My Guide to Big Sur

Even though we only had 48 hours there, we’re still on Cloud 9 after our trip to Big Sur this past week. It’s truly our favorite place, so full of beauty and nature that gently invites you into a slower pace. 

Today’s post is for anyone who is thinking about taking a kid-free trip to Big Sur, specifically a luxe getaway as a couple or with dear friends. It’s intended to be an easy post to reference if you’re looking to have a similar trip to ours and I hope that by sharing all of this I can make it easier for you to make your own journey out to Big Sur and experience the beauty for yourself. Just to be clear since I know it’s not always easy to tell with bloggers, this trip is in no way sponsored (though we wish it was, haha) and we pay for everything ourselves. 

Here’s how we like to do Big Sur…

HOW WE GET THERE

The easiest way to access Big Sur if you don’t live super close is to fly into Monterey, which is what we do. While we could definitely drive there from San Diego, it would take up a whole day each way and we decided that’s just too much time when we only have 2 nights away from the kids. If you’re flying in from somewhere that doesn’t go to Monterey, San Jose would be the next closest spot to fly into. From Monterey, we just have an Uber take us to our hotel since we don’t need a rental car (more on that below). Then to get back to the airport when we’re checked out, we just arrange for a car to pick us up (Uber doesn’t operate in Big Sur). Post Ranch Inn—where we stay when we visit — has a car service they recommend that we’ve used and had a good experience with, but this time we just had our same Uber driver come pick us up and it was less expensive and easier.

WHERE WE STAY

After a bit of research, we decided to stay at Post Ranch Inn for our first visit last year, and it just blew us away so completely that we feel loyal for life. It’s definitely not a “budget” vacation, but they really do make sure your trip is worthwhile. Both times we’ve gone, we’ve booked a Cliff House and ended up in the L&B Post room, which we’re obsessed with, but truly every room they have has its own beauty and charm and I don’t think you could go wrong no matter what you choose. It’s also worth noting that this resort is only for adults 18 and over — while we love our kids, it’s really nice to be around only grown-ups during a kid-free getaway!

You can see all of the complimentary offerings here, but these are some of our favorite perks that are included with every stay:

Gourmet breakfast buffet every morning. This is a far cry from the complimentary breakfast at literally any other hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Not only is there a huge spread of a wide variety of perfectly prepared foods, but also the restaurant (Sierra Mar) is literally built into the side of a cliff so you have endless ocean views from every angle. It’s unreal. Breakfast is served from 8am-10:30am and is for resort guests only. They switch up exactly what they have in the buffet each morning and seasonally, but here’s a list of some of the things they’ve had in a single morning during our stay:

  • Freshly made green juice and orange juice
  • House made breads and granola
  • Smoked salmon and bagels
  • Yogurt, chia seed pudding and fresh fruit for toppings
  • Bacon (or sausage)
  • French toast (or pancakes)
  • An assortment of fresh baked pastries
  • Eggs Benedict (or frittata)
  • Coffee and tea
  • And if you want them to make you eggs a special way or you’re in the mood for an espresso-based beverage, just ask and they’ll make you one.

Lexus cars and SUVs to borrow for daytime exploring. This is why we don’t rent a car when we stay at Post Ranch Inn. You just let the front desk know you want to borrow a car so they can reserve it for you, fill out a form with your license number on it, and then you’re free to explore. It’s seriously such a perk of staying at Post Ranch Inn and makes it easy to get out and see things without having to spend money on a rental car for your stay. The Post Ranch Inn staff also offer rides to select nearby spots — last year they drove us to and picked us up from our dinner at Ventana and it was nice to be able to enjoy our drinks at dinner and know we had a safe ride back.

Snacks and drinks in your room. Most hotels make you pay for anything you take, but the stuff in your mini fridge is included in your stay at Post Ranch Inn. Our room had a mix of non-alcoholic drinks, beer, a half bottle of Chardonnay, mixed nuts, cheese and crackers, dried fruit and a few other snacks. Also in our room was a half bottle of Pinot Noir, fresh fruit, and chocolate chip cookies. We were able to make a whole cheese board lunch from the complimentary items in our room. And for the mornings, they have a Nespresso machine as well as a variety of tea. I don’t know if every room has the exact same food/drink items in it, but this was what was in our room for both of the visits we’ve made to Post Ranch Inn.

Wine in the lobby. We definitely grabbed a glass of bubbly from the lobby before heading to the soaking pool. It seems like a small thing, but when a glass of wine can be $30 each, it adds up quickly and we fully embraced the complimentary bubbles to enjoy while we took in the view.

WHERE WE EAT

BREAKFAST: We eat every breakfast at Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn since it’s included in our stay and there just isn’t a better breakfast we could imagine. 

LUNCH: For lunch, we’ve done Big Sur Bakery and The Sur House at Ventana and I highly recommend Ventana if the weather is nice. They have a big, gorgeous deck with an ocean view and their food is spectacular. Big Sur Bakery is cute and quaint and if we stayed in the area longer it would be a good lunch spot, but if you’re only there for a couple days like we were I’d say it’s not necessarily worth a trip there unless you are looking for more of a quaint cafe lunch versus a lunch with a view. 

DINNER: For dinner, we’ve stayed close and really only done The Sur House at Ventana and Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn. Both of them have amazing chefs and some of the best food we’ve ever had — you can’t go wrong with either. Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn has two different options for dinner: a pre fixe menu that’s a really delightful culinary adventure, or a “ranch dinner” that’s more of a comfort-food feel. We’ve done both and think it’s worth trying both of them, but the “ranch dinner” was honestly our favorite! The only thing with that is you need to be sure to call ahead earlier in the day and place your order a few hours before dinner so they have time to prep everything for you. Also worth noting, the ranch dinner is less expensive than the pre fixe menu and includes WAY more food.

WHAT WE DO

We admittedly spent a ton of time at Post Ranch Inn because it’s just so gorgeous. We loved exploring the trails on the property, and we make a daily — if not twice-daily — trip to the heated infinity pools (basically hot tubs). We’ve also gotten in-room massages both times we’ve stayed there (more details on their spa services here). As far as exploring off property, we have SO MUCH more to see and do each time we go back here, but so far these have been our favorite spots:

I hope this posts helps answer your questions — please feel free to comment below with any others you have!

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2 Comments

  1. 1.31.21
    Ken Riding said:

    If you are an art aficionado you must visit Hawthorne Gallery just south of Post Ranch Inn. It may be the best contemporary art gallery in California with local artists as well as from all around the country. The owner is Gregg Hawthorne, a very accomplished artist in painting, metal work such as dining furniture, sculptures and ceramics.Try it next time!