've camped there a couple of times and thought it was great, a little rustic with lots of redwoods and pretty quiet. Have fun! jackie

Weekend lodging for 2 families with small kids

Feb. 2002

Does anyone have a recommendation on Big Sur weekend lodging for two families with small kids? We're four adults and four children (6 months, 18 months, 2 years and 4 years). I've already checked the places recommended on the website (Ripplewood Resort and Deetjans)and have struck out for the dates we are looking for. Ideally, we'd like to find a two bedroom house or cottage that is available for weekend rental. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Rliebler

There is a lodge called the Big Sur Lodge in Julia Pfeiffer State Park. There are nice cabins/cottages some of which have kitchenettes. There is a pool on the grounds. We haven't been for a number of years, but remember it being well-kept and in beautiful surroundings. It is close to hiking trails. There is a beautiful beach nearby that they can give you directions to. Sorry, I don't have the tel. no., but have gotten it in the past from information. Have fun! Pam

Note from Myriam: Website with online reservation form here:

Getaway with an infant


RE: getaway with an infant
When my daughter was about 9 months old, we stayed at the Ripplewood cabins in Big Sur for a few nights. I think it was about $90/night. We got a one bedroom cabin with a kitchen and living room with fireplace and a nice deck. We set up our daughter's portacrib in the living room. It was nice having a kitchen for the easy meals at home, and we found wonderful restaurants nearby. Although the restaurants at first seemed expensive, we found that the portions were huge and that sharing an appetizer, entree and dessert was more then enough to eat for the two of us. Also, the restaurants were also family friendly and very accomodating Shoshana

Inexpensive, child-freindly place

I am hoping to visit Big Sur over Memorial Day weekend, with my then 3-year-old. Assuming I'm not too late to make plans, can anyone recommend a comfortable place to stay that is child-friendly, and not too outrageously expensive? (or if you can recommend any other nature-oriented outing I'd be happy to get recommendations).

I highly recommend a place called Deetjens (I think that is the spelling) is on Highway 1 near Big Sur and is a lovely cabin-like place which was built from found wood in the area...very rustic and charming...there are no locks on the doors, though, which may be a prob with a 3-year-old...even if you don't stay there, go for dinner or breakfast...they have several fireplaces in the restaurant and excellent pancakes! Sharon

10/99 Jennifer
We are looking for a place to stay around Big Sur for 5 adults and 5 kids (one 7 year-old, two 5 year-olds, a 16-month old and a 8-month old) for two nights (10/29 and 10/30). I know this is very short notice and probably hard to get something. We are also considering camping. Any ideas? Thanks for any suggestions.

We like the Ripplewood Resort. Their number is 831-667-2242 and they have a web site which shows the floor plans of their cabins. They have a number of nice, rustic cabins, all under $100 per night. The ones we like are in the woods with decks overlooking the river. They have kitchens, fireplaces (bring or buy wood), separate bedrooms, and spare beds in the living area. We're actually going for a week in November and they are probably booked up for the times you want to go--but check for cancellations or at least keep them in mind for next time.