Even as a full-time travel content creator, sometimes you find yourself being pulled back to a destination over and over. For beauty and travel influencer Francesca Murray that place is Big Sur, California.

"The fact that I’ve traveled around the world, but it still remains one of my favorite places says a lot," Murray shares. "As a California native, I’ve always heard stories about how incredible this region is, and once I went for myself in 2021 I was completely sold."

Describing herself as a repeat traveler, she enjoys going back to places that captured her heart, in hopes of exploring the destination even deeper. To date, the globetrotter has been to over 30 countries and outside of Big Sur, Paris is another repeat fave that she finds herself heading back to often.

"I’ve been to France countless times, and because of that I now speak French fluently and have friends in Paris that I try to visit as often as I can. I’m big on experiencing culture, and I enjoy a little bit of everything when I travel," explains Murray. "One trip may be a baecation full of adventure chasing waterfalls on a Caribbean island, and the next may be a solo luxury vacation where I do nothing but read books and journal for days."

We asked Francesca Murray to share her recommendations for the perfect Big Sur escape. From her favorite spots to visit to the perfect hotels, here's what the content creator says.

Francesca Murray at Lovers Point. Image: Courtesy of Murray.

Must-visit spots in Big Sur

For jaw-dropping views and photos of the area, Murray says to take the scenic drive along 17-Mile Drive. Located in Pebble Beach in Moterey County, it's considered one of the most gorgeous drives in the entire country. Make sure you're prepared to pay the $11.25 per vehicle fee at the gate, but that can be reimbursed if you spend $35 or more at local restaurants.

"It’s beautifully maintained, with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean at almost every turn. If you’re pressed for time, it’s easy to pick a few stops in advance for photos before heading south to Big Sur or north towards San Francisco."

In sticking with the theme of photo worthy spots, McWay Falls comes highly recommended from the influencer. According to Murray, it's an 80-foot waterfall that flows directly into the Pacific Ocean, and it's one of the most photographed locations in all of California.

"The best time to go is late afternoon, when the crowds start to thin out and the fog begins to clear," she says. "This waterfall isn’t swimmable by any means, but it’s absolutely worth stopping by to have a look."

"Pfeiffer Falls is also really special, because it’s surrounded by redwood trees and flora native to California," Murray adds. "The hike there is perfect for all levels, because the trail is paved most of the way and very clearly marked. It only takes about 45 minutes to reach the waterfall."

Murray in Big Sur. Image: Courtesy of subject.

Where to Stay

With such scenic views, you'll want to ensure that your hotel or accommodation has the vibes to match. For Murray, she loves booking a stay with Big Sur Lodge, a one-of-a-kind retreat in the middle of the forest.

"There are cottage-style rooms that have private decks. Guests wake up to views of the redwood trees, and have access to a seasonal outdoor pool. For a luxury travel experience, definitely stay at the Ventana Big Sur," she recommends. "You can go glamping in a tent cabin, or stay in a spacious suite. The rates include an all-inclusive meal plan, so you don’t have to worry about anything except relaxing."

Best spots to dine

The great thing about this area is that there are places to dine, no matter your budget or taste. If you're looking to splurge, Nepenthe Restaurant comes highly rated.

"It’s perched up on a hill overlooking the coastline of Big Sur, with an incredible view of the sunset," Murray explains. "You have to try the Brussels sprouts. They’re literally the best I’ve had anywhere!"

Big Sur River Inn restaurant is also an absolute must. You can take your food to go and eat at one of the picnic chairs they have firmly planted in the river.

"It’s such a relaxing and unique experience!"

Murray at McWay Falls. Image: Courtesy of subject.

Murray's trusted Big Sur packing list

As someone passionate about her skincare, she suggests being equipped with all the essentials to combat the area's dry weather.

"The air in this part of California tends to be really dry. I recommend a multistep routine: follow up your cleanser with a hydrating toner or essence like Fat Water from Fenty Skin, then layer on a serum (one of my favorites for hydration is Filling Good by Farmacy, which has honey extract) and a thick moisturizer like the Squalane + Omega Repair Deep Hydration Moisturizer from Biossance. Lock it in with a sheer sunscreen like Unseen by SuperGoop and pack a face mist to rehydrate if you plan to do some hiking," she says. "For bodycare, I recommend packing shea butter from 54 Thrones (Black-owned) which is small enough to fit in a carry-on bag but packs a big punch."

Check out the products mentioned below:

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Filling Good Serum

Price: $48

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Fat Water toner

Price: $30

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Squalene + Omega Repair Cream

Price: $78

Shop at Biossance
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Unseen Sunscreen

Price: $22

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54 Thrones
Lavendar Mint African Butter

Price: $24

Shop at 54 Thrones