Big Sur

  • A Karen Brown Recommendation

Believe everything you ever read about the beauties of the Big Sur Coastline: it is truly sensational. However, hope for clear weather, because on foggy or rainy days an endless picture of stunning seascapes becomes a tortuous drive around precipitous cliff roads. If you choose only one place to stop along the Big Sur drive, make it Nepenthe, about 3 miles south of the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Nepenthe is a casual restaurant, with a ’60s-style decor, perched on a cliff high above the ocean offering unsurpassed views (on a clear day) of the coast to the south (831-667-2345). Below Nepenthe, The Phoenix Shop has a wonderful selection of clothes, artwork, books, and gifts (831-667-2347). Interestingly, at the heart of the complex is a cottage that Orson Welles bought for his then wife, Rita Hayworth. Another stop along the way where you can gain a closer view of this magnificent coastline is at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The parking area is to the left of the road. Leave your car and take the short walk leading under the highway and round the face of the cliff, which overlooks a superb small cove with emerald-green water and a white-sand beach. From the rocky bluff a waterfall drops directly into the ocean and the restless sea beats against a craggy point. After the Ragged Point Inn, the bends become less frequent, and as the cliffs give way to the coastal plain, the driving becomes less arduous.

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