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Activities in Big Sur


An Invitation to Inspiration

For centuries, the stunning beauty and powerful geography of Big Sur have beckoned artists, authors, musicians, thinkers and spiritual leaders seeking creative inspiration, personal transformation and inner well-being. Now, the Alila Experience Program extends a similar invitation to you, with workshops and activities designed to help you develop a deeper connection to yourself, your partner and the natural world. 

We invite you to explore the following menu of workshops and discover which experiences most resonate with you. All workshops are focused on couples, but can be adapted to group and/or single participants. 

Please note that Alila Experiences are private experiences that must be purchased separately and are not inclusive of your stay. The following is a sample list—for the most current available experiences, and to book in advance, please contact guest relations at 800.628.6500 or email [email protected]. For a listing of Signature Activities included in your stay, please click here.

Sur Vista / Redwoods Picnic

With one of our picnic kits from The Sur House, all you need to do is find the perfect spot among the redwoods, overlooking the Pacific, or anywhere else—we’ll handle the rest. Choose from charcuterie and cheese, Szechuan soy soba noodles, an orange and chili chicken torta, or crudite and dips, along with accompaniments such as local beers and wines. Each kit contains everything for an ideal al fresco afternoon, including plates, flatware, condiments, and more.

Price: $100 per couple, plus tax and service charge

View Picnic Kit Menu

Glass House Dinners

The exquisite Glass House and its breathtaking ocean views create a private dinner experience like no other. Perched on the edge of the continent, your party will enjoy a prix-fixe menu (modifications available by request) and memories to last a lifetime.

Duration: 3 hours
Price: $2250 location fee, $500 per person { excluding tax and service charge }

Please note that reservations for this experience must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

The Cheese Journey

This unique experience brings together several local favorites: The Cheese Shop, Carmel Honey Company and Le P’tit Paysan wines! On The Sur House patio, you’ll enjoy a variety of cheeses, along with artisan baguettes and house-made seasonal jam.  Available Thursday and Saturday; 48 hours advance booking required. 

Duration: 1 hour (3-4 p.m.)
Price: $110 per person, add a bottle of Le P’tit Paysan for $55; maximum 20 participants (10 tables of two) { excluding tax + service charge }

Big Sur Bike Tours

Available at 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. daily by advance reservation only

There are few better ways to experience the magnificent beauty of Big Sur than cruising up the Central Coast on a bike. Feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face while soaking in nature’s beauty on Ventana Big Sur’s e-bike tour in partnership with Big Sur Bike Tours. Guided by an expert, you’ll enjoy a backcountry adventure following the original wagon trail into Big Sur on the Old Coast Road, including a visit to the magical redwood groves along the Little Sur River, for an immersion into the area’s rich history and pristine environment.

Please note that this is not a smooth, easy ride, but it is suitable for all skill levels. While our e-bikes mean this is not a demanding activity in terms of fitness or endurance, the ride does include a fairly steep descent on loose gravel, and the trail can be muddy and/or dusty depending on weather conditions. Big Sur Bike Tours can tailor the ride based on the ability and preferences of group members.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $250 per person

This experience requires a minimum of two guests. Reservations must be made at least three days in advance.

Social Afternoon Tea

In this relaxing and nourishing afternoon on The Sur House patio, an exquisitely curated blooming tea is paired with our chef’s selection of dishes incorporating local ingredients. Savor the tastes, and the view, as the sun descends over the Pacific Ocean. Available Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday; 48 hours advance booking required.

Duration: 1 hour (3-4 p.m.)
Price: $80 per person; maximum 20 participants (10 tables of two) {excluding tax + service charge }

Sip Like a Sommelier

Learn about wine—and the special stories of this rich and fertile region—with Ventana Big Sur's resident wine expert. We'll focus on the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH), a neighbor to us and one of the state’s premier winemaking districts, featuring highly rated wines paired with delicacies from California's central coast. This truly is a food and wine experience to remember. By reservation only. Maximum of six guests.

