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Natalie Borton

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NATALIE

I am a believer in owning your personal style, saying what you mean, asking for what you want, living authentically and the power of simplicity — in fashion, and in life.

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What I Packed for 2 Days in Northern California

Plus the outfits I put together!

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 usually do, though we have definitely taken the drive as well. 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 if we’ve flown, we’ve either rented a car, or had an Uber take us to our hotel. 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.

WHERE WE STAY

We’ve stated at Ventana and Post Ranch Inn, and while both are so incredible, we do prefer Post Ranch Inn. It’s definitely not a “budget” vacation, but they really do make sure your trip is worthwhile, have the BEST views, and they have top notch service and kindest staff. 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 both resorts are only for adults 18 and over.

NOTE: If you’re looking for a more affordable getaway, definitely look at AirBnb. I recently learned about the Big Sur Blue Cottage. Worth checking out for sure!

You can see all of the complimentary Post Ranch Inn 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’ve often not rented a car when we’ve 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 — like driving to and from dinner at Ventana, which is just across the street.

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 enjoy a glass of bubbly from the lobby when we arrive. A simple thing that really starts your vacation off on the right foot.

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, Nepenthe and The Sur House at Ventana. Ventana has great food and gorgeous views if the weather is nice. They have a big deck with an ocean view and their food is spectacular. For a more casual lunch with a view, Nepenthe is a great choice. And for a cozy, quaint vibe definitely try Big Sur Bakery.

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. 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 before and while we haven’t gone to the spa in person yet, we do plan to check it out soon (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!

My Guide to Big Sur

Read the Comments +

  1. Ken Riding says:

    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!

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Hi, I'm Natalie

I am a believer in owning your personal style, saying what you mean, asking for what you want, living authentically and the power of simplicity — in fashion, and in life.

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