Features

5 Spots Of Unrivalled Natural Beauty In The USA

Wanderlust in overdrive.

#2 Big Sur, CA

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An opaque fog hung over the tallest redwoods as far as the eye could see. Almost seven hours north of Los Angeles and two hours south of San Francisco, along the Californian coast and the famous Highway 1, we entered an entirely new realm – an otherworldly place with magic in the air. Like the fog, the magic closes in on you the further you drive through the trees. The road to Big Sur itself (travelled by the likes of Jack Kerouac) is insanely beautiful – comparable to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. We weaved in and out of rocky coastline and tree cover to reach a county of incredible privacy and outdoor adventures.

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Lust-worthy for day-trippers and weekend wanderers, Big Sur accommodates everyone from glampers to nomads and poets. We checked into Deetjens Inn, a boutique bed and breakfast nestled among the redwoods that could have been home to Hobbits. We hiked around the surrounding property in the rain, witnessed some shooting stars in the darkest of skies, and fell asleep before a dying fire. There are also plenty of options for campers. Just take your pick of forest or beaches and have unsurpassed access to both – creeks, hikes and forest walks wait at your doorstep.

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We immediately made our way to Pfieffer State Beach, home of purple sands and amazing rock formations such as the well-photographed keyhole arch. If you visit at sunset you can watch streams of gold fall behind the horizon and over the rocks, or wander the surrounding woods to feel like a real life Red Riding Hood. The waves are heavy as they crash up against the cliffs, which span for miles in either direction. Swimmers tip: the nearby Andrew Molera State Beach, where locals surf, is slightly less populated, but go armed with a wetsuit to brave the icy sea.

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The road trip through Big Sur is half the beauty of this destination. The scenic Highway 1 hugs the coast for a full day’s worth of driving and exploring. Schedule plenty of time for stops and photo opportunities – the architecturally stunning Bixby Bridge and the picturesque McWay Falls are both sights to behold, while the overall vastness of the towering, rocky coastline can make you feel like the smallest thing on earth.

Up next: Lake Tahoe, California…

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