Camping in luxury? It can be done and Glamping in Big Sur is some of the most luxurious camping you'll ever experience.
We arrived just before sunset at Ventana’s Redwood and Canyon Glampsites located off California's fabled Highway 1. The Big Sur Coast Highway is the ultimate drive in California and staying at Ventana offers a central location to explore all the major sites.
It is here you'll see the iconic stops like Morro Bay, McWay Falls and the Bixby Bridge. Bixby Bridge was made even more famous by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon's hit show Big Little Lies where it is a prominent set piece whenever they take a drive.
Glamping in Big Sur – Ventana Redwood and Canyon Glampsites
Usually when you pull into a campground, you are given a number and map then left to find your own way. But Ventana already takes camping to a new level the minute you arrive.
We gave our names to the park ranger where he directed us to drive to the first canvas tent where a representative greeted us with a smile and escorted us to our lodging in her high-powered golf cart.
What is Glamping and Who is it For?
Dave and I have had a few glamping experiences in our day and we say it is the perfect introduction for people looking to “up the adventure” in their lives, but aren't quite ready to go it alone.
It's also for people like us who love an outdoor adventure, but we aren't in our twenties anymore. We look forward to sleeping on a comfy bed without having to tear down our gear each day.
Glamping gives you a taste of the outdoors in style.
Ventana has thought of everything, with heated beds and blankets, fire pits – both wood and gas, running hot and cold water and both electric lights and rechargeable battery operated lanterns.
We didn't need a thing. They even had a S'mores kit sitting on our bed waiting for us to devour once we returned from our day of adventures.
Stops Near Ventana Glamping and Campsites
It was close to sunset when we arrived, so we thanked our host and rushed out to witness the sun go down over the famous rocks of Pfeiffer Beach. It is one of the most photographed locations on Big Sur and it's a mere 5 minute drive from the Ventana Resort.
The pull of from Highway 1 is close to the resort, but it's still another 10 minute drive down a narrow and bumpy road to get to the beach. This makes Pfeiffer Beach one of the best stops on the Big Sur drive as less people crowd the scene compared to the other iconic stops along the highway. We shared our view with less than a dozen people.
Read about our full itinerary at – California Road Trip – The Ultimate 2 Week Itinerary
Some people set up blankets to watch the fiery display, some walked the length of the beach to take it all in while others set up shop to capture the beautiful hues in the sky on their camera lens. Whichever way you decide, it's a sunset you'll never forget.
We stayed until the last colours faded to darkness then rushed back to Ventana for a delicious five star meal.
Ventana Big Sur Amenities
The beauty of Glamping at Ventana is that you have access to the luxury resort amenities as well. Ventana was voted number four of top luxury hotels by Travel and Leisure magazine and we were told the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Taylor Swift have stayed in their luxury suites.
There's a spa, Japanese hot baths, two swimming pools (one is clothing optional) and infinity hot tubs overlooking the redwood forest.
They even offer yoga classes, excursions and guided walks. It is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We had the opportunity to move to the suites the following night after our glamping experience, but more on that later.
Dining at Ventana
Not everyone is ready to cook their meals over an open flame and since we were only glamping in Big Sur for one night, we didn't go to the grocery store to stock up on food. However, if you want to cook at your tent and try your hand at outdoor cooking, you should!
We thought why cook outside when we can enjoy the locally sourced cuisine created by Executive Chef, Paul Corsentino?
I don't know what we enjoyed more, the atmosphere or the food. Ventana offers signature cocktails and a huge wine cellar to create the perfect food pairings. The set menu goes for $90 ($80 for the vegetarian option) and includes three huge courses.
Dave said the brazed ribs melted in his mouth and my risotto was to die for.
We ate breakfast twice at Ventana and each had two completely different experiences. The weather can change in an instant on the California coast and our first morning was freezing as we slipped out of our tent.
We rushed to our car, cranked the heat and drove to the dining room where we sipped cappuccino and ate a feast of eggs by the fire. We knew we had to get on with the day, but that fire was so cozy and inviting we had to order another coffee to enjoy the solitude.
Day 2 at Big Sur Ventana
The next morning was completely different.
The sun was shining, the weather had warmed and we ate breakfast outside on a high ridge watching a whale breach in the ocean. (I know what your thinking, “they did not!“) but it's true!
Whales migrate through this area all year long and if the couple next to us didn't spot it we never would have noticed the splashes below. And what a show he put on for us! We kept seeing his huge body glisten in the sunshine as he breached above the still waters.
Back to our Big Sur Glamping Experience
After our magnificent sunset at Pfeiffer Beach, we had the rest of the night to enjoy our glamping campsite.
We went back to our tent, turned on our fire and basked in the beauty of the redwoods.
We couldn't believe the size of the trees surrounding us. It wasn't until Dave took a long exposure that we noticed the massive redwood towering overhead. It is a beautiful setting and the campsites are set far enough apart that you feel completely secluded.
We dove into the chocolate and marshmallows set aside for us and sipped tea by the fire listening to nothing but the sound of silence.
Hot water bottles were set aside for us and we filled them up with the very hot taps just outside our door. Placing them between the sheets, we felt toasty warm as we crawled into bed.
They told us we had heated blankets but we didn't realize just how heated they would become.
When we first rolled in to bed, it felt cool save for the water bottles, but half way through the night we woke up in a sweat from cranking the heating pads so high. I quickly stripped off my hat and long johns and fell back to a deep slumber until dawn.
I would have loved to go glamping in Big Sur during the summer months. I think it would be the ultimate outdoor luxury experience to spend more time exploring the Coastal Highway while coming back to the great outdoors each night.
What is included in Glamping at Ventana Big Sur
There's a wine opener, ice box and glasses, mugs and a cutting board. We could have had some very romantic outdoor experiences.
The bathrooms are pretty swank for glamping. We had running water right outside our door on our tent porch, but just a short walk took us to indoor restrooms.
The glamping bathhouse has heated floors, marble vanities and teak showers. It's warm and cozy inside. If we couldn't make the short walk, there were portable toilets located even closer.
These aren't your usual port-a-potties you get at a construction sites (or other campsites for that matter) These portable washrooms are in trailers and feel more like an RV bathroom than an outdoor camping latrine.
When all was said and done, we had everything we needed for an outdoor adventure in California while still enjoying the finer things in life.
If you want to try your hand at camping, but aren't ready to take the plunge and rough it all the way, try Glamping at Big Sur Ventana. It's a night to remember.
Ammenities for Glamping Big Sur – Ventana
- The Glamping tents are set away from the other campsites at Ventana giving a more secluded experience.
- There are restrooms and portable toilets throughout so it's never a long walk to do your business.
- Guests of Glamping Big Sur can use the Ventana resort amenities for a $100 fee. We stayed at the hotel the second night and find this price steep. I wouldn't recommend it for $100. We assume it is to keep the resort part of Ventana more exclusive. Guests pay quite a bit of money at Ventana for peace and quiet.
- Wifi is included, but we didn't have much service. We just used our 4G.
- The running water at your campsite is potable and you can use it both to wash and drink.
For more information on Glamping in Big Sur and on Ventana Big Sur Resort visit their website.
To see our full itinerary through California check out Follow ThePlanetD from Oceans to Mountains on Visit California.
Our trip to California was in partnership with Visit California. For more information on California travel and itineraries, visit their website.
As usual, all opinions are our own.