If you want to stay inside one of the parks but tents just aren’t your style, book a cabin at the Big Sur Lodge (47225 Hwy. 1, 800/424-4787, www.bigsurlodge.com , $199–289) in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The lodge was built in the 1930s as a Government Works project to create jobs for people suffering in the Great Depression—by then Big Sur ’s astounding beauty and peace had been recognized by both federal and state governments, and much of the land was protected as parks for the enjoyment of the populace.
Though the amenities have been updated, the cabins of Big Sur Lodge still evoke the classic woodsy vacation cabin. Set in the redwood forest along an array of paths and small roads, the cabins feature patchwork quilts, rustic furniture, understated decor, and simple but clean bathrooms.
Many cabins have lots of beds—perfect for larger families or groups of adults traveling together. The largest cabins have fireplaces and kitchens. You can stock your kitchen at the on-site grocery store, or just get a meal at the lodge’s restaurant or café.
The lodge has a swimming pool for those rare sunny summer days in the Big Sur  forest. But the real attraction is its right-outside-your-door access to the Pfeiffer Big Sur trails . You can just leave your car outside your room and hike the day away inside the park. Or take a short drive to one of the other state parks and enjoy their charms for free with proof of occupancy at Big Sur Lodge.
Despite the forbidding name, Ragged Point Inn (19019 Hwy. 1, 805/927-4502, http://raggedpointinn.net , $200–300) takes advantage of its location to create an anything-but-ragged hotel experience for its guests. If you’ve come to Big Sur  to bask in the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean, this is your hotel. The Ragged Point Inn perches on one of Big Sur’s famous cliffs, offering stellar views from the purpose-built glass walls and private balconies or patios of almost every room in the house.
Budget-friendly rooms still have plenty of space, a comfy king or two double beds, and those unreal ocean views. If you’ve got a bit more cash to burn, go for a luxury room, with optimal views, soaring interior spaces, plush amenities, and romantic two-person spa bathtubs.
Outside your room, enjoy a meal in the full-service restaurant or get picnic supplies from the snack bar or the mini-mart, fill up for a day trip at the on-site gas station, or peruse the works of local artists in the gift shop or jewelry gallery.
A special treat is the hotel’s own hiking trail, which makes a 400-foot drop past a waterfall to Ragged Point’s private beach.