Have you wanted to go on a road trip but been unable to decide on a place to visit? If that sounds familiar, then this is the right article for you! I will go over the beautiful region of the world, Big Sur, and why this is the perfect place to visit with your family. Honestly, there is so much to see in Big Sur but I will highlight my favorite ten places to visit with kids in Big Sur.
You may be asking what is so special abut Big Sur. Well, Big Sur is a picturesque part of California that straddles the coastline and is full of diverse landscapes! With endless natural parks and scenic buildings everywhere in the area, you will never run out of sights to see.
Furthermore, Big Sur is fun for the entire family, to explore, learn and have fun with activities from building sandcastles to guided tours. To help you in planning your upcoming trip, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 must-see destinations when visiting Big Sur with your kids.
McWay Falls is a must-see. It isa a large and quite scenic waterfall located in Big Sur, the highlight of a pristine and inaccessible cove. Not only are there golden sand beaches at the bottom of the waterfall, but it is also one of the few waterfalls around that empties directly into the ocean! Yes, into the ocean. Besides that the trail to hike where you can see it is easy for kids because it’s short and flat. Be aware though that you can’t get to the falls, except by boat – there is no trail to the beach below.
You can access for free by parking along the highway and walk down the path. The other choice is pay parking at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and walk the trail that goes under the highway. Actually, this option is safer and more fun. It can be fun for kids because you go through a tunnel that runs under the highway.
The view of the waterfall has captivated nature-lovers for years and is sure to create a sense of awe within the whole family. Being near the beach also means you’ll be able to get your toes wet if you feel like it if you keep driving since there is not a path from here to there but the view is captivating right?
Talking about getting your feet wet and staying with the coastal theme, another must-see sight is Pfeiffer Beach. The beach itself is full of ancient rock formations and golden sand bordering the calm but chilly waters of the west coast.
In fact, Pfeiffer Beach is such a must-see amongst holiday goers that it has become one of the most visited beaches in the entirety of the US! What I can say is that it’s gorgeous. I do think the water can be a bit rough for younger children though. We always get in the water but I keep reminding the kids to be cautious and I keep a close eye on them. If you visit remember water is usually cold in the Pacific Ocean and layers are recommended any time of the year.
Whether it be sunbathing or making sandcastles, the area has something for the whole family!
3) Pfeiffer Beach Campgrounds
This campground has no access to the Pfeiffer Beach or the ocean, but is nestled among the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur River Gorge. You can walk along the green bank of the river among the redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows.
This is a gorgeous campground, with so much wildlife and scenic trails. Here you can find the Big Sur Lodge with 61 guest rooms, a conference center, cafe, and a grocery store. We stopped here the first day and got some coffee before starting our hike.
We visited just for the day and were not disappointed!
4) Point Lobos
Point Lobos is such an incredible place where you are treated to some amazing ocean views and coastal landscapes. This is one of my favorite places in the Big Sur area. Point Lobos is located in the greater Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It has been described as one of the most beautiful locations amongst all of California’s two hundred and eighty state parks.
In tis sense, a reserve is an area protecting an entire ecosystem. By protecting entire ecosystems rather than focusing on a single species they preserve all the amazing species of animals, wildlife and sea creatures that surrounded this area.
If you’re planning to visit keep in mind that the parking lot is always busy, and during COVID the parking space are more limited. For this reason if you don’t arrive early, specially during the weekend, you’ll probably need to park on the street and walk the path. There is a path by the road that is relatively safe to walk through get to the main entrance.
Here you can find a variety of sea animals as sea lions (with their pups!) and wildlife. You can hike, bird watch and scuba dive. All of them with magnificent views. There are plenty of trails since it is covers about 8.8 miles. My favorite trail is Whaler Cove and Cypres Grove Trail. Here, some people even sit and meditate. Why not? The views are mind-blowing.
The area is full of coves, beaches, and scuba-diving locations. There are activities for all ages and interests, ranging from learning about the area’s history to exploring rock pools and old buildings! You can appreciate different species of animals and sea creature as well as learn about the California history.
At the same time keep in mind that during COVID, trails are open but not the information service, for more detailed information about this visit here
Perhaps one of the most stunning and iconic sights of Big Sur is the Lone Cypress. This is a single tree standing proudly beside the ocean on top of a granite hillside.
The tree itself is said to be over two centuries old and has been a constant amongst the changing landscape. The view of the small green plant in front of an ocean backdrop is undoubtedly one to impress the kids and teach a lesson or two about the importance of preserving our state and national parks!
The Bixby Creek Bridge is among the most impressive feats of engineering around! With a height of almost three hundred feet and a length of nearly four hundred feet, it is a sight to behold. It is one of the most photographed bridges in California because of its strategic location with stunning coast and mountain views.
The bridge itself is a statewide icon, famous for symbolizing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people that reside in California. It is novel, exciting, and unparalleled in its unique design it is called “graceful architecture and magnificent setting”.
It is so iconic that was commemorated in an express mail stamp issued on February 3, 2010. So, if you drive through Big Sur stop for this amazing view and get your picture here!
6) Garrapata State Park
If you keep driving in Highway 1 you will find Garrapata State Park. It is located 6.7 miles south of Rio Road in Carmel (18 miles north of Big Sur). There is a gorgeous main trail of about 1.25 miles. Garrapata beach has two parking areas along the shoulder of Highway 1. So just be careful when crossing the highway with littles. It is always a busy spot.
Any trip to Big Sur with your family will be incomplete if you do not drop by at the Carmel River State Beach. This area is among the most pristine in the entire region. The beach itself is a mile long and is a protected area free from industrial or destructive activity.
This status as a protected beach has turned the area into a refuge for wild birds who call the shoreline home. This is an incredibly wonderful area for the bird and animal lovers in the family!
This 18-hole golf course is amongst one of the most famous and beautiful golf courses in the world. Not only are state-of-the-art golfing facilities available for those who like golfing, but the course also provides views that are unparalleled in the rest of the world. An entirely green and trimmed golf course set against the backdrop of a vividly blue ocean is enough to make anyone grin!
The Garland Ranch Regional Park is particularly famous for its untouched natural landscapes. Dozens of trails run through the park showing off stunning sights of forests and grasslands alike.
Furthermore, the area hosts an uncountable number of different plant and animal species that will bring out the curious side of the whole family. Everyone will have the chance to be a naturalist and discover something new in this gorgeous landscape!
The Ewoldsen Trail is among the most picturesque hiking locations in all of the United States. The trail zigzags through stunning forests that stand today as they did thousands of years ago. The trail is a remarkable example of natural beauty and is guaranteed to leave everyone stunned as they explore the sights and scents of the forest!
The last but in no way the least beautiful stop on our journey is the Point Sur Lighthouse. This lighthouse overlooks the ocean from the top of a cliff and was used to guide ships through storms and ink-black nights.
Nowadays, it has become a standing symbol of Big Sur’s history and heritage. It exemplifies the spirit of the area stands as a monument to the region and its beauty. Best of all, you can even get guided tours of the lighthouse and learn more about its history as well as the history of the region!
Visiting Big Sur with your family is one of the best decisions you can make. The region is full of adventures to be had and places to learn about hiding behind every corner!