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How to Live on the Big Sur Edge, Fabulously

A user's guide. 


Ventana Big Sur

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Ventana Big Sur

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Ventana Big Sur

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Falconry at Big Sur

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The Sur House

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Read more about Big Sur here.

Stay: Ventana Big Sur is known for its luxe accommodations, and following a recent ownership change (Alila Hotels and Resorts took over Ventana from Joie de Vivre in 2017), S.F.’s BraytonHughes Design Studios was tasked with refreshing the guest rooms and public spaces. A night at the adults-only resort runs from $675 to $2,950. Redwood Canyon Glampsites, located on the property just down the hill from the resort, start at $325 per night and are family-friendly. If you have your own gear, you can also book a standard campsite for under $100.

Do: The new Alila Experience Program at Ventana offers everything from drum circles to falconing to photography workshops and can be arranged for groups or individuals. Prices start at $100.

Eat: The Sur House at Ventana offers dining with killer views. At dinner, go à la carte or opt for the four-course tasting menu, with ingredients sourced from local fishermen, foragers, and the onsite gardens—and be sure to sip on something from the 10,000-bottle cellar of small-production Central Coast wines. The famed Big Sur Bakery is just a few minutes up the road and a must-visit, either for morning pastries and coffee or for the exceptional dinner service.

Chill: Ventana offers two outdoor pools—one of them clothing optional—with adjacent Japanese hot baths. Spa guests can opt for a soak and massage in one of the shaded cabanas overlooking the forest. For a distinctly Big Sur experience, sign up online for the public night bathing sessions at the neighboring Esalen Institute. For $30, you can soak in the cliffside hot springs from 1 to 3 a.m.

Getting there: It’s a straight shot down Highway 1 from San Francisco—well, straight may not be the right word. Stop in Pescadero for a still-warm loaf of garlicherb artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery.

Read more about Big Sur here.


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco

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