Big Sur is one of the most spectacular settings along the Pacific Coast, just south of Carmel. You can stay there or drive south from Carmel to explore for the day.
My recommendations include:
Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant: Suggested by a local chef, I chose this fun bakery and cafe for lunch. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is known for its soups, salads, pizza, sandwiches, vegetables, grilled meats and seafood. It also has excellent pastries, desserts and breads along with a full tea and coffee drink menu. I had a very fresh arugula salad with smoked salmon and went back for a chai latte and an oatmeal raisin cookie for the road on the way out of town.
Nepenthe: This cliffside restaurant is a local’s favorite since 1949. You can dine upstairs in the main restaurant or grab a coffee and pastry at Cafe Kevah below. It is a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the coast. There is also a wonderful shop, the Phoenix Shop, featuring clothing, jewelry, ceramics, home decor, glass, stationery, books and music. You can find many buddhas as well. You will love the setting. I have always loved going there since I first found it in the 1980’s.
Post Ranch Inn: Always on many top lists, this is a luxury resort overlooking the ocean in Big Sur. It has wonderful views and offers great dining, hiking, walks, yoga, meditation and other classes for all guests. Their Sierra Mar restaurant has wonderful views. 47900 Highway 1 Big Sur, CA.
Ventana Inn & Spa: This is a beautiful, rustic well-known hotel overlooking the ocean below. There is a separate restaurant, The Sur House, with stunning views from the terrace. Go for a meal or just have a drink.
The Esalen Institute: This is the well known retreat and education center where you can stay and attend workshops in communication, mindfulness, meditation, happiness, journal writing and many more. They are known for their massages and hot springs. There are public nights available for the hot springs on nights with a full moon. I am definitely having a massage on my next trip! The views are supposed to be amazing.
Henry Miller Memorial Library: Author and painter Henry Miller lived in Big Sur from 1944 to 1962. For you literary buffs and fans of his work, you can visit the library which also serves as a cultural resource center, functioning as a public gallery, performance and workshop space for artists, writers, musicians and students. 48603 Highway One.
The Big Sur Roadhouse, at 47080 Hwy 1, is a new restaurant recommended by Food & Wine Magazine. I will add to my list for next time!!