South of Andrew Molera, Hwy-1 cuts inland toward the heart of Big Sur, the deep and densely forested valley carved by the Big Sur River. Consisting of little more than three gas stations, a couple of roadside markets, and a number of lodges and restaurants, the mile-long village of Big Sur (pop. 1,463) represents the only real settlement between Carmel and Hearst Castle.

At the north end of town, the Big Sur River Inn (831/667-2700, $150 and up) has a woodsy, warm, and unpretentious restaurant overlooking the river, and rooms upstairs and across the highway. Next door is a small complex that includes crafts galleries, a grocery store with a burrito bar, and the homey Maiden Publick House (831/667-2355), which features good beers and pub grub. Continuing south, the next mile of Hwy-1 holds Big Sur’s nicest group of rustic cabins and campgrounds: Besides a handful of quaint cabins in a quiet location, downhill from the highway and right on the riverbanks, Ripplewood Resort (831/667-2242) also has a friendly café on the east side of Hwy-1, serving good breakfasts and lunches, as well as a handy gas station and general store.

At the south end of the Big Sur village, a classic 1950s motor court has been updated and restored to its vintage glory (now with free Wi-Fi) as Glen Oaks Big Sur (831/667-2105, $225 and up).

Travel map of Big Sur
Big Sur
Map of Pacific Coast through California's Central Coast.
Map of Pacific Coast through California’s Central Coast.