Imagine driving along the Pacific Coast Highway with your group, excited and smiling at the beautiful California weather and the scenery evident all around your rented convertible. You turn the corner, between a rising mountainside and the bright blue ocean, and then before you unfolds the most breathtaking vista imaginable. The Santa Lucia Mountains ambitiously ascend from the watery depths, breaking the coast in bold swathes and commanding the attention of everyone surrounding.

The region is, however, scarcely populated which only adds to the aura of secluded serenity, the illusion that only you and the coast remain and everything else fades away. The Big Sur region stretches roughly 90 miles from Monterey to San Luis Obispo, and even extends three to twelve miles inland in places. A popular tourist destination, Big Sur is also home to the highest coastal mountain in the Lower 48, Cone Peak, which extends nearly a mile above sea level.

Like most of California, the area was settled first by ancient Native Americans and later assumed by the Spanish government. Evidence of the Native American tribes point to societies thousands of years old, leaving only miner archaeological remains and legends behind. The Spanish, however, have more of a foothold in modern history. Descendants of the Spanish explorers who first discovered California in San Diego reached Big Sur around 1769 though the party, intimidated by the cliffs, avoided the coast. Saint Junipero Serra, father of the Alta California Catholic missions, founded many of his influential churches in Monterey and the surrounding area and they remain to this day significant pieces of history.

Big Sur is more than just a pretty face. From the natural beauty of the region to the history behind its inhabitants, Big Sur offers a wide and varied experience to true California fanatics. Learn about the conservation, ecology, and marine wildlife of Central California's coast or explore the religious and political history of the early settlements. Visit towns like Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea for cultural and entertainment attractions, or simply relax on the beach and let the wonder of the Pacific fill your soul.

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