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Big Sur

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  • Big Sur

    Big Sur is set in the midst of one of the world's most spectacular coastlines that stretches 90 miles between Carmel and San Simeon.

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    Big Sur is located along Scenic Highway One approximately 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles. Historically, the name Big Sur was derived from that unexplored and unmapped wilderness area which lies along the coast south of Monterey. It was simply called elpaís grande del sur, the Big South Country.

    Today, Big Sur refers to the 90 mile stretch of rugged and beautiful coastline between Carmel to the north and San Simeon to the south. Highway One winds along its length and is flanked on one side by the majestic Santa Lucia Mountains and on the other by the rocky Pacific Coast.

    There is no downtown - only miles of staggeringly beautiful coastline, ocean cliffs, steep ridges, jagged peaks, deep gorges, flowing rivers and a population of approximately 1,000 residents.

    Road Closures

    13th October 2017 - After winter storms affecting the California Coast in February, the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge has now reopened, allowing 35 miles of clear travelling south of Carmel on Highway 1. To drive "through" Big Sur travellers will have to take Nacimiento-Fergusson Road detour around Mud Creek slide, which is scheduled to reopen sometime next summer.

    State Route 1 remains closed from north of Salmon Creek, just south of the Ranger Station to just south of Gorda due to the Mud Creek slide. State Route 1 south of Salmon Creek is accessible via State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo County near Ragged Point.

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    • Top Tip 1

      Everyone should drive Highway 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway, but our tip is to do it from north to south. Whichever direction you take the scenery is stunning but you get a better view going south because you're on the ocean side of the road.

    • Top Tip 2

      Hearst Castle is a must-see stop as you drive along the coast, taking you back to the early days of Hollywood.

    • Top Tip 3

      Wine tasting tours are plentiful in Napa and Sonoma. Our favourites are Jordan's and Chalk Hill. Try the Library Tasting tour, a wine and cheese pairing at Jordan's and the Culinary Tour at Chalk Hill, a wine and food pairing prepared by Chef Didier. Both are exceptional experiences and amazing value.

    • Top Tip 4

      Visit the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. On Thursdays, from 6pm, enjoy music, cocktails and entertainment whist experiencing world class exhibits and star gazing on the living roof.

    • Top Tip 5

      San Francisco - where do you start? Visit North Beach for the cafe culture, take a tour to Alcatraz (we recommend you pre-book it), see Lombard Street, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a sightseeing tour of the city on a fire engine, shop in Union Square.

    • Top Tip 6

      For spectacular scenery, and to escape from the desert heat, take a ride on the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway. If you're in downtown Palm Springs on Thursdays, you'll enjoy VillageFest, offering live entertainment and an array of stalls selling food and gifts.

    • Top Tip 7

      Yosemite National Park is one of California's great natural wonders. Stay for a couple of nights and include a guided horseback ride for a tour with a difference.

    • Top Tip 8

      Follow the scenic 17-Mile Drive coastal route between Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove for stunning views of the Monterey Peninsula. There's a small fee to drive this route but it's worth it.

    • Top Tip 9

      Rent a bike or rollerblades and enjoy people watching along the boardwalk at Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

    • Top Tip 10

      When visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, book the VIP ticket which allows you to jump the queues and includes behind-the-scenes access.

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