Tips for Driving Highway 1 with a Baby

Driving along Highway 1, through Big Sur and along the stretches of coastline, is one of the most scenic and famous drives in the US.  It's tempting to get out of the car every few miles and explore the views, or hop on a hiking trail.  Every traveler tackles this stretch of road a bit differently, and we did it with an infant.  So, while any type of traveler should feel free to jot down the stops/attractions mentioned below, it may be good to know this article is mostly to help out those "I-can-do-it" parents out there. (Yes, you can)! 

Big Sur drive

If you are attempting to see the views with a baby along for the ride, it’s actually pretty easy.  You may have to adjust your expectations a bit, but I say go for it!  Here’s what to know, and some other tidbits of advice: 

  • Go during nap time and the younger the better: Every baby differs with their nap schedule, and age can be a factor too. We drove Highway 1 when Claire was 4 months old. She was a heavy sleeper then and her nap was 2.5 hours long, giving us plenty of time to cover some ground by car.   


  • Take pictures from the car window:  Given we did the trek during her nap, we couldn’t really hop out and go for a hike. Never wake a sleeping baby, right? Instead, we used the opportunity to cover as much (highway) ground as possible.  There are plenty of areas to pull to the side of the road and snap a quick picture with the window rolled down. However, if you're driving without a sleeping child, I suggest stretching those legs and exploring more on foot.
Big Sur drive
  • 1st Stop- Bixby Bridge.: Chances are this spot will be crowded, but it’s still worth a pull-over (Est time: 40 minutes from our hotel).
Bixby Bridge
  • 2nd stop- Need a snack?: Don’t miss Big Sur Bakery,  Be sure to pick up some of their pumpkin bread and homemade granola.  They offer some more substantial meals too (i.e. sandwiches, salads), which also looked delicious.  I also purchased my favorite tea mugs here!  You can buy them at Sanny Ceramics. Let’s just say that my husband sent me in to get a cookie and I came out with a whole shopping bag! (Est. time: 1 hour from our hotel).



  • 3rd stop-Need a baby friendly hike?  Before leaving your hotel, don’t forget to throw your baby carrier in the car.  We used the Ergo 360 and loved it.  We went for a short (I mean it...short...10 minutes maybe) walk to McWay Falls.  It's one of the most iconic stops along the route.  (Est time: 1 hour 15 minutes from our hotel). Claire was ready to get out of the car and party!



  • 4th stop- Ventana Restaurant for lunch: Ready to head back to the hotel, but need some food? This restaurant has beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, and is on the way back north. We gobbled up a yummy shrimp roll and fries. 
Big Sur drive
  • The trek back: Chances are, if you have followed the above itinerary, your baby is also awake for the drive back, which is about an hour with no stops.  We found creative ways to keep Claire entertained, and used the opportunity to take some photos with her.  


  • Some other (non baby) recommendations: If you are traveling without kids, or with older kids, I would spend more time hiking the various trails on the side of the road, exploring Pfeiffer beach and checking out some of the other hot spots like Nepenthe.   It's also on my wish-list to return for a glamping experience at Glen Oaks or a stay at the Post Ranch Inn.   
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