Not sure where to stay in Big Sur? Whether you’re planning a romantic escape or an epic outdoor adventure, this guide will help you find the ideal spot for your coastal gateway.
90 miles of rugged coastline dotted with state parks offering up epic camping, hiking, and beach days. If you weren’t already dreaming of a trip to Big Sur, I’m sure you will be now.
The impeccable redwood forests and captivating ocean views along the quintessential Pacific Coast drive are genuinely magical.
And it’s only fair that you experience this magic without stressing about accommodation…
Which is why I’ve put together a list of the best places to stay in Big Sur. You’re welcome.
Let’s uncover where to stay in Big Sur.
Best Places to Stay in Big Sur: At a Glance
|Best Places to Stay in Big Sur – Top Picks
|Best Overall Hotel
|Alila Ventana Big Sur
|Best Hotel for a Romantic Escape
|La Playa Carmel
|Best Hotel on a Budget
|Best Western Apricot Inn
|Best Hotel in Big Sur to Stay for Dog Owners
|Portola Hotel & Spa
Where to Stay in Big Sur, CA
Big Sur is pretty much untouched, so you’ll need to do some digging when it comes to finding ideal lodgings. However, its dramatic coastline has many charming towns or cities with plenty of options.
Big Sur: Best Overall Place to Stay, Big Sur
The best place to stay in Big Sur is (drumroll) — Big Sur.
You may be scratching your head right now, but Big Sur Village is a quaint community located at the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. “Big Sur” is also widely used to describe the greater region from Carmel to San Simeon.
Big Sur is a coastal gem and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a place where you can explore hiking trails and glistening beaches to your heart’s content.
Then there’s the slew of creative restaurants and nearby vineyards offering heavenly culinary journeys. Sign me up.
Big Sur Highlights
- Drive out to Bixby Creek Bridge: Take a trip along the scenic Californian coast to catch a glimpse of one of the most photographed bridges in the state.
- Visit Pfeiffer Beach: Have your handy camera ready as photographers line up to capture the ethereal orange skies through the arches of the Keyhole Rock.
- Hike in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park: Nicknamed “mini Yosemite,” head to this 1,006-acre park nestled along the Big Sur River for the ultimate hiking adventure.
Suggested Top Hotels in Big Sur
- Alila Ventana Big Sur – This adults-only resort boasts heated pools, spa facilities, and an on-site restaurant. Its elegant modern rooms are airy featuring open terraces with coastline views.
- Big Sur Lodge – Stay inside Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with the mid-range Big Sur Lodge. This lodge features cosy, spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant.
San Simeon: Best Place to Stay in Big Sur for First Timers
San Simeon is a beautiful village on the Pacific coast of San Luis Obispo County. If you’re a newcomer to this region, this quaint town filled with wine tasting, excellent dining options, and exclusive art collections should be your first choice.
After wining and dining, you can cool off in the lush gardens and stroll through its streets lined with towering terraces. Simeon is quite the place for beach bums with its picturesque shores and beckoning summer swells.
A drive from San Simeon to Big Sur will take up to three hours. While this seems like a stretch, it’s a scenic drive featuring many beautiful stops – in other words, it’s well worth it.
San Simeon Highlights
- William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach: Visit this beautiful cove for a tranquil stroll along the pier to enjoy the fresh ocean breeze.
- Wine tasting: Pop in at Hearst Ranch Winery to sample delicious reds, whites, and blends.
- Visit the famous Hearst Castle: A tour through this mesmerising historical site is a must for anyone who appreciates architecture.
Suggested Hotels in San Simeon
- Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach – This stunning beachfront hotel boasts lovely contemporary rooms, free wi-fi, and an outdoor heated pool.
- White Water– Minutes from Hearst Castle and Moonstone Beach is an elegant lodge with an inviting coastal style design.
King City: Best Place to Stay in Big Sur on a Budget
King City is an off-the-beaten-track destination around 90 miles from Big Sur, meaning you can travel to and from in under two hours.
The city is in the picturesque southern Salinas Valley, known as “the Salad Bowl of the World” due to its rich crop production.
