Snapshots from Big Sur

Welcome back to a new week, friends! I hope your weekend was fun and relaxing. We actually got to see Mr. College for a few hours Sunday, and it did me good to hug his neck!

He calls and FaceTimes a lot more frequently now that he’s been away for awhile (as opposed to his freshman year when we rarely heard from him!), and that makes it so much easier. I must be getting better at this, because life feels normal with him gone! Plus, he’s just so dang happy being back on campus and face-to-face with professors!

We’re headed up there next month for family weekend and a football game, and I’m so excited to see him back in his element! But today I’m sharing snapshots of our fun weekend in stunning Big Sur!

Majestic is the truly the best word to describe that part of the country. Big Sur is a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon, bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the west by the Pacific Ocean.

The two-lane Pacific Coast Highway is the only road leading in or out, and it’s full of winding turns, seaside cliffs, and jaw-dropping views of the often-misty coastline. The sparsely populated region has numerous state parks for hiking and camping, along with a handful of restaurants and hotels.

Mr. Sugarplum and I flew in to San Jose, then drove a few hours down the coast to meet our friends, Val and Suzie, for a few nights camping in Plaskett Creek Campground in Los Padres National Forest. The park has since been closed due to nearby fires, so we feel especially grateful for the chance to experience it together.

on me: Sports Bra Tank | Cropped Leggings | Waterproof Hiking Sneakers | Sweatshirt | Hat | Sunglasses

You know Backcountry is our go-to spot for all things outdoor, so of course I raided the site for hiking and camping gear before we left. I called one of their knowledgable gearheads, and they directed me to the best gear based on where we were going, our planned activities, and the weather. It’s an unbelievable free service, and it’s so reassuring knowing you’re properly prepared!

My favorite new purchase is hands-down these hiking shoes! I knew we’d be hiking river beds and forests, so I wanted something that works on both water and rocky trails. I’ve worn Adidas Terrex for years, so I knew they’d be comfortable, but I was thrilled with how lightweight and cool they felt. Plus, the tread gave me great grip on all surfaces, and they dried quickly!

Fit Tip: They run large, even for Adidas. I needed to size down a full size. I wore them without socks and had no break-in time, and they felt like shoes I’ve owned for years. The price is great, too.

Sports Bra Tank | Cropped Leggings | Waterproof Hiking Sneakers | Backpack | Hat | Sunglasses | Water Bottle

Val and Suzie brought their friends, and we all instantly clicked! It felt like we’d been lifelong friends. Plus, camping in a group means you get to spread out the tasks, ha!

Similar X-Man Tent | 2-Man Tent

I think Mr. SP could live full-time completely off the grid, so he was living his best life! (Cell service and internet is spotty in Big Sur, at best.)1 Camping was one of our favorite things to do together when we lived in Nashville, so it was so fun to reconnect in nature again.

T-Shirt | Hat (similar) | Hiking Shoes | Sleeping Pads | Sleeping Bags | Tent | Compression Dry SacksSunglasses

Quilted Puffer Jacket | Packable Quilted Jacket

Big Sur is chock-full of trails, with something for everyone. We did everything from river beds to forest trails to beach walks. The weather changes dramatically throughout the day, with cool fog and mist rolling in unexpectedly, so layers are essential.

Sports Bra Tank | Cropped Leggings | Waterproof Hiking Sneakers | Sweatshirt | Hat

Quarter Zip Pullover | Quick-Dry Shorts | Backpack | Hat | Sunglasses | Water Bottle

Hiking Shoes | Quick-Dry Shorts (similar) | Dri-Fit leggings

Fortunately our friends drove in from Los Angeles, so they were able to pack their cars with the big gear and fun stuff. We flew with our own tent, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags. Oh, and these little lanterns which were so handy for everything from late-night walks to the bathroom to illuminating the tent.

Beanie | Packable Quilted Jacket | Camping Chair (similar) | Slide Sandals (similar)

Quarter Zip Pullover | Quick-Dry Shorts | Waterproof Hiking Sneakers | Sunglasses

We may have been roughing it with no showers or hot water, but there was no way Suzie would let me have crazy brows!

Fleece Pullover | Sunglasses | Water Bottle

Quarter Zip Pullover | Quick-Dry Shorts | Waterproof Hiking Sneakers | Sunglasses

Quarter Zip Pullover | T-Shirt | Sunglasses

A Few Big Sur Must Visit Spots //

  • Ventana and Post Ranch Inn are incredible 5-star hotels perched in the cliffs, and as evidenced by their astronomical room rates! At the very least, cruise through to check them out. Ventana offers amazing glamping sites, too, but they book up months in advance.
  • The Bixby Creek Bridge is an architectural wonder, and really gorgeous to stop and see on your drive in to Big Sur (from the north).
  • Julia Pfeiffer Beach is a stunning little cove that looks straight out of a movie scene, but parking spots are limited, so you may have to wait.
  • Big Sur River Inn is a great lunch spot and small grocery. They’ll pack your lunch in a little cooler, perfect for eating on their large patio or in adirondack chairs in the river!
  • Nepenthe is famous for its views, and perfect for lunch or a sunset dinner. It’s pricey though, so I’d skip it if it’s a foggy day.

