California has served as a muse for songwriters, architects, designers, writers and countless artists since it was first explored and mapped out in the 16th century. One of California's most enchanting drives is through Big Sur, a rugged stretch of coastline between Carmel and San Simeon, between 85 and 100 miles of pure scenic bliss. To the east the Santa Lucia Mountains provide a breathtaking border, and to the West, nothing but steep cliffs, hidden beach coves, and ocean as far as the eye can see. The 2-lane State Route 1 traverses this bit of coastline, which is notable for its dreamy state parks, misty horizons and winding turns. Whether you're in the mood for hiking, camping, wine-tasting, or discovering scrumptious foodie delights, a road trip through Big Sur has something for everyone. You'll be hard-pressed to find another stretch of road as breathtaking as State Route 1.
Big Sur is home to several beautiful towns.These hamlets all ooze charm and personality, punctuating the scenic beauty of Big Sur with a vibrant local culture. Beginning in Monterey County, the city of Monterey is one of California's central coast gems. Located along a rugged coastline, Monterey is an essential Big Sur stop. The shopping and dining strip along Cannery Row is a must-visit Monterey destination. There's also the tiny Big Sur Village, which is only a mile long, and has a population under a thousand. You'll find Big Sur Village just south of Andrew Molera State Park where PCH-1 goes inland. There are a few markets here and some places to eat and sleep like the Big Sur River Inn. Then drive a few miles down to Carmel-by-the-Sea, called Carmel, is a city in Monterey County, known as a haven for artists, writers and poets. In fact, in 1905 it was established as an art colony. It's located two hours south of San Francisco, and it's incredibly dog-friendly and prides itself on its alternative culture. In fact, there's even a prohibition against wearing high heels without a permit.