It’s the ideal escape if you’re hankering after a quiet rural stay along the coast. With a friendly community, safe conditions, and an abundance of budget-friendly accommodations, finding the perfect spot here won’t be a hassle.
King City Highlights
- Join the Annual Salinas Valley Fair: Taking place in May each year, this is a fun celebration that showcases entertainment, food, and local talent.
- Experience the Santa Lucia Highlands Wineries: Enjoy authentic wine-tasting above the Salinas Valleys in this charming wine-growing region.
- Explore Pinnacles National Park: Hike, explore, or birdwatch in this gorgeous park with an ancient volcanic field.
Suggested Budget-friendly Hotels in King City
- Motel 6 Soledad – Located near King City, this affordable motel features air-conditioned rooms, a hot tub, and an outdoor pool near many local wineries.
- Best Western Apricot Inn – This budget-friendly listing offers comfortable rooms and fantastic amenities such as free parking, wi-fi, and 24-hour front desk service.
Monterey Bay: Best Place in Big Sur to Stay for Dog Owners
Concerned about where to stay in Big Sur with dogs? Monterey Bay is an excellent option for you and your furry companion.
Your pup will get plenty of walks thanks to its dog-friendly beaches and coastal trails.
Monterey Bay sits south of the San Fran Bay area, where you can reach Big Sur in about 28 minutes without traffic. This Pacific Ocean jewel has sea-side charm, quaint communities, and many balmy beaches, attractions, and restaurants to enjoy.
Monterey Bay Highlights
- Asilomar State Beach: Take your dog (on a leash) for a lovely walk on a rustic boardwalk at this picturesque rocky beach.
- Visit the National Marine Sanctuary: This bay teems with marine life and extensive kelp forests and is home to one of the largest marine sanctuaries.
- Shop at Old Fisherman’s Wharf: Visit this historical landmark with dining and shopping opportunities.
Suggested Pet-friendly Hotels in Monterey Bay
- Portola Hotel & Spa – This luxury pet-friendly hotel sits five minutes from Fisherman’s Wharf and boasts classically designed, bright, spacious rooms.
- Monterey Tides – Another superb pet-friendly hotel featuring a simple, sophisticated interior to make you feel at home with an indoor fireplace, a flat-screen TV, and a heated pool.
Carmel-By-The-Sea: Luxurious Big Sur Stays for Couples
For couples looking to spice up their stay near Big Sur, the rugged stretch of coastline offered by Carmel-By-The-Sea presents long romantic walks as the sun sets.
Located in California’s Monterey Peninsula, you’ll only need to travel about 40 minutes (25.8 miles) via CA-1 S to get to Big Sur. Then you’ll fall in love with this area for its village-like centre enhanced by enchanting fairytale-like cottages and galleries.
The picturesque Carmel-By-The-Sea is home to museums and libraries worth browsing through with your loved one.
- Wander through the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum: Take in the glorious architecture of a Catholic Church.
- Visit the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Admire the glistening coastline, enjoy hikes and spot a sea lion or five at this camera-worthy spot.
- Wine and Dine with Scenic Views: Wine and dine with your significant other at the Tree House Cafe or Pangaea Grill.
Suggested Luxurious Hotels in Carmel-By-The-Sea
- La Playa Carmel – This hotel encapsulates modern boho-chic rooms paired perfectly with the tempting crystal-clear pool and vibrant gardens to set a romantic tone.
- Carmel Mission Inn – This sophisticated hotel is ideal for two with its hot tubs, fitness centre and outdoor pool.
Big Sur Places to Stay: Frequently Asked Questions
Practical Tips to Consider Before Booking Your Accommodation in Big Sur
- I recommend spending 2-3 nights in Big Sur. This allows you to fit in enough hikes, beach visits, and day trips to and from the nearby towns.
- Wondering when to visit Big Sur? I recommend heading there from April through October for the most stunning weather.
- Keep in mind that businesses in these coastal towns don’t stay open as long during the off-peak season. If you think that this will seriously affect your trip, you might want to consider booking in the busier season.
Where to Stay in Big Sur: Read Next
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