What to do in Big Sur

Big Sur is arguably the most iconic stretch of coastline in America. It's been filmed, videoed, photographed, and documented in writing so often over the last century that even those who've never set foot in Northern California feel they know it. Yet as magnificent as the images and words are, as revered as the artists who created them remain, those works pale in comparison to being there. To stand on the wind-sculpted cliffs looking out over a sky and sea on fire in the setting sun, or to hear the pulsing roar of the surf, is to experience Big Sur's coastline as no portrait permits. Highway 1 is no less iconic, a singular string of isolated beaches and trails that climb through redwoods to panoramic overlooks and a quartet of Big Sur state parks, each with its own charm. Andrew Molera State Park draws families, surfers, and birders. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park thrills scuba divers, and you can often spot wildlife from Garrapata State Park Beach. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers novices a fine trail. Spend enough time on this coastline and you may just be inspired to photograph, paint, or write about it yourself.

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