Social Distancing in Big Sur: A Guide

Evelynn Escobar-ThomasJuly 22, 2020

Social Distancing in Big Sur: A Guide

With the current state of Covid-19, many people are reconnecting with the land in the name of social distancing. In need of a celebratory getaway, my husband, my dog, and I set out on a trip of many firsts from Los Angeles up to Big Sur. Our first Outdoorsy RV trip, our first Big Sur trip, and our first social distancing trip since lockdown.


Our Outdoorsy rental had everything we needed to live off the grid for a few nights, including a compostable toilet. We brought the essentials like pre-packaged meals for dinner, snacks, bathing suits, clothing to hike in, sunscreen, our dog Milo, and lots of water! 

Day One

We split our first day in Big Sur, driving up the coast from Los Angeles. Once you get into the area, there are a ton of pullover spots on the side of the road to soak up the views in.

McWay Falls

Our first official stop was at the iconic McWay Falls. It’s home to an 80-foot waterfall that trickles down off of a rigid coastline to a serene cove. Although Julia Pfeiffer State Park is currently closed due to Covid-19, we were still able to view the site from the trail adjacent to the road above. It’s a must-see for any first-timer!

Soberanes Point and Whale Peak

The beauty of Big Sur is that every site is something worth taking in. Take Sobarenes Point and Whale Peak, for instance. They were not on our list of things to do and see, but the view from the road compelled us to stop and look further. We’re so glad that we did! We parked in the lot on the side of the road and walked the path down to the ocean viewpoint which takes you through a field of sprawling wildflowers. On one side, you get the Pacific and the other, a hill of wildflowers. It’s a perfect spot to sit and just be for a while. 

Pebble Beach Drive

Our last stop of the day was a drive along the scenic 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach. From there, we visited the Lone Cypress, a beautiful Monterey Cypress that has weathered a granite cliff for over 250 years. Next, we followed the path a bit further and watched the sunset from Fan Shell Beach Overlook. The perfect finale to our first day.

Day Two

Partington Cove

Partington Cove is another one of those roadside attractions that you can just stumble on by sheer curiosity. It was one of our favorite stops during our time there. A winding trail and 60-foot tunnel take you to a tucked-away paradise that is Partington Cove. From there, you can unwind or explore as much as your heart desires. We spotted starfish, sea urchins, and other marine life while exploring the grounds.

Pfeiffer State Park

Home to the Big Sur River Gorge and beautiful redwoods, we briefly visited Pfeiffer State Park. A trip to Big Sur with a pup in tow can be tricky, but thankfully this park has a couple of dog-friendly trails: The River Path and Warden’s Path. We walked along the river, where many guests were wading and playing. For those looking for more of an adventure, the park offers hikes of all levels. All in all, the park is an inclusive and dog-friendly choice.

Prewitt Ridge

Due to COVID-19, Big Sur and its available campsites are booked out for months. With that said, we didn’t let it deter us from our Outdoorsy adventure. Armed with a Sprinter van made to go off-road, we put it to the test by making the trek up to Big Sur’s most scenic primitive campsite, Prewitt Ridge. At above 3200 ft in elevation, the drive from the bottom to the top takes about an hour. Having a car meant for off-roading (4×4) is imperative! We saw a regular sedan get towed out and heard about a 12-car pileup on our last night. It’s no joke! As challenging as it may be, it was truly the gem of the trip. The view is incredible, the sunset is next level, and the stargazing was no different. To say that it is one of the most serene places to camp in Big Sur is an understatement. It’s most definitely one of those places that have to be experienced to fully grasp how amazing it is! One thing to note, because there are no dumping facilities, etc., it’s extremely important to abide by leave no trace guidelines. Thanks to our extremely efficient setup, that was not difficult at all. I would advise those who are thinking about camping there for the night to arrive no later than an hour before sunset for a prime ridge site. Although everyone up there is abiding by social distancing measures, it can get pretty full closer to sunset. Also, make sure to come ready with tons of bug spray because the flies up there are pretty persistent! Last but not least, campfires are never allowed for obvious reasons.

Day Three

Big Sur Bakery

Big Sur Bakery is one of those places that came highly recommended by friends who had visited the area before. The grounds are tucked away unsuspectingly next to a gas station, but it still keeps a whimsical charm. If you’re into pastries, pizza, fried organic chicken, veggie lasagna, and so much more, this is the place for you! 

Pfeiffer State Beach

We spent our last day in Big Sur relaxing by the dog-friendly, Pfeiffer beach. Known for its purple sand and picturesque arches, it’s one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s a great place to soak up some sun and unwind for a bit. You may even catch a surfer or two riding the waves.

Our time in Big Sur was exactly what we needed to come back feeling refreshed and recharged. Spending time out there, and in nature in general, has a great way of putting things into perspective. Keeping our distance, disconnecting for a few days, and resetting in nature not only does the body but the mind so much good.

Evelynn Escobar-Thomas, Outdoorsy Author

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