Duration: 1.5 hours
Price: $195 per person { excluding tax and service charge }

The Big Sur Galleries Tour

Join Big Sur Guides and Hiking on a tour of area galleries—a rare opportunity to see the art of Big Sur and meet some of the artists as well. Discover treasures at the Hawthorne Gallery, the Coast Gallery, The Big Sur Arts Initiative Gallery, The Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe, and The Heartbeat Gallery, before finishing with a Champagne toast on The Sur House terrace at Ventana. There will be surprises along the way, including a picnic lunch on the Big Sur River.

Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours
Price: $225 per person

Star Bathing

There is nothing like the night sky in Big Sur. Slip quietly through the forest absorb a bit of knowledge about the flora and fauna. You’ll have the opportunity to turn off your flashlight and sit in a meditative state, surrounded by an enchanting circle of old-growth redwoods. At the end of your hike, the stargazing continues, allowing you to learn about the constellations or share what you know.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $150 per person

Falconry Experience

Join Master Falconer Antonio Balestreri for an exciting introduction to hawks and falcons, where you'll learn about the role of raptors in the Big Sur environment, see a flight demonstration, have a meet-and-greet with the birds, enjoy photo opportunities and more. Private and group experiences include a "hawk walk," a short hike where you'll be accompanied by a special flying guest.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $200 per person (requires a minimum of two guests)

Movement - Yoga, Tai Chi

Create a new beginning, or enhance your current body program, with a private yoga, tai chi, qi gong or meditation class. Available in a group or an individual format.

Duration: 50/80 minutes
Price: $155/$235 per person

Astrology Readings

Since ancient times, astrology readings have explored one’s birth chart to define the essential stages of life’s journey. Readings bring clarity to areas of conflict, emphasizing one’s strengths and providing tools for managing life in new and creative ways.

Duration: 90 minutes
Price: $295 per person or $350 per couple

Circle of Life Meditation Experience

Join one of our Meditation Facilitators and Big Sur residents on this inspiring journey for the spirit, body and mind. You'll experience nature's wisdom and the deep power of inner and outer peace as you gather for a centering practice and guided walking meditation. The Circle of Life is a natural ring of 100-year-old redwoods, a place that awakens awareness and revitalizes your connection with yourself and your surroundings. (The trail is a mild to moderate 10-minute walk. Please bring water and wear supportive hiking shoes.)

Duration: 1 hour
Price: $300 per couple

Robinson Jeffers Hike

If the contrast between forest and sea excites you, this walk is for you. We will first make our way up through a twisting canyon with cascading waterfalls around every corner, surrounded by centuries-old redwoods. Eventually, we’ll arrive at a secret waterfall that few people have seen—and that you’ll never forget. Finally, our journey leads to the ocean, where we will have a picnic lunch on a jetty away from shore. Here, you might see the daily otter or harbor seal, not to mention the gray or humpback whales that often drop by for a visit. 

Duration: 3 hours
Price: $125 per person

Wild Foraging Hike

This seasonal hiking excursion in the wet months of autumn/winter takes us to the forest in search of some of the most sought-after wild foods – mushrooms. You'll learn how to look for wild mushrooms with a specialist guide who will teach you how to identify edible and nonedible varieties, along with medicinal plants such as Redwood Sorrel, California Sagebrush and Bay Laurel. A picnic lunch is included. If seeing mushrooms is not a concern, this experience can be enjoyed year-round learning about which flora is edible and medicinal.

Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours
Price: $225 per person

Spiritual Hiking Excursion and Hermitage Tour

This excursion provides a special focus on the intense spirituality one can experience here in Big Sur. Your senses will awaken among the cathedral-like redwoods, cascading waterfalls, wildlife, flora and fauna. You will learn about forest bathing and the powerful connections that nature can provide. Your spirit will soar as you take in the breathtaking beauty of the untamed Pacific Ocean, rugged coastline and rock formations. The experience culminates in a picnic lunch and tour of the New Camaldoli Hermitage property, which features unsurpassed ocean views and a serene chapel where you can pause to pray, reflect or simply admire the peaceful setting.

