With a backdrop made up of the Pacific Ocean and the Saint Lucia Mountains, Big Sur is one of the country’s longest stretches of untouched coastline. This central portion of California’s coast is about two hours south of San Jose and is dotted with charming small towns.
It’s famous for towering redwood trees, idyllic beaches, exciting hiking, and epic views!
Driving along California’s serpentine Hwy 1 to witness the impressive landscape is by far one of the best ways to experience Big Sur. However, other can’t-miss attractions include Keyhole Rock, the gravity-defying Bixby Canyon Bridge, and the McWay Falls overlook in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
While there’s no denying its natural beauty, choosing where to stay in Big Sur presents no easy task. Spanning over a 90-mile stretch of coastline, this list pinpoints some of the best places to stay in Big Sur to help you narrow down your options.
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The Best Vacation Rentals in Big Sur:
1. Best Luxury Rental: Big Sur Home
This elegant home for six sits on a sweeping five-acre property and boasts unbeatable panoramic views of California’s mountainous coast.
This three-bedroom Big Sur home takes the upscale amenities of a hotel and combines it with the homey touch of privacy you can only expect from a vacation rental. Inspired by the nature of the region, classic decor elements fill the space, such as exposed wooden beams and a stone fireplace.
However, the star of this property is the fantastic outdoor area equipped with an in-ground heated swimming pool, a hot tub, and ample outdoor seating that looks out onto the picture-perfect coast. Big Sur’s top attractions, including Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and McWay Falls, are just minutes away by car.
Rates start at 1,800/night. Click here to book it!
2. Best Cabin Rental: Notleys Landing Cabin
This one-bedroom cabin offers peace and quiet on a wooded property with mountain and canyon views about 20 minutes north of Big Sur.
This Notleys Landing cabin is nestled in the hillside of an expansive property just a few miles from Hwy 1. The interior is equipped with all the comforts of home and filled with quaint interior touches for a comfortable experience. Relaxation-focused amenities such as a wood-fired sauna and an open-air clawfoot soaking tub make this 600-square-foot cottage ideal for a romantic getaway for two.
The home also features an expansive deck surrounded by towering redwoods and views of untouched wilderness. You can find this Big Sur VRBO conveniently located between the scenic beauty of the coast and the lively attractions of Monterey and Carmel.
Rates start at $225/night. Click here to book it!
3. Best Pet-Friendly Home: South Coast Big Sur Retreat
This unassuming and eco-friendly Big Sur home is powered by the sun and sits 800 feet above the ocean.
Located along a public dirt road, guests enjoy peaceful solitude at this South Coast Big Sur retreat. The home is equipped with two bedrooms to comfortably sleep four guests and happily welcomes travelers with pets.
The living room’s floor-to-ceiling windows mean a sunny interior filled with epic views of the surrounding Pacific Valley. Pretty blooming gardens fill the grassy yard, which features an incredible elevated deck accessible from the living room. Plaskett Creek Campground and Sand Dollar Beach are a short drive away as well as popular trailheads like Salmon Creek and Soda Springs.
Rates start at $400/night. Click here to book it!
4. Best Remote Vacation Rental: Big Sur Dream Home
This unique one-bedroom is a design dream and features a beautiful outdoor area furnished with a separate yurt, hot tub, and an adobe fireplace.
This Big Sur Dream Home is so beautiful that it’s caught the attention of notable brands such as Urban Outfitters. Graceful wooden arches and tall windows help create eye-catching architectural lines that pair oh so well with the surrounding wilderness. On the ground level of this incredible home, you’ll find a small but well-appointed kitchen, living room, and bathroom.
Upstairs, a lofted bedroom features a plush queen bed. In your downtime, sit out and relax on the wooden deck or the stone patio as a fire burns. This remote property is encircled by forest and is situated about 15 minutes from the coast.
Rates start at $436/night. Click here to book it!
5. Best Oceanfront Cottage: Gallery House
This rustic oceanside sanctuary welcomes two guests seeking a quiet escape to the coastal beauty of Big Sur.
Stunning natural elements inspired by the region’s landscape make the Gallery House a lovely pick for a visit to Big Sur. Stone and wooden walls coupled with an iron wood-burning fireplace create a warm and inviting interior.
