Big Sur is a captivating coastal drive that extends from Monterey/Carmel, south to about Ragged Point. It is extremely popular year round, although the rainy winter months can be a challenge when a big Pacific storm rolls in and lingers. As beautiful as the area is, services are rather limited. There are several gas stations, restaurants and lodging options, the latter are typically booked well in advance and are expensive, so last-minute overnight road trips may not be a good idea. Cell coverage is spotty throughout the area and practically non-existent between MM 45 and MM 59 near San Simeon.
I highly recommend California Photoscout as the single best blog for photographers visiting the area. It’s packed with information on the various locations in Big Sur and elsewhere in California.
My Google Map: Big Sur and the Central Coast
Monterey and Carmel are very popular tourist destinations. Everyone should drive the 17-Mile Drive once, but once will probably do it.
For photographers, the Lone Cypress at sunset is very popular. However, it’s also very popular with everyone else. Given the limited parking, I recommend you get there an hour before sunset, especially if you plan on using a tripod. People are polite and cooperative with each other, but don’t be surprised if a bus unloads passengers just when you’re about to shoot. (And, don’t be surprised if foreign tourists ask you to take their photos with their camera. Be gracious–it’s fun to help them out.)