Along Highway 1 in the town of Big Sur , you’ll find a couple of small motels. One of the more popular of these is the Fernwood Resort (Hwy. 1, 831/667-2422, www.fernwoodbigsur.com , $110). The low sprawl of buildings includes a 12-room motel, a small grocery-cum-convenience store, a restaurant, and a tavern that passes for the local nighttime hot-spot. Farther down the small road, you’ll find the campgrounds, which include a number of tent cabins as well as tent and RV sites. If all this a “resort” makes, so be it.
Your motel room will be a modest space in a blocky, one-level building off to the side of the main store and restaurant buildings. Not too much sunlight gets into the guest rooms, but the decor is light-colored and reasonably attractive. Rooms have queen beds and attached private bathrooms, but no TVs.
If you tend to get chilly in the winter (or the summer fog), ask for a room with a gas stove. One room has a two-person hot tub sitting just outside on the back deck. In the summertime, book in advance to be sure of getting a room, especially on weekends.
Another lodge-style motel set in the redwood forest, the Big Sur River Inn (Hwy. 1 at Pheneger Creek, 800/548-3610, www.bigsurriverinn.com , $125–150) sits in one of the “populated” parts of Big Sur . First opened in the 1930s by a member of the legendary Pfeiffer family, the inn has been in continuous operation ever since. Today, it boasts 20 motel rooms, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
Guest rooms are small but comfortable, with a juxtaposition of chain-motel comforters and curtains with rustic lodge-style wooden interior paneling. Budget-conscious rooms have one queen bed. Families and small groups can choose between standard rooms with two queen beds and two-room suites with multiple beds and attractive back decks that look out over the Big Sur River.
All guests can enjoy the attractively landscaped outdoor pool with its surrounding lawn leading down to the river. The attached restaurant offers three meals a day. Be sure to make reservations in advance for summertime weekends!