Photography by Paul Giamou / Aurora Photos

The rugged abandon of California’s Central Coast has been given the cinematic treatment in Sundance darling and newly released Big Sur, starring Kate Bosworth. Based on Jack Kerouac’s eponymous novel, the film highlights the haunting beauty and isolated wilderness that drew the Beat writer to retreat here in the first place.

Relive it for yourself, or discover the splendor of the serpentine coast for the first time, on one of America’s most beloved road trips.

Nowhere is the Pacific Coast Highway’s winding roads more magnificent than along Big Sur’s craggy cliffs and crashing surf some 30 miles south of Carmel, CA.

Crossing Bixby Bridge, “the gem of California’s iconic Route 1,” as locals call it, you’ll find unparalleled panoramic views of the pounding Pacific. That is, if you can stomach the vertigo-inducing vista.

Most of the forbidden beaches dotting the highway are inaccessible, or require a serious hike, so make sure to stop off at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to take in an 80-foot waterfall as it cascades from granite cliffs onto the beach below.

Decamp streamside in the Big Sur Valley, or bluff-side in the southern end of Big Sur to wake up to an ocean view — or that omnipresent coastal fog.

If you want to sleep among the towering redwood trees but are looking for more romantic accommodations, check into the Post Ranch Inn. The oceanfront inn features the ultimate in green luxury, including early morning yoga and culinary tours of the organic chef’s garden.

Our writer, Terry Ward, urges: “If you stop at only one spot, make it Nepenthe Restaurant. There you can sip a glass of wine perched atop a cliff with the views beckoning below.” Continue your Big Sur experience with the rest of Ward’s Pacific Coast Highway guide.

You May Also Like:

Anne Hathaway’s Big Sur Nuptials
California’s Most Spectacular Camping Spots
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One Response

  1. Hi can you explain in detail vertigo inducing vista.

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Sara GilliamSara is a Senior Producer for Travel She has eaten her way through Thailand, sailed around the coast of Greece -- and thought she died and went to heaven...


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