For any of you familiar with Big Sur, you’ve probably heard of the iconic Ventana Resort. It’s the epitome of 5 star luxury with stylish rustic decor in the most gorgeous, Big Sur setting. So it only makes sense that Ventana has the best of the best in Big Sur Glamping – glamorous camping . The minute I heard about these luxurious safari style tents at their Redwood Canyon Glampsites, my youngest son and I planned a Ventana Glamping weekend getaway. The idea was a quick trip before college started and it exceeded all expectations!
Getting to Ventana Glamping in Big Sur
Big Sur is located on California Highway 1 between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. If you are flying in, the closest airport is the Monterey Regional Airport (1 hour drive), which has limited flights or San Jose International Airport (2 hour drive). Those that are doing a California Coast Road Trip typically fly into San Francisco International Airport (2.5 hour drive) or Los Angeles International Airport (5.5 hour drive).
Check in starts at the main building of the Ventana Resort. You pull up to the valet and they wisk you up to the uber cool reception living room. The relaxed, fun vibe of the the hotel is welcoming from the second you walk in. From the retro music to the pool table in the adjoining room, this place exudes Big Sur coolness! After check-in, we walked around the resort, then took the 2 minute drive to our California Redwoods home away from home.
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Ventana Big Sur Glamping Campsites
Each glamping campsite has a tent, sink/mirror, patio with Adirondack chairs, ice chest, picnic table, wood fire pit and a propane fire pit that starts with the push of a button. Inside the tent is a queen bed, electric blanket, nightstands, lamps, chargers with USB ports, hot water bottles, and netting that can be zipped up to keep flies out. Also included is a picnic basket with a S’mores kit, cheese board/knife, tablecloth, wine glasses, mugs, and assorted teas. There is an instant hot water tap at the sink to use for the tea and hot water bottles.
It feels a little rustic, in that you know you are in a tent, but this glamping experience is very luxurious! The bathroom is also pretty amazing with heated floors, fluffy towels, and amazing products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash). There’s no roughing it when you’re glamping in Big Sur.
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Dining Options for Ventana Glamping
The SurStream is the outdoor restaurant/bar where you can order a delicious BBQ dinner, drinks or breakfast in the morning. The area, strung with lights has a great atmosphere where other campers and hotel guests gather for dinner around picnic tables.
We took the BBQ dinner back to our own campsite and ate at our picnic table. The views are so beautiful as the light moves through the redwoods sending streams of light in various directions. After dinner there were yummy S’mores to make at our own personal fire pit. How could you go Big Sur glamping and not finish off the evening with S’mores!
For breakfast, the Welcome Tent offers coffee and pastries in the morning. You can also head up to the hotel for a full brunch at the Sur House, which is a restaurant with amazing Pacific Ocean views and a delicious menu.
Fun Things to do near Ventana Big Sur
This was a down time type of getaway. The Ventana Glamping area has hammocks that are perfect for relaxing with a great book. We also had fun playing games, hiking and checking out Big Sur. You get the full camping experience but you get to do it in a way that is so much more luxurious and comfortable. On that note, you can head over to Ventana resort. Enjoy the swimming pool, infinity jacuzzi, Japanese baths, sauna and more.
It’s Glamping (Not Camping) So Enjoy the Ventana Spa Guilt Free!
The hotel offers morning yoga but the bed was so comfy, I happily slept in and missed it. For those that want to keep up with their workouts, there’s a full gym. There are also guided hikes around the property, astrology readings, and even a falconry experience. There is also a full spa with hot stone massages, facials, reflexology, and multiple other treatments.
Stargazing and Astrophotography Right at Ventana Big Sur
One of the coolest things about being in this remote part of the California coast is stargazing. My son shot this amazing photo. It was incredible to see the Milky Way and oodles of constellations. Since the photo is long exposure, you have plenty of time to set the camera and then enjoy the night sky. Make sure to bring a tripod and a jacket because it gets chilly at night. This photo was shot right by Ventana hotel overlooking the Big Sur coastline.
Restaurants & Galleries to Try When Glamping in Big Sur
If you’re a glamper, there’s a good chance you’re not making all your meals at a camp stove. That’s a good thing because there are so many fun places to check out during your time in Big Sur. It’s worth taking a trip to some of the restaurants and galleries in the area.
