You might enjoy doing absolutely nothing or relax by reading a book or painting the landscape but there are plenty of more exciting things to do and see if that’s what you want. Personally I like to take along some art supplies and paint or do some writing, I get pleasure from sightseeing and photography.
Yes you can eat at a restaurant and spend big bucks, myself I like to include at least one picnic meal in my Big Sur excursions But it's your vacation...here on this page are my favorite picnic spots…you should find something here that will pleasure you to do on your vacation or at least stimulate your imagination.
Stuff you can do and things you may want to see while vacationing Big Sur...
- Beach Combing, Tidepooling and Kite Flying - It’s fun to walk the edge of the surf and discover what small treasures the sea has cast your way and when the tide is low you can explore the living miniature world of the tidepool and as it often does should the wind blow you should keep a kite handy… READ MORE
- Bird Watching and Condor Spotting - From the tiny hummingbirds to the giant condors, throw in the raptors and all the shorebirds and you have a bird watchers heaven… READ MORE
- Dining - You don’t have to eat out in Big Sur you can picnic or pass through to Cambria or Monterey but then you will miss unique eateries like… READ MORE
- Elephant Seals - It is not the only place to see elephant seals but the best close by place is… READ MORE
- Events - Big Sur has many famous annual events like the Jade Festival Festival and Big Sur Marathon but the most popular happening these days is… READ MORE
- Hiking & Backpacking - Take five minutes and hike from your vehicle to Salmon Creek Falls or trek 5 days into the Ventana wilderness but you must…READ MORE
- History Trips - Two California missions, a castle and ... READ MORE
- Hunting & Fishing - Big game not so much and trophy fish are few but... READ MORE
- Light Houses - One at each end of Big Sur no shortage… READ MORE
- Lodging - No you don’t have to book a room you can save money by… READ MORE
- Miscellaneous Activities: - Horseback riding, Hearst Castle, Monterey Bay Aquarium and... READ MORE
- Monarch Butterflies - Every year they flock by the thousands… READ MORE
- Picnicking - More fun at a lesser cost than a restaurant… More fun at a lesser cost than the Big Sur restaurants picnicking can be as simple or extravagant as you like, it’s the place and the company that make it wonderful memorable experience.
Picnicking Big Sur is a “stop and smell the roses” kind of activity that allows all to slow down and soak up the ambiance and enjoy the environment and saves you some money as well.
You can grab a fresh baked French bread, some choice cheeses and bottle complementing wine and don’t forget to take an old blanket, you’re all set. You can just drive along the highway until you spot the perfect pullout. Or you can load up an ice chest with barbecue meat, beer and deli items and make a planed stop at one of Big Sur’s many picnic areas, pick a spot with whatever amenities you like.
Some of my favorite picnic spots at the northern end of the scenic Big Sur Pacific Coast Highway 1 are Point Lobos California State Reserve, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Point Lobos has rules and restrictions regarding food and picnicking in the park: Eating is allowed only at picnic tables in picnic areas located at the parking lots of Whalers Cove, Piney Woods, and Bird Island parking; all picnic areas have restrooms, two of these have ocean views but none can really compete with other more scenic areas of the park.
Whalers Cove is the first right turn off the main road after you enter the park. Piney Woods is in a peaceful Monterey Pine Forested area in the middle just off the main road on the south shore. The Bird Island parking area is at the very end of the main road. All of these spots are very different. Picnicking is not allowed in other areas of the park and food or drinks is not supposed to be taken on the trails.
Andrew Molera State Park has picnic tables up by the parking lot but most people prefer to huff it down the trail across the river about a mile to the beach to picnic.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has day use areas with amenities like picnic tables, pedestal barbecue grills, running water and restrooms in the wonderful serene redwood forest. The park also has the advantage of the Big Sur Lodge’s general store in case you forgot the mayo or whatever.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers the convenience of being just off the highway next to the parking lot and it offers a picnic area with tables, pedestal barbecue grills, running water and restrooms all next to the creek in the wonderful serene redwood forest. If you are looking to walk of some of those excess calories from that fried chicken and potato salad picnic the park has several nice scenic trails for all skill levels, the short hike to view McWay Falls is not to be missed.
Heading south my next favorite picnic spot would be Sand Dollar Beach; the extensive picnic amenities are up on the bluff above the beach, there is parking, picnic tables, pedestal barbecue grills, water, restrooms and a grassy play area. It is quite easy to get down to Sand Dollar Beach there is a stairway and trail which leads down the almost vertical cliff; getting back up is a lot more work but the lengthy white sand beach is worth the effort, this is one of the nicest beaches on the Big Sur coast.
Next would be Mill Creek Day Use Picnic area followed by Willow Creek Day Use Area about 7 miles further south. Both Mill Creek Picnic Area & Beach and Willow Creek Picnic Area & Beach are Spartan and similar; picnic tables by a rocky beach and restrooms.
Next to the south is one of my favorite picnic stops Ragged Point. They have ocean view grassy areas and benches as well as a large patio covered with picnic tables. There is a small market in case you forgot anything and a great espresso bar if you are looking for a pick-me-up after your big picnic. Ragged Point is a PCH traveler “must stop” even if you’re not on a picnic.
- Shopping - Find gifts for a friend and or a souvenir for yourself… - READ MORE
- Sightseeing, 4 wheeling and Photography - Looking about, riding around and shooting...READ MORE
- Spa Services -Saunas, Hot Tubs, Massage, Relax and enjoy…READ MORE
- Water Sports, Surfing, Scuba and Skin Diving, Kayaking - Not the best in the world for any water activity but…READ MORE
- Whale Watching - Watch with binoculars from the shore anywhere or take a tour… READ MORE