About a month before Christmas, with my parents out of town, and knowing that we would see Patrick’s family on Christmas Eve… I decided on a whim that we should road trip up to Big Sur (one of my favorite places on the California Coast), and try the new glamping sites at the Ventana resort.

We woke up Christmas morning, had our breakfast, opened presents, and then loaded up the car by noon and we were on our way!

The south entrance to Big Sur, above Cambria, is still closed due to the landslide last year, so the drive is longer than it would normally take from Los Angeles (they predict the entrance to be open again late summer 2018), but after about five and half hours, the scene that presents itself when you arrive makes every minute in the car WORTH IT.

The glamping and camping sites are set in a wooded canyon of California redwood trees, with the main resort buildings and restaurant up high on the hills above (offering breathtaking views of the Pacific).

The tents come equipped with heated blankets and the coziest beds EVER.

Children are not allowed to sleep alone, so Patrick and I each took a kiddo, then switched them each night so we each had snuggle time.

The front “porch” area has a sink with both cold and hot water available for brushing teeth, washing hands, or making tea (which they provide in a basket of goodies, including all of the ingredients for s’mores).

There is also a cooler inside of a wooden chest, where you can store your own food and snacks.

And my favorite part? The push button propane fire pit you can just start in mere seconds to take the chill off in the morning (there is also a “real” fire pit and firewood available to make a genuine fire in the evenings).

There were a few packages to choose from when I booked, and because it was Christmas, I picked a holiday package that included a breakfast delivery each morning of coffee, juice, granola and yogurt, and plates of pastries.

They also have a welcome tent, where you can walk to, to get coffee and tea.

… and let’s talk about the bath house.

This is FAR from roughing it, folks. In fact, the floors are heated…

… and the design makes you feel like you are in an actual spa, with yummy smelling bath products and large fluffy white towels.

Now for some tips 😉 .

Our tent numbers were 68 and 69. 68 sat right next to this stream, pictured above, so that you had the lovely sound of rushing water at night to lull you to sleep.

69 through 70 are situated, in what I feel, are the best spots for kids to roam.

There is a fifteen hundred year old redwood just outside of 69, (now named Joey Big Ben Murphy) and another grand old tree with a “fairy ring” that sits nearby.

There is also a nice stretch of trees and a gulch to run around in and explore.

As I mentioned earlier… we arrived ON Christmas day, and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

The final night of our three night stay, we saw a huge increase in campers for the following weekend and for the week of New Years.

…something to keep in mind if you are looking to book over the holidays like we did!

We can honestly say that this trip was by far one of our most treasured travel experiences, EVER.

Was it cheap? No.

… but the kids were in heaven… and without any real cell phone service in the area… so were we!

It was such a perfect way to hunker down, spend time, disconnect, RE-connect, and be outside… especially following such a hectic holiday season that inevitably seems to leave us feeling physically and emotionally drained.

And the unexpected takeaway?

Because we left on Christmas day, and had a minimal focus on presents… the excitement, for the kids, shifted from “getting gifts” to “we are so excited to go to the forest!”.

In fact, there was no mention of the gifts they had just received during our entire stay. They were just completely immersed in the experience.

This, for me, has now changed my outlook on how I will plan our holidays, and you can bet we are already talking about making this an annual tradition!

I think I have already convinced MiMi and Pop Pop that this is where we will be next year, and they seem game!

If you are traveling through Big Sur, I have also rounded up a few more of my favorite spots to go, especially if you have kids!

Andrew Molera State Park is a favorite of ours, because it’s a nice and easy one mile hike to the beach, with a gorgeous view, soft sand, and one of the few surf breaks in Big Sur.

When it’s warmer, there is a fresh water lagoon you can swim in too.

Partington Cove is a little more than a mile hike, down a steep road, but then over a bridge and through a tunnel built in the 1880’s originally used to transport oak down to the ships that used to dock there.

There isn’t much to do once you’ve finished the hike… but to search for rocks, take in the view and marvel at the rocky coastline, which was just fine by us.

This was our first time doing this hike, and the kids LOVED it.

We also explored Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, although I don’t have any photos to share. There are plenty of kid-level trails, including a lovely river walk, where the littles love to splash around and skip rocks.

We also took a more challenging route to Buzzard’s Roost, which was amazing, but a bit tough for my four year old, who ended up getting some piggy back rides to help her along!

If you want to check out some history and the cultural scene of Big Sur, make sure you stop into the Henry Miller Memorial Library.

It’s funky, and fun, and has an interesting selection of books that give you some insight into the area.

We took some books back to our campsite and read them by the fire.

Finally… make sure you swing into Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant for some of the best coffee, pastries, and meals around.

They were super accommodating, and squeezed us in on our last night there without a reservation, when they could have easily turned us away (probably because we had been there for the previous two evenings!).

Let me know if you have any questions about our stay, or about the area. There are plenty more hikes and fun activities to explore, even if you have to take a further drive up into Carmel.

Big Sur (and Ventana)… we love you and we will most DEFINITELY be back!