10 Unique Experiential Things to Do in Big Sur

Sitting along the Pacific coastline is Big Sur, a beautiful destination for nature lovers and explores. Close to Monterey, Big Sur is a great day vacation to get you out of the more popular cities and spend more time outdoors and in nature.

Known for their photogenic sunsets and breathtaking natural attractions, you’ll wonder why you never headed out of Big Sur before.

So, get ready to learn about all the unique things to do in Big Sur for your next visit!

Check out each state park’s website mentioned in this article to be sure if it is open to the public and if a reservation is needed before arriving.

Big Sur California ocean views

The Best Things to Do in Big Sur for a Memorable Adventure

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

  • Address: 52801 CA-1

By far, one of the most popular Big Sur attractions is Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Before heading into this state park, check out their website to see if they are closed due to extreme weather conditions or fires.

While in the state park, you will have numerous hiking trails that allow you to explore the gorgeous redwoods, and some even take you to waterfalls. The trails range from easy to difficult, so be sure to grab a map to figure out which trail is the best for you.

Pfeiffer Keyhole Rock in Big Sur California

Pfeiffer Beach

  • Address: 9100 Sycamore Canyon Rd 

Want a really unique thing to do in Big Sur? Then head to Pfeiffer Beach. This is a secluded beach with stunning rock formations and beautiful bluffs.

One big attraction at the beach is the Pfeiffer Keyhole Rock, which is hard to miss due to its distinguishable arch. You can enjoy a stroll along the water and look at tide pools during low tide, but it is not recommended to swim here.

Andrew Molera State Park

  • Address: 45500 CA-1

The Andrew Molera State Park gives you 4,800-acres of beautiful land that offers tons of attractions for anyone. The park is filled with hiking trails, redwood groves, and meadows that give you a picture-perfect backdrop to your day.

Bikes and horseback riding is allowed in this area, and you can head out to Pfeiffer Beach, which connects to the park if you want through a trail.

Garrapata State Park 

  • Address: 34500 CA-1

Smaller than the two previously mentioned parks, the Garrapata Stata Park is 3,000-acres and sits right below the St. Lucia Mountains. There are five main trails throughout this park: four of them group together and head into the St. Lucia Mountains.

The trails can also take you out to Garrapata Beach, and most of those are a little easier to hike if you’re not ready to work up a sweat.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

  • Address: Pfeiffer Big Sur Rd

Yes, there are a lot of Pfeiffer parks throughout Big Sur, and this is the third one so far. This smaller park is 1,600 acres and runs adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest. One key feature of the Big Sur state park is the waterfall you can hike to.

This park is also for you if you’re overseeing the ocean since it is located more inland in Big Sur, giving you less of a coastal view when exploring. There is 8-miles worth of trails, and the 1.4-mile Pfeiffer Falls hike will take you to a stunning 60-foot waterfall.

Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is perfect for relaxing and hanging out, especially if you don’t want to hike or explore the state parks. This beach is the largest, unbroken stretch of beach in Big Sur and offers a stunning view. It is a hot spot for surfing and fishing, but one big attraction is the number of sand dollars on the shore.

Limekiln State park Big Sur California

Limekiln State Park

  • Address: 63025 CA-1

Seven miles from Sand Dollar Beach is a 716-acre park named after a limestone business that once operated there. During the 17th century, the Rockland Lime and Lumber Company would function in this park and produce powdered lime and other ingredients to make cement.

Today, the state park is located on one of the steepest coastal canyons in the United States and the only state park in Big Sur where you can get immediate beach access with heading onto a trail.

Since the park is on the smaller side, it offers two less than a mile long trails. It is great for first-time hikers or anyone on a time limit. One of the trails will take you to a 100-foot waterfall, while the other leads to old limekilns. Don’t you thing this is one of the top Big Sur places to see? We do!


  • Address: 48510 CA-1

While exploring all the state parks and beaches in Big Sur, you’re going to work up an appetite. Stop into Nepenthe, which sits on a cliffside in Big Sur and offers stunning ocean views. They serve typical American fares, like veggie burgers, French dips, and shrimp BLT.

The location is perfect, too, if you’re leaving Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and heading back to Monterey because it’s right in the middle. Underneath Nepenthe is also a little shop called The Phoenix Shop, which you can stop into.

Big Sur Roadhouse

  • Address: 47080 CA-1

Big Sur Roadhouse serves locally and seasonally sourced California cuisine with a modern-rustic setting. They’re open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 2:30 pm, and their menu includes burgers, fried shrimp, and salads. If the weather is nice, sit outside and enjoy the redwoods.

Sometimes heading out of the big city and spending time in nature is much needed. With plenty of things to do, Big Sur is the perfect destination to head into for fresh air, beautiful redwoods, and enjoying time outside.

Looking for more places to visit in Central Coast California? Check these posts!

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