Travel To Go | Been There, Do This: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, California

Been There, Do This: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, California

By: Michelle Juergen


It looks like a scene from a movie: Calm, turquoise waters rolling gently into a small, sandy cove; a waterfall flowing over a tree-lined cliff; and expansive ocean views beyond the craggy rocks jutting out of the sea. This could easily be the set of the iconic scene in “From Here to Eternity” where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr share a steamy kiss on the beach.

Instead, it’s Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, located along the stunning stretch of Pacific coastline that is Big Sur, Calif., and it’s an equally romantic place to steal a smooch or two — though lovebirds must do so from the Overlook Trail, as the beach is closed to public access (and to passionate romps in the waves). One of the biggest draws of the state park is the 80-foot McWay Falls, which runs year-round and emits a soft burbling sound as it flows onto the sand.

When I visited this winter, the cypress and pine trees dotting the granite cliffside were a deep, rich green from the recent heavy rains, making the already enchanted forest look like it had been draped with a velvet blanket. The leaves on the ancient redwood groves were a bright lime green — practically glowing — from the rainfall, and the cove’s waters glimmered with the blue hues of more tropical destinations.

Perhaps it was the cinematic reminder of a surf-soaked embrace, but I felt a little breathless, unsure in which direction to look first to take it all in. So, I started down the trail, walking unhurriedly, soaking in every sound, smell and color, and bewitched by every sight.

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