Organic Cotton Quilted Pullover | Fleece Pullover


It was a beautiful couple of days with some incredible friends, and we felt so lucky for the time together in such a beautiful place! My heart goes out to the people that live in areas impacted by the wildfires, and the first responders working tirelessly to keep them safe. Once the area opens, I highly recommend a visit to Big Sur…it’s truly one of the most stunning areas in the entire United States!

And of course head to Backcountry for all your gear before heading out for any outdoor adventure this season! And don’t forget, first time Backcountry shoppers can use code SUGARPLUM15 to save 15% off full-priced items on your first purchase (some exclusions apply)! Not only do they have everything you need for your outdoor adventures this season, but the pieces to keep you stylish, too!

So tell me… have you been to Big Sur? Were you lucky enough to stay at Ventana or Big Sur before the rates skyrocketed?! I’d definitely rank Big Sur as Top 2 most gorgeous places in the United States. What place tops your list?



*This post is created in collaboration with Backcountry and ShopStyle, but all product selections, opinions, and dirty French braids are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*

Leave a Comment


  1. Kathy wrote:

    When I was in middle school, my family camped in Los Padres National Forest and had a blast! We lived in the Monterey area when my dad was stationed at Fort Ord from 1976 – 1980, and I still vividly remember all of the beautiful places we visited while living in California!

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Oh wow, Monterey is beautiful!! That must have been so incredible! xo. C

      Posted 9.13.21 Reply
  2. Mary V wrote:

    Love! I live in the Bay area, so we are lucky Big Sur is a quick trip for us. Looks like such a fun getaway, and I love to camp as well, so its fun to learn about new spots to check out! Thanks for sharing your adventure and tips!

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      What a gorgeous area to live, Mary! Mr. SP is from the Bay Area too, so he loves any chance to get back! xo. C

      Posted 9.13.21 Reply
  3. Sandy wrote:

    Oh, that shot of you, color-matching the waves in your quarter-zip pullover. Awesome portrait!
    We’ve had whole beaches to ourselves along that coast-pure magic.
    I am so w/Mr. SP on living off the grid! Love reading about others doing it. Probably less romantic than reality tho!
    And sorry, I cannot share out special places. They would not be special if I did, ha,ha. Instagram has done enough damage out there, : ( .
    Thank you for all of this!

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Hahaha, I get it!! There are a few places we love that have become overrun! But I tell myself it’s great others get to enjoy it, too! 😉

      Posted 9.13.21 Reply
      • Sandy wrote:

        Somehow, I can’t see you and the Mr. living off the grid, (get a generator! ha,ha.) out somewhere, reusing gray water to keep the food crops going, and fermenting veggies.
        But Mr. SP might get into it! A tree house, some geese, and an acre of land! : )
        (Geese make great watch dogs.)

        Posted 9.13.21 Reply
        • Cassie wrote:

          Haha, that’s not a life for me! 😉

          Posted 9.14.21 Reply
  4. Cindi Kinsey wrote:

    I don’t think I knew anything about Big Sur! Great pictures and narrative. Now I want to go! Mr. Sugarplum truly looks like a “happy camper” and in his element. Glad you FINALLY made the trip. Good friends and making new friends just makes everything better, doesn’t it?

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      It really is one of the most gorgeous areas in our country!! Add it to your list, for sure! xo. C

      Posted 9.14.21 Reply
  5. Addison wrote:

    This trip looks absolutely stunning!!! You need to come check out the Maine coast. I love living here and it’s beautiful!

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      I would LOVE to go to the Northeast!! It’s def on my list! xo. C

      Posted 9.14.21 Reply
  6. Casey wrote:

    I lived in Monterey for a decade and did tons of day trips and simple overnights to Big Sur. It was fun to soak in the hot tubs at Escalen Spa or grab some charcuterie from Rocky Point Restaurant. Going to Post Ranch Inn for dinner was a major splurge for special occasions!

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
  7. Jessica Shobe wrote:

    Gorgeous pictures! So glad you got away and has so much fun!

    Posted 9.13.21 Reply
  8. Cindy wrote:

    We just took a family trip trip there in June! We luckily had perfect weather, ate at Nepenthe! We took two weeks from San Francisco to San Diego and all wish we had spent more time in Big Sur- it’s so beautiful!

    Posted 9.17.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Now that sounds like a truly magical trip!!! Isn’t Big Sur incredible?! xo, C

      Posted 9.19.21 Reply
  9. Keira wrote:

    I live in NorCal and haven’t been back to Big Sur in a (too) long time. I have camped and stayed at the uber-hygglig Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, which thanfully has reopened. A Nepenthe family member owns and operates The Cook & Her Farmer in Downtown Oakland which has tremendous food.

    Posted 9.19.21 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Ugh Keira, I wish we could go back!!!!

      Posted 9.19.21 Reply