Posted by Carlee Benito on

Cruising up the 101, wind in your hair… now that is one of the greatest things about living in California. You can hop in your car and be on vacation within an hour or two (or…uhhh…5). My destination of choice? Big Sur!

Big Sur has so much to offer: insane beach hikes, artisanal locally sourced cuisine, redwoods to get lost in, and most importantly peace and quiet. I recently took a few days to go fully offline- there is literally zero service in the entire area- and recharge spending time with friends playing board games, drinking wine and getting lost in the forest.

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During our time there, when we did leave the house we pooled all the recommendations we had received over the years and in an effort to hit all the best places. Here is your STAY, EAT, GO cheat sheet:

STAY: Big Sur is tiny and there are very limited options as far as hotels go. They book up super duper fast so renting a house is my go-to.



Casa Lauria: This house is all windows and outdoor space. If you don’t mind scaling up the side of a mountain on an unpaved road then this is the place for you. The giant porch with 180 degree views are offset with a massive communal table and hot tub so if you want to maximize every moment of outdoors-ness you can. The inside is very cozy with dim lamps, furry rugs and a really old wood fireplace perfect for late night chats.

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Post Ranch Inn: If you have $1500 burning a hole in your pocket then I suggest you book one of the twelve rooms here.  They are basically glass boxes built into a side of a cliff. I have been told you wake up and feel like you are in the sky. Pretty magical, huh? If you can’t  afford a night here grab a coffee or meal at the 5-star restaurant.

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EAT: Since there aren’t a lot of places to eat food is not cheap. Also most places are beer and wine only so if you’re trying to be really fun you are going to have to flask it. Consider yourself warned.

Big Sur Bakery: Sunday brunch here is a must. The staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, which makes for the most lovely atmosphere. The food is well thought out and simply delicious. Two tips: eat outside on the patio and  make sure you get a 9 grain pancake (or 2!) for the table to the share. Here is the description from the website:  “Baked in a cast-iron skillet, this is a real pan “cake.” At the Bakery, we prepare it in the wood-fired oven, where it puffs up to an inch thick in just a couple minutes” and it will be polished off just as quickly as it was made.

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Nepenthe: Great for a big sandwich and a glass of rose or frosty IPA post hike. Everything is served with a side of hearty 3 bean salad which is delightful. Very casual and insanely scenic, on a foggy day you will be eating lunch in a cloud. Literally.

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GO: So many good things to do and see but the good news is they are all great so you can’t exactly mess this part up.

Ewoldsen Trail: The wonderful thing about the Ewoldsen trail is that it offers a highly scenic sampling of what you find with most Big Sur trails east of Highway 1. You’ve got your old growth redwood forest, scrub landscapes, sweeping canyon and ocean views, and a nice bit of elevation gain.  People this is instagram gold.

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Henry Miller Library: The cultural heart and soul of Big Sur, the Henry Miller Memorial Library, named for and created in honor of the famed American writer who called Big Sur home between 1944 and 1962. During the winter, it’s a sleepy spot where you can browse books (including Miller’s influential works like Tropic of Cancer) and enjoy a cup of coffee. But May through October, there’s a calendar-full of happenings, including live performances and special events including live performances from TV on the Radio and Beach House. NBD.

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Is there anywhere more magical than Big Sur? Yes, maybe a fantasyland where all Acne shoes are 90% off but other than that no. Head up north and spend an enchanted weekend in the woods. Just make sure you pack your RP socks, it gets chilly at night.