May 22, 2021 by Lauren Hampton
A Weekend in Big Sur
We’ve been dreaming of iconic stretches along the Amalfi Coast, Maui, and the French Alps. But you don’t have to go too far here in California for one of the most beautiful drives along the Pacific Ocean. You guessed it! PCH → Big Sur!
For Californians, this vacation requires no plane, no passport, and not much else in your suitcase other than a swimsuit and hiking shoes. You may want to bring a sweater to dress up your forest fairy vibe for dinner on the patio at Sierra Mar, and you should probably pack 6 of your favorite white, red, and rose to keep the glow on an even keel.
Are you in? Check out our guide for a weekend in Big Sur below.
We highly recommend taking the scenic route. Taking Pacific Coast Highway or ‘the 1’ from Orange County to Big Sur takes about 6 hours, but boy is it worth it! Turn on some Frank Sinatra, roll the windows down (because you’ll be driving slow and steady anyways), and snap some photos! For about 75% of the drive there’s nothing between you and the ocean. The views are so breathtaking that you completely forget about time.
Hotels and campgrounds are limited and book up fast, especially in the Summer season. We highly recommend booking ahead by a few months or so if possible.
Post Ranch Inn
High atop the cliffs of Big Sur, 1200 feet above the Pacific Ocean, sits Post Ranch Inn, a sanctuary for the soul. Ideal for romance, relaxation or rejuvenation, this Big Sur resort is the ultimate destination for a luxurious escape. The natural architecture embraces the coast’s dramatic beauty and the 40 rooms and private homes blend rustic elegance, comfort and privacy with panoramic ocean or mountain views. Guests can relax by the pools and take in the splendid views; rejuvenate with an in-room massage, spa treatment or yoga class; or explore all that nature has to offer. Picturesque Monterey and Carmel are a short drive away.
Due to Covid, they offer in-room dining and deliver fresh wood-fire pizzas or a whole chicken in a Dutch oven to your room. Yum!
“Tommy and I went to Big Sur for our Honeymoon in October as our Plan B since we got married in the middle of Covid. I have to say this should have been our Plan A! Big Sur in the Fall is perfect if the summer doesn’t work out. We hiked some of the trails that the staff at Post Ranch Inn suggested and got a tip to go to Big Sur River Inn for a post hike drink. You can order a cocktail and then enjoy it while lounging in their adirondack chairs that are sitting IN the river. Take your hiking shoes and socks off, and soak those feet in the water.”
Ventana Campground *or the Glamping Sites @ Ventana Inn
Located approximately 65 miles north of San Simeon and 30 miles south of Carmel, Ventana is an amazing 40 acre redwood canyon. All of the traditional sites follow the existing contour of the canyon and Post Creek without disturbing its natural beauty. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring with water faucets a short walk away. They are centrally located near general stores, restaurants, cafes, gift shops, delis, taverns, and the post office in the Big Sur community. Ventana is a tent-only campground.
It’s the perfect spot to checkout, kickback, relax and sip on some of those special bottles you’ve been holding onto.
The Wine Spectator Grand-Award winning Sierra Mar restaurant at the Post Ranch Inn offers exquisite dining with a menu that changes daily, complimentary daily breakfast and a spectacular setting with endless ocean views.
“I truly had one of my top 5 meals at Sierra Mar. Half of the experience is definitely the views. We got a table the first time we went inside, right in the corner with panoramic views of the ocean below. The whole restaurant has floor to ceiling windows and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. When we went back for our Honeymoon we sat on the patio and that was beautiful as well, but I would suggest getting an early reservation because the experience is 10x better when it’s light outside.”
Breathtaking views with an incredible wine list that is also surprisingly affordable. Nepenthe is the best. They have a fun store below where you can shop local jewelry designers. There is one designer that makes these unique jade earrings, a fun Big Sur keepsake. You can look around while waiting for a table because it can be a bit of a wait (they don’t take reservations). Try to snag one of the bar style seats looking out towards the water. Their menu is the best for your post hike lunch with a chicken sandwich and to the point cheeseburger. They also have this goat cheese plate with crackers and roasted garlic that’s a good starter to get you going!
Excellent breakfast spot! Their Eggs Benedict, homemade granola, smoked salmon bagels and huevos rancheros have earned them the “Best Place for Breakfast” award in Monterey County!
Sea Harvest Fish Market
Camping? Grab some fresh oysters and salmon to cook at your campsite!