Artists are still living in this area, but their neighbors today are many affluent families who can afford the property prices which sometimes are very high here. There are no actual towns here, but merely singular residences, some loosely connected and a few nests consisting of a hotel, a shop and a gas station.
Big Sur is characterized by a rocky, ragged coastline with a quickly ascending topography. For example, only five kilometres from the coast, in the southern half of the area, the Cone Peak rises to a height of 1570 metres and beyond the mountain, there are the peaks of the Santa Lucia Range. Up until the 1930s, this tourist attraction was almost completely uncharted. Back at the beginning of the 19th century, the Redwoods forests had grown all the way close to the Pacific Ocean. The coastal road Highway 1 was completed in 1937 and ever since then, Big Sur ceased to be mostly farm land, but instead developed quickly. The road has a number of scenic overlooks, all with some parking space attached to them, because most of the three million tourists coming to Big Sur each year hardly ever leave the highway. This although there are good opportunities off of the road to hike or mountainbike. In some places there are also short beach sections, but these are not suitable for swimmers due to the rough waters here.
Altogether, there are nine California State Parks in Big Sur. In the central portion of the area is Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where the McWay Falls are, one of the few points where a waterfall goes right down into the Pacific Ocean. The State Park offers campgrounds. Among further sights there are some historic light houses along the coast. One example is Point Pinos Light near Pacific Grove in the North of Big Sur, which has been set up in 1855 or the Point Sur Lighthouse, first lit in 1889
Those who start the drive along the coast in the North will come across the Bixby Creek Bridge some 20 kilometres south of Carmel, one of the most photographed bridges of the country. The bridge, 218 metres long and 85 metres high, was opened to traffic in 1932 and has thus blazed the path to touring Big Sur by car.
There is not much of a tourist infrastructure in the Big Sur area due to its sparse population density and the residents’ and environmentalists’ successful resistance against too much development. Thus, Big Sur has only little accomodation opportunities and it is advisable to start from one of the towns in he vicinity to explore the region.