Where to Stay in Big Sur: The Ultimate California Coast Experience

Terri Marshall Avatar

Big Sur California
See stunning views of the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Nothing beats a California road trip along Pacific Coast Highway 1. Hugging the coastline, this stunner of a road winds along the edge of the Pacific Ocean revealing jaw-dropping vistas at every turn. At the heart of this section of the California coast between Carmel and San Simeon lies Big Sur. This spectacular slice of heaven displays redwood forests on one side and epic ocean views on the other. Its idyllic location makes for easy day trips to the opulent Hearst Castle or Monterey Bay.

Many tourists travel through the Big Sur coast on road trips from Los Angeles to San Francisco and choose lodging in more populated areas like Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea to the north and San Simeon and Cambria to the south. But staying along the Big Sur coastline adds a touch of authenticity to your road trip experience. Here are some of the best hotels and lodges to book in Big Sur.

Big Sur Lodge

Embracing a history that dates back to the late 19th century, Big Sur Lodge continues the tradition of old-fashioned hospitality, excellent service, and appreciation of their guests. Located 23 miles from Point Lobos State Reserve, the property’s lovely cottage-style accommodations are available in a variety of sizes. Each cottage features an outside deck and a wood-burning fireplace.

Additional amenities include a gift shop, general store, seasonal outdoor swimming pool, complimentary parking, onsite restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating featuring locally sourced dishes and an outdoor bar serving beer and wine. Hiking trails are also nearby for outdoor explorations through the enticing Big Sur Coast landscape.

Lucia Lodge

Located in the tiny village of Lucia close to the beach, waterfalls and historic kilns of Limekiln State Park, the family-run Lucia Lodge extends a welcoming touch with cozy cabins sporting grandiose ocean views.

The 10 cabins include gas fireplaces, pillow-top bedding and oceanfront picnic areas. Although the property’s restaurant is temporarily closed due to a fire, a taco truck arrives Wednesday through Saturday. What else do you need?

Ragged Point Inn

A variety of room choices at Ragged Point Inn aid guests in finding the view or price point desired. The Cliff-Side and Deluxe rooms at Ragged Point Inn unveil unobstructed ocean views of the Big Sur Coast from the top of a 350-foot cliff. More affordable Garden Rooms are situated in the property’s beautiful redwood tree lobby building. Views from the Garden Rooms range from the Pacific Ocean to the captivating Santa Lucia Coastal Mountains.

For a home-like setting, consider the Cliff House guestrooms which also reward guests with those coveted ocean views. Or, if you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends, renting the entire Cliff House is possible.

The Ragged Point Inn’s onsite gourmet restaurant serves up fresh, delicious California cuisine, featuring produce from the onsite cliff-side gardens, fresh, local seafood, and a wide variety of local California wines and craft beers. Nearby, plaza businesses host summer concerts, roadside barbeques and tasty locally-made ice cream.

Big Sur Campgrounds & Cabins

Located near the Big Sur River and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with the dreamy Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur Campgrounds & Cabins offers a high-end camping experience sans the tent. A riverfront property, the campsites feature 20 cozy, wood-paneled cabins set amidst towering redwoods. Each cabin is warmed by a pot belly stove or fireplace.

Amenities include luxury organic linens, locally made body products crafted from Big Sur botanicals, a Fellow French press with freshly ground coffee from San Francisco’s Wrecking Ball, complimentary river inner tubes and personal shuttle service to local attractions.

Big Sur River Inn

Ideally situated near the Big Sur River and Andrew Molera State Park, the Big Sur River Inn offers comfortable motel-style guest rooms with updated features. A highlight of the property, the indoor-outdoor restaurant sits along the banks of the Big Sur River.

Inviting Adirondack chairs strewn about the river’s shallow waters invite weary road trippers to grab a seat and enjoy a glass of wine. The property also features an adjacent general store and deli. Check out the details on Booking.com.

Treebones Resort

Exuding a serene and meditative vibe, the Treebones Resort is an off-the-grid retreat with enhanced yurts with hardwood floors, plush beds and private decks with ocean views of the Pacific. A fabulous glamping experience, amenities at Treebones Resort include a hot tub, heated outdoor swimming pool, private decks overlooking the Pacific Ocean, omakase sushi and morning yoga.

Fernwood Resort

For Big Sur coastline road trippers looking for variety, the Fernwood Resort delivers. Here you’ll find everything from motel rooms to RV spots with fire pits to cabins and comfy glamping in canvas Adventure Tents outfitted with hardwood floors, queen beds and heaters.

Located near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the Big Sur River, Fernwood Resort‘s amenities include full kitchens, an onsite tavern with a full bar, an espresso bar and a general store.

Ripplewood Resort

Family-owned Ripplewood Resort consists of 17 rustic cabins spread throughout a stand of old-growth redwoods. Most cabins feature kitchens, fireplaces and personal fire pits. A highlight of Ripplewood Resort, a homey cafe serves up comfort foods including buttermilk pancakes and Huevos Rancheros.

Ventana Big Sur Adults Only – A Hyatt Hotel

Looking for an adults-only getaway? Ventana Big Sur is the place to go. Boasting 160 picturesque hillside acres overlooking the Pacific coastline, Ventana Big Sur provides an abundance of amenities. The property includes two heated outdoor swimming pools adjoined by a Japanese hot tub. The resort also offers free wifi and spacious guest rooms including window seats, private balconies or patios with views of the redwood forest and the Pacific Ocean. Select units also feature hot tubs on the decks or fireplaces.

The Sur House Terrace and Bar overlooks the coastline. The Andrew Molera State Park and Pfeiffer Beach are within walking distance. The area also includes hiking trails, horseback riding and whale watching.

Post Ranch Inn

For a 5-star experience, consider a stay at the Post Ranch Inn.  A jewel among Big Sur hotels, the Post family worked this land for generations, first as a homestead and then later as a farm.

Today it retains much of its original character, with the added distinction of offering visitors a serene getaway. You won’t find any TVs or alarm clocks at Post Ranch Inn. Instead, you’ll find a luxury hotel with oceanfront rooms nestled into the California coast featuring locally-inspired decor.

Riverside Campground & Cabins

For another campground option, consider Riverside Campground & Cabins. Situated on 16 acres surrounded by awe-inspiring redwoods, Riverside Campground & Cabins features 34 campsites for tents or RVs and 12 cabins along the Big Sur River. Campsites include fire pits and picnic tables. Clean restrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities add to the comforts of camping here. Cabins include queen beds and natural wood interiors along with shared or private decks.

Recreation options abound with beach access and hiking trails just 10 minutes away. Seasonal fishing is available and catch-and-release fishing happens from November through February. And for the ultimate lazy day experience, float down the Big Sur River in an inner tube. Ah, paradise found!

Terri Marshall Avatar
Based in New York City, Terri Marshall is an award-winning writer covering cultural travel, multi-generational travel, road trips, soft-adventure, camping, cars and characters. From hanging out with penguins in Antarctica to fishing for piranhas in Peru to road-tripping through the jungles of Belize, Terri’s always up for an adventure. Drop her into a landscape filled with mountains, towering evergreens, waterfalls and a glacier or two and she’ll be in heaven. But what thrills her most of all is traveling with her teenage grandkids. Terri serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee for the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA). She also serves as the First Vice-Chair of the Eastern Chapter for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Terri’s publication credits include AARP, Island Soul, Girl Camper Magazine, A Girls Guide to Cars, CHILLED, World Footprints, North Hills Monthly, Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Contractor and more. Follow her on Instagram at TrippingWithTerri.
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