Nepenthe, a 4 minute drive south of Ventana, is a great place to enjoy a meal. The food is delicious and the views are even better. Seating is first come first served. Request a table on the back patio and check out the Phoenix Shop while you’re waiting. Before or after, visit nearby Hawthorne Gallery. The art is eclectic and interesting and it’s worth a look just to see the actual gallery space itself.
Coast is another great “food with a view, then check out the gallery” place to visit. Since Big Sur doesn’t have an official town, little spots like this fit the bill while retaining that rustic Big Sur coastal vibe. Enjoy a relaxing morning with coffee and pastries or afternoon wine and chesse. Big Sur Roadhouse is also super cute for breakfast for lunch and the food is delish! It’s 4 miles north of Ventana.
Hiking at Big Sur State Parks
As you drive to Big Sur on the Coast Highway, the beautiful views will beckon you get out and explore on foot. Look for the well-marked Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Entrance. It’s about 9 miles south of Ventana Resort on Highway 1. McWay Waterfall Trail gives you a lot of bang for a 1 mile trail with killer Big Sur Coastline views including an 80 foot waterfall. For a more challenging 5.7 mile hike, park in the upper lot for the Ewoldsen Trail.
Make sure you check for trail closures ahead of time here. Also, watch out for poison oak on any hike in the area.
Kayaking in Big Sur
Experienced kayakers and paddlers love the Big Sur area and dramatic coastline beginners should stick to protected coves like Andrew Molera State Park, the Mill Creek Day Use Area, and Sand Dollar Beach. A quick drive to Monterey and Pacific Grove will get you to Paddle Lover’s Point for kayaking and SUP.
We created a guide for inflatable kayaks. They’re the perfect gear to bring on your California coast trip because you’ll be able to use them all over and they are so easy to transport and set up.
Bixby Creek Bridge on the Way to Carmel-By-The-Sea
About halfway between Big Sur and Carmel, you’ll find the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge, shown in the opening sequence of Big Little Lies. Hop out and enjoy the view. I highly recommend a stop in Carmel-by-the-Sea as it’s one of the cutest towns on the California coast and a great place to go for lunch or dinner. If you love art, you’ll find terrific galleries to peruse. It’s also a nice spot to do a little shopping.
Weather & What to Pack for Glamping in Big Sur, California
Big Sur is a great destination year round. The peak season for travel is between April to October but most people don’t realize that California summers are somewhat delayed. At the beginning of summer, you can expect a marine layer in the morning that burns off in the afternoon. We call it June Gloom. If you are looking for full sunshine, plan your trip between July and November.
That said, Ventana Glamping is even great as a cozy Big Sur winter holiday trip. The tents have heaters, heated blankets and hot water bottles. California winters are warmer than summers in some locations. The other nice thing about an off season trip is that the rates are less expensive.
What to Pack in Your Bag for Big Sur Glamping at Ventana
- Make sure you pack hiking shoes or trail runners.
- Bring hiking pants that cover your legs if you are planning to do bigger hikes.
- A bathing suit, sunscreen and flip flops for the beach, pool or jacuzzi.
- You will need a jacket or sweater for the evenings. If you are going in the winter, bring a bigger, warmer jacket.
- For entertainment, a great novel, a deck of cards or some fun games. Ventana also has a bunch of games near the SurStream restaurant.
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Final Thoughts About Ventana Glamping in Big Sur
Our weekend glamping at Ventana Big Sur was awesome! We had the best time and highly recommend it. The one question everyone asked me is if there were bugs. I am a tasty treat to any type of biting bug and I didn’t get one bite the whole time. There are little flies at dusk that are easily kept at bay with the provided citronella candle and fire pit. There is also zip-up netting on the tent that completely keeps any flies out.
If you’re doing a California Coast road trip or want to get away for the weekend, Ventana Glamping in Big Sur is a bucket list experience that is definitely worth the trip! It’s adventure travel in a luxurious way, that’s the best of California glamping. When you drive down the coast towards Los Angeles, check out the 13 Prettiest Beaches in Southern California and Fun Things to do in Manhattan Beach. For another amazing weekend trip in California, try Joshua Tree.
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