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Destination Inspiration: Big Sur, USA

Head down to Pfeiffer Beach just before sunset for unforgettable views

Head down to Pfeiffer Beach just before sunset for unforgettable views

Why go?

Big Sur is a magical part of the world. On this untouched stretch of California’s coast, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise high above the Pacific as waterfalls cascade down to emerald coves. The famous Highway 1 curves dangerously along the cliffs, past redwood forests, and over narrow, mist-covered bridges. Stand on an outcrop while watching the fog roll in, and there’s a good chance you’ll start imagining mermaids swimming down below.

Redwood forests are dotted with hiking trails and hidden waterfalls

Redwood forests are dotted with hiking trails and hidden waterfalls

In a place where myths come to life, the best way to spend the day is surrounded by nature. Try climbing up cliffs, hiking moss-covered trails, or just getting lost in the redwood forests. At the Henry Miller Memorial Library, locals brew coffee and host the occasional folk concert or movie night. This little wooden house in the forest is a poetic tribute to the writer, who spent time living and working in Big Sur – just like Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. Today, only a few people live here – the rest just travel through, taking in the rugged landscape one view at a time.

When to go?

Enjoy misty coastal views from the edge of  cliff

Enjoy misty coastal views from the edge of cliff

This is California: it’s pretty much always nice. For breezy weather and lighter crowds, your best bet is from September to November. By then, the summer fog known as “June gloom” is long gone, and you’ll get more of the lookouts to yourself.

Where to stay?

Big Sur River Inn – Big Sur, USA

This redwood lodge is packed with rustic charm, with a massive stone fireplace and Adirondack chairs on the back porch. It’s located next to Big Sur River, in the middle of dense forests off Highway 1, and thanks to its riverside location, you can easily fall asleep to the sound of the water.

Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort – Big Sur, USA

Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort

Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort

If you want a romantic weekend, Ventana Inn & Spa is the perfect place for you. Here, rooms look out over the Pacific with private decks and fireplaces. On the terrace, you can unwind in the heated pools or Japanese hot tub. Booking.com guests especially loved the extras – soft sheets, cheese and wine in the afternoon, and an on-site naturalist who offers hiking and horseback riding tips.

Bernardus Lodge & Spa – Carmel Valley, USA

Bernardus Lodge & Spa

Bernardus Lodge & Spa

Drive about 20 miles north on Highway 1, turn off the main road, and you’ll reach this stunning 5-star resort. Surrounded by rolling hills and big open skies, it has all the extra touches you could ever dream of, including limestone fireplaces, soaking tubs, and down feather beds. You’ll also find a top-rated restaurant, a wellness spa, and an outdoor heated pool.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands – Carmel, CA

Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Just a half hour north of Big Sur is the fairytale town of Carmel. Here, you’ll find cottages and art galleries lining village streets and surfers hitting the beach. The Hyatt overlooks the Pacific from an incredible clifftop just south of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Every room has a fireplace and ocean views, and you can get to town in less than 10 minutes.

Cavalier Oceanfront Resort – San Simeon, CA

Cavalier Oceanfront Resort

Cavalier Oceanfront Resort

Whether you’re driving up or down the coast, you can’t skip a tour of Hearst Castle. This incredible mansion is located in San Simeon, just a few hours south of Big Sur by car. Make a night of it at the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort – it’s only 3 miles from Hearst Castle and has the most peaceful beachfront rooms ever.