The home has numerous areas to enjoy the great outdoors, including a dining table set in front of an expansive window with a direct ocean view. Outside, relax on the picturesque stone patio with sun loungers or at the wooden dining table. Slates Hot Springs and McWay Falls are just down the road from this property.
Rates start at $389/night. Click here to book it!
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The Best Hotels in Big Sur:
6. Best Luxury Hotel: Alila Ventana Big Sur
This luxurious five-star hotel boasts impressive amenities that include swimming and spa facilities situated along California’s breathtaking coast.
The Alila Ventana Big Sur is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort perched high above the Pacific Ocean. Posh rooms, suites, and private villas feature upscale accents like hot tubs, fireplaces, or separate living rooms. Rest and relaxation amongst luxurious decor is the highlight of the Alila Ventana resort.
During your stay, take advantage of Japanese-inspired baths, treatments, and more at the Ventana Inn & Spa Bathhouse. The resort also features a fitness center, complimentary yoga classes, and sophisticated onsite dining. Beautiful beaches like Andrew Molera and Pfeiffer Beach are under a 20-minute drive away.
Rates start at $2,200/night. Click here to book it!
7. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Lodging: Big Sur Lodge
This cottage-style resort boasts comprehensive amenities such as onsite dining, a bar, and a gift store for all-in-one convenience.
Wake up in the heart of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park at the Big Sur Lodge. This three-star hotel offers professionally maintained units that can accommodate between two and four guests. Each room is furnished with a small seating area, a private balcony, and coffee-making supplies.
Upgrade options are available and may include a kitchenette or a fireplace. While this hotel is surrounded by rustic nature, it features tasteful decor and modern amenities such as a seasonal swimming pool. Beachgoers will appreciate that Pfeiffer Beach is a ten-minute drive away from the lodge.
Rates start at $299/night. Click here to book it!
8. Best Big Sur Lodge: Big Sur River Inn
This nature lodge is surrounded by forest and exudes a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere not far from Andrew Molera State Park.
Striking redwoods and the passing Big Sur River make the Big Sur River Inn a haven in nature. Take your pick between standard rooms for two adults or larger suites that can accommodate up to four.
One of the highlights of this hotel is its unique river seating area. Half-immersed wooden chairs and benches stand in the water, allowing guests to relax in the cool passing river. Other noteworthy amenities include a seasonal swimming pool, sun deck, restaurant, and a general store.
Rates start at $350/night. Click here to book it!
9. Best Hotel In Carmel Valley: Carmel Valley Ranch
This four-star resort offers a number of diverse room options set on a sprawling 500-acre property within the scenic Carmel Valley.
The Carmel Valley Ranch is a sophisticated hotel managed by Hyatt. Guests’ comfort is a top priority at this resort, with rooms featuring upscale touches such as Keurig coffee machines, fireplaces, and private patios. Some suites even feature a kitchenette for at-home cooking.
The resort also boasts an incredible outdoor complex complete with a fitness center, two swimming pools, hot tubs, and a spa. Not to mention, there are numerous tennis courts and nearby hiking trails for those who wish to stay active during their stay.
With your booking, a highly-rated breakfast is included. While Big Sur is about a 45-minute minute drive away, the attractions of Carmel-By-The-Sea are just 15 minutes by car.
Rates start at $556/night. Click here to book it!
10. Best Hotel In Carmel: Candle Light Inn
This hospitable hotel is in the heart of the city, within walking distance to popular dining and shopping just 35 minutes from the scenic beauty of Big Sur.
For a city experience, consider staying at the Candle Light Inn. Although a bit of a drive from Big Sur, its location in Carmel-By-The-Sea means travelers can enjoy both the beauty of Big Sur and local Carmel attractions like the Point Lobos State Reserve.
At the Candle Light Inn, it’s possible to choose between standard or premium rooms, some of which have a fireplace and a jacuzzi bathtub. The hotel also features a fantastic outdoor terrace with ample seating and an outdoor brick fireplace.
Rates start at $300/night. Click here to book it!
This post is contributed by Brittany Varano. Brittany is a freelance travel writer and avid photographer with a love of hiking and solo travel. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, she fell in love with travel blogging after living and teaching English in South Korea. You can follow her adventures on Instagram or her travel blog lifeofbrit.com, where she shares helpful travel guides and budget tips for solo travel in Asia and beyond.
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