K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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The Big Sur Coast stretches from Carmel in the north to San Simeon in the south, with a number of enticing towns, including Big Sur, along the way. The drive along Highway One alone is worth the trip with the dramatic cliffs on one side and endless views of the Pacific on the other, but this is a place you’ll want to stick around for a while. Big Sur offers access to memorable outdoor adventures, where you can hike scenic trails through the redwoods, search for gems like jade and be mesmerized by waterfalls. There are a number of fine dining restaurants where you can enjoy a gourmet meal along with a spectacular ocean view, as well as some fabulous hotels for which to base your stay, including these.
Post Ranch Inn is an adults’ only hotel that is often named among the best in California. It’s tucked on to the edge of the cliffs in Big Sur, set high up on a ridge to provide dazzling views of the Pacific Ocean. If you book the Pacific Suite, no matter where you are in the room, you’ll be exposed to the ocean, but unseen by other guests. Even the luxurious tiled bath large enough for two offers a breathtaking vista, while the floor-to-ceiling window can be opened to let in a gentle breeze and the pleasant scent of the salty sea air. Mountain House rooms provide views of the Santa Lucia mountain peaks from the bath, terrace and bed. There are no TVs or alarm clocks for a more tranquil atmosphere, but you can look forward to relaxing in the award-winning spa, dining at the exclusive Sierra Mar, swimming in the clifftop pools and outstanding stargazing.
Located roughly 30 miles south of Big Sur village, where the towering Santa Lucia Mountains are on one side and steep cliffs edged by crashing waves are on the other, Treebones Resort is an ideal place to connect with nature and enjoy plenty of luxuries. Choose from cliff-side yurts or the unique Human Nest and Twig Hut, an unusual piece of wood-art created and built by a local artist for overnight stays. You’ll be able to listen to the sounds of barking sea lions and owls at night in comfort and look forward to fabulous farm-to-table cuisine too. Nearby you can enjoy searching for treasures like jade along the shore and popular places like Sand Dollar Beach, Mill Creek, Willow Beach, Lime Kiln State Park and Pfeiffer Beach State Park, renowned for its gorgeous stretches of purple-hued sands.
Ventana Big Sur has gone through a number of rebrandings and renovations since opening in 1975, yet it manages to retain its soulful vibe, set among redwood and oak trees. There are a wealth of amenities, including a spa with outdoor hot tubs, the Meadow swimming pool surrounded with day beds and the Mountain Pool for those who prefer clothing optional. The 1960s lodge-style Social House offers complimentary wine, billiards and vinyl records you can spend, while the signature restaurant, Sur House, serves an impressive menu that includes locally-sourced dishes with many ingredients plucked the property’s organic garden. The endless ocean views from the landscaped dining terrace is just one of the property’s many standout features.
Located across 500 acres along the Big Sur Coast in Carmel, Carmel Valley Ranch is a bit like a summer camp-inspired resort. There are treetop suites, indoor and outdoor guest suites, multiple swimming pools and an infinity hot tub, all ideal for leaving stress behind. The property also has its own four-acre vineyard and a lavish spa for enhancing health and wellness. When it comes to activities, you’ll be spoiled with choice with everything from kite building, yoga and tennis to archery, group hikes and beekeeping classes. There’s so much to do here, you may never want to leave, but the picturesque town of Carmel is well-worth a visit for its fine dining, art galleries and beaches.
The Cavalier Oceanfront Resort is an ideal option for a couples’ escape, located right along the Pacific at the south end of the Big Sur Coast in San Simeon. You’ll be perfectly situated not only for enjoying Big Sur but also the famous Hearst castle, popular beaches like Morro Bay and Pismo Beach as well as Paso Robles wine country. The resort has 90 oceanfront and ocean view rooms, two heated outdoor ocean view swimming pools, a hot tub and day spa. Pets are even welcome too.
Located in one of California’s most alluring beach towns, with its romantic eateries, upscale shops, and multiple wine tasting venues, the L’Auberge Carmel offers the ultimate getaway at the north end of the Big Sur Coast. A European inn, it’s renowned for its exceptional service and luxurious accommodations. All rooms offer high-end perks like heated floors, deep soaking tubs, and antique furnishings and decor. When it comes to dining, guests can look forward to a sumptuous complimentary breakfast, while the Aubergine restaurant offers tasting menu dinners that are well-worth the splurge.
Part of Pebble Beach Resorts, The Inn at Spanish Bay is an ultra-luxurious resort catering primarily to avid golfers and well-heeled travelers. Many of its spacious rooms face the Pacific, and some boast balconies, fireplaces and Italian marble baths and balconies. It hosts a wealth of dining options that can be enjoyed throughout the Pebble Beach complex, like Roy’s and Pèppoli, two of the most popular. Guests can also enjoy strolling the seaside boardwalk, relaxing by the fire pits and listening to the sounds of the inn’s famous bagpiper.
Hyatt Residence Club Carmel Highlands Inn is a cliff-side hotel in Carmel that offers arguably the very best views on the Big Sur Coast and possibly the entire state. Rooms are extra roomy and come with jaw-dropping ocean views. Most come with working fireplaces and are also stocked with a wide variety of modern amenities. The on-site restaurant serves meals that are just as impressive as the scenery, while the outdoor fire pit offers a perfect place to relax and unwind after a day out paddling (kayak rentals are on site).