10 days in Big Sur inspired Nate Padavick to create this map of many of the regions highlights. Read on to see pictures from Nate's trip, get the inside scoop on great hikes, good food, and be inspired to plan your own Big Sur adventure!
Illustrations, photographs and commentary by Nate Padavick | edited by Jennifer Hoyden
Big Sur is a sparsely populated and heavily forested region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly and majestically from the Pacific Ocean. The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big south". The terrain offers stunning views, making Big Sur a super popular tourist destination. The northern end of Big Sur is about 120 miles (190 km) south of San Francisco, and the southern end is approximately 245 miles (394 km) northwest of Los Angeles. The only major road servicing this region is the ultra-scenic Highway 1, which literally hugs the coast and offers breath-taking views at every turn (and there are a lot of turns!).
Two hippy newlyweds were driving this sweet old VW Bus; the Big Sur Lodge is a great place to stay; view from the top of Mt. Manuel.
In Big Sur, hiking trails abound in the many hills and mountains that overlook the rugged coast and beautiful waters below. The amazing views await to reward the hikers, while destinations like the Henry Miller Library, Big Sur Bakery, and Julia Pfeiffer Beach make for pretty excellent reasons to stay down by the coast.
The clear night skies are famous for clear star-gazing, and January brings some of the best weather to the area, but spring brings with it a lot of excitement: the return of the Gray whales, the condor viewing tours, and the May-time transition into summer bringing out the wild flowers. There isn't really an "off-season" in Big Sur. Stick around in late summer to expand your whale sightings to include Blue whales, Orcas and Humpbacks, and before you know it, it's late fall and the Monarch butterflies return to their favorite wintering grounds. As Nate's map shows, it's easy to understand their choice!
Watch the waves crash at Soberones Point; Nate hiking through a coastal meadow; Jim on Julia Pfeiffer Beach.
The Inside Scoop
We asked Nate to tell us what he knows and loves about Big Sur and this was his super insightful response:
"This past January my boyfriend Jim and I drove up the California coast from LA to San Francisco. We decided to spend 10 days in Big Sur - a total luxury! We spent 3 nights at the Big Sur Lodge (a great basecamp for lots of hikes), 2 nights at Deetjen's (probably the most charming inn ever) and 5 nights in a vacation rental cabin (up a 3 mile long twisty-turny dirt road, yikes!). Every morning we had a couple cappuccinos and some fresh-baked cinnamon rolls while sitting on the front porch of the Big Sur Bakery. From there we stocked up on snacks at the grocery next door and hit the trails. Mt. Manuel was a grueling, sun-baked 5-hour roundtrip hike, but the payoff was seriously spectacular views of everything. The Pine Ridge Trail was equally long, but in the shade of redwoods mostly and offered tons of great vistas along the way. Sobranes Point has a trail that starts at the ocean and winds up steeply thru ocean meadow to a little bench overlooking the coast then dives down into a redwood canyon that leads back to the beach."
"After a long day of hiking there are quite few great places to re-fuel for dinner: Nepenthe has an outdoor deck with the best views ever, Deetjen's has a great breakfast and dinner menu, Big Sur Bakery has wood-fired pizzas that are not to be missed, The River Inn has great burgers, and most importantly Fernwood Tavern has a great little dive-bar to add on a few extra liquid carbohydrates! Being January, we heard that we just missed the monarch migration, but we spent 2 hours watching whales while sitting on the rocks at Sobrones Point. I could go on and on. Big Sur is totally magical!"
The Big Sur Bakery; breakfast on their front porch; the Lower Creek Cottage at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn.
If you go, good stuff to know
• Big Sur Chamber of Commerce
• Hiking in Big Sur
• Henry Miller Memorial Library
Hotels & Restaurants
• Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
• Big Sur Lodge
• Treebones Resort
• Big Sur Bakery
• Fernwood Tavern
• The River Inn
Going to California? TDAT has many more great maps of awesome places all over the state of California! You won't find this kind of insider info in any guidebook, that's for sure!
about the artist
Nate Padavick is one half of the brother/sister design team Studio SSS, specializing in artwork for greeting cards, illustrations for magazines and graphic design for arts organizations. A super inspired creative-thinker, Nate and his sister/design partner, Salli, together launched not only this site, but also it's sister-site dedicated to illustrated recipes, They Draw & Cook , which has produced a fantastic cook book and endless fun for foodies everywhere. Nate's greeting cards can be bought online from Great Arrow Graphics and Cardstore.com. He has also created many other illustrated maps as well as illustrated recipes.
What do you think?
Have you been here? If so, please use the comment box below to share your stories, recommendations, suggestions and thoughts with everyone! Thanks!