What to do in Big Sur: Watefalls, Hiking, Beaches & Parks

Without a doubt, Big Sur is one of my favorite places in California. I recommend it all of the time, and if you want to see just a little of the beauty California has to offer, then you must drive the windy road that makes up Highway 1 through Big Sur. There are so many hidden spots along the route though, so it can be hard to figure out where you should stop. This post should help you with that by showing you all of my favorite spots along Big Sur; the post will continue to expand as I explore more. So check them out below, and you can even browse by a map at the end of the post.

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State Parks

Limekiln State Park

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With camping, a beach, a waterfall and old historic kilns, this is one of the best State Parks in Big Sur. It is ten dollars to enter, but you can spend a day or a weekend here and still find new things to explore. Just wandering through the lush forest is enough to take away any stresses you fell.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park


Home of the waterfall that falls directly on the beach, this is a very popular park for a quick stop. You can’t walk down to the water, but you can see it from afar in a short half mile hike. You can also cross the street and hike into the forest on a few of the other trails as well.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

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While not located on the ocean side of Big Sur, this park gives you a great taste of what is waiting for you on the interior. There is a campground and a restaurant here, as well as many different hikes and waterfalls to check out.

Andrew Molera State Park

This is one of the only parks in the area I have not visited. It has camping, a beach and a bunch of hiking trails though, so I am sure it is a great spot.

Historical Sites

Bixby Canyon Bridge

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I love bridges, and this bridge is one of the most iconic in the entire state. No trip to Big Sur is complete without a stop to admire it.

Henry Miller Library

henry miller library

Regardless of your personal feelings on Henry Miller, he is a figure that many remember when thinking about Big Sur. The library he has here is a great stop to just relax from the road as well as an amazing event space to see a concert. Some of the most prominent indie bands come to play here so if you are thinking about a trip make sure to check if there is a concert on the schedule as well.


Pfieffer Beach


Home of the purple sand and probably my favorite beach in the entire state, Pfieffer Beach, accessible by a one lane road, is a must visit. These beach has no sign and is easy to miss so read my post linked below to get there. I mean, I can’t imagine you haven’t seen the above rock in a guidebook somewhere, so make sure you check it out.


McWay Waterfall & Beach


McWay Falls is the famous attraction where the waterfall literally falls directly onto the sand. You can’t actually go down to it without getting a ticket, but you can take in the views from afar.

Pfeiffer Falls

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Pfeiffer Falls is a great waterfall hike that is easily accessible via a 2-mile hike from Pfeiffer State Park.

Limekiln Falls

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One of the beautiful hikes in Limekiln State Park, this lush forest adventure takes you to a stunning, split waterfall.

Hikes (if not mentioned in the waterfalls)

Partington Cove

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Another hidden spot along the coast, this hike leads to a beautiful cove that will seem like something out of a dream. It also features an old unique tunnel that was literally blown out of the rock face to give access to the cove.

Read about Partington Cove

 Ewoldsen Trail

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This trail leads away from McWay Waterfall and into the forest. I often compare it to a trip into a fairy wonderland as it is insanely beautiful.

Map of my Big Sur posts

Center map

This post will continue to update as I am able to explore the area more. I would love to hear your feedback on places I have missed in the comments.

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This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love for me. If you have enjoyed the posts consider sharing it with your friends. I want as many people as possible to explore this state and you can help by letting them know about all of the great spots!

About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Christian

    Nice page, for one who loves california and big sur.
    i have a question for you: do you know who’s the owner of the glass house at the top of the hill near the rocky creek bridge? bye Christian

    • Thanks for the comment, I have no idea. Maybe someone else in the comments will be able to help you.

      • Traveller

        Which is the best place to stay in Bigsur to cover all the places in Big Sur. Looks you had very good time over there

        • There are lots of great places to camp, but if you are looking for a hotel, both Big Sur River Inn and Treebones are popular spots on opposite ends of Big Sur.

  • Jennifer Bunce

    Thanks for this post! I am a California native and never have been to Big Sur! This was very helpful on my solo road trip and I loved it up there! I am an aspiring travel blogger so I definitely appreciate this and love your blog 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, I am glad you had such a good time. BIg Sur is a truly amazing place. Good luck on your blog as well, it is always fun to catalog your travels and share them with others!

  • Aimee

    Thanks so much for this. I am going to Big Sur in a few days and cannot be any more excited. Great recommendations and pictures!

    • No problem, have fun and let me know your favorite spot!

  • Jermaine Magbitang

    Thank you for posting this! Me and my cousins and a few of my friends will be going there after my graduation night on the 1st week of March and this is really helpful!

    • No problem, you will love Big Sur it is one of the best places in Cali!

  • Ajay Hareesh

    How many days do we need to cover these at Big Sur?

    • I would plan for at least 2, then you can take your time and stay at places longer than if you are just driving through.

  • Go without show

    Big Sur used to be super special place but due to social media, blogs, etc. it has become to crowded to truly enjoy its natural beauty. To many sellouts!