Tons of freebies -- free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free nature walks and yoga classes, and free afternoon reception
Daily resort fee to cover the so-called "freebies"
Clothing-optional pool may not be to everyone's taste
Overall, resort is not family-friendly
Situated on more than 200 acres of picturesque oceanfront land, The Ventana Inn & Spa looks like a rustic cabin nestled in the woods -- yet it features 62 luxurious, streamlined rooms with wooden accents, refreshing pops of color, and modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Many rooms have fireplaces, creating a cozy retreat vibe to fit with its surroundings -- though glass doors and large windows keep the rooms feeling bright and airy. Not a place for families, the overall goal of the hotel is to create a zen, holistic retreat with such offerings as yoga classes, discovery walks; afternoon wine and cheese, Japanese baths, and two pools (one of which is clothing optional). But access to these "freebies" aren't technically free -- they're included in the daily resort fee.
One of the most stunning places in the world, Big Sur is defined by redwood forests and craggy cliffs plummeting into the Pacific Ocean. With beautiful landscapes and natural thermal springs, Big Sur is a place that encourages soul searching, and there are numerous hippie camps, spas, and spiritual retreats in the area to do just that. But Big Sur is not just for sitting back and putting your feet up. In fact, it's an active person's dream: Most of the area is composed of parks with more than 237 miles of hiking trails along the coast.
Big Sur's economy is based on tourism, and therefore there are numerous shops, galleries, and restaurants in the area catering to visitors. Getting around is mostly done along Highway 1, arguably the most scenic route in California, but occasional mudslides can close it down.
2-hour and 30-minute drive to San Jose International Airport
3-hour drive to San Francisco International Airport
5-minute drive to Big Sur Village
5-minute drive to Point Sur Lighthouse (plus a steep half-mile hike)
5-minute drive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, home to a waterfall and coastal hikes
5-minute drive to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park's redwood trails
10-minute drive to Pfeiffer Beach
20-minute drive to Bixby Bridge, one of the highest single span bridges in the world with spectacular views
40-minute drive to Point Lobos State Reserve, popular among sea lions and seals
40-minute drive to Kirk Creek Campground, with beach access
50-minute drive to Carmel
50-minute drive to Jade Cove
1-hour drive to Monterey
1-hour drive to the Henry Miller Library, home to the artist/writer's archives and a sculpture garden, and host to musical performances
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