Duration: 4 hours
Price: $250 per person

The Jack Kerouac Experience

This driving tour by Big Sur Guides and Hiking is a photographer's dream come true! Traverse the Old Coast Road – the original coastal highway stretching from Andrew Molera State Park to Bixby Bridge along a well-maintained dirt road offering vistas of the Ventana Wilderness. We'll picnic along the way saying hello along the way to old-growth redwoods and a variety of wildlife.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $125 per person. Includes picnic lunch.

Big Sur Discovery Tour

This tour, designed for people or families who want a behind-the-scenes look at the Big Sur community, features a montage of our favorite places. Ride with us to the most beautiful beaches, unforgettable waterfalls and secret vistas of the amazing coastline—as well as spectacular redwood forests, where we will forage for edibles. All the while, we’ll engage in conversation about history, folklore, flora and fauna.

Duration: 2.5-3 hours/4 hours
Price: $125/$175 per person

Photography Hike Workshop

The topography of Big Sur has fueled the dreams of seekers and nature lovers for hundreds of years. Learn how to capture it with your camera in this photography workshop and guided hike around Ventana's wilderness. You'll hike some of the most beautiful trails in California with Big Sur Hikes and Guides, and learn powerful image-making techniques to improve composition, light exposure and visual language – regardless of your skill level, camera or previous experience.

Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours
Price: $225 per person. Includes picnic lunch.

Private Hiking Excursion

Our private hiking excursion is designed to give you a taste of everything Big Sur—to immerse you in an experience like no other as you explore the diverse beauty of majestic old-growth coastal redwoods, cascading mountain streams, the rugged Pacific coastline, and stunning ocean coves. This excursion is 2.5 to 3 hours in duration; typically, our guide selects two of the many wonderful trails in the region.

Duration: 2.5 - 3 hours
Price: $125 per person (includes lunch)

Exploration in Chalk-Pastel (Private)

This class demystifies plein aire landscape artwork with basic composition techniques, sketching and color theory. Blending color, blending realism and expression to create a unique interpretation of the natural world.

Material Fee: $10 per person
 $295 per person, $350 per couple

Exploration in Acrylics (Private)

Exploration in Acrylics is not your typical painting class! This experience will give you the tools and confidence to pursue your own projects in paint, and be proud of your own original masterpiece! Working from photo reference and imagination, participants will create and develop their own acrylic landscape on canvas. Have no fear, Ruby will encourage and guide you towards your own creative revelation.

Materials Fee: $20 per person
Session Fee: $295 per person, $350 per couple

Exploration in Watercolor (Private)

Exploration in Watercolor offers a basic understanding of materials and techniques to let paint and creativity flow. We begin with basic sketching from observation, delve into washes and translucent layers, and experiment with color theory.

Materials Fee: $15 per person
Session Fee: $295 per person, $350 per couple

Writing as a Contemplative Practice

This workshop is a journey designed for the person who wants to express themselves more deeply through the written word, while surrounded by the natural beauty of Big Sur. Stephen Copeland will be your guide as you explore within and create stories with meaningful, revealing content.

Select from one of two story lines: "Something you have always wanted to say", or "What makes you most happy." We will work together for 90 minutes, and then share our stories with each other. 

Duration: 90 minutes
Cost: $350 per person

Touch Earth's Essence Workshop Playing Clay

Remind your senses of our connection to the earth with this class, a shortcut to getting your hands wet with clay under the guidance of a local artist. Using the provided toolkit and clay, you will learn simple slab-making techniques and form shallow bowls, with stamp molds available to create impressions of fish, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and more.

At the end of the class, you can choose to have the artist dry, trim, and glaze your bowl and ship it to your home when complete—a unique and lasting reminder of your time at Ventana.

Duration: 90 minutes
Session Fee: $295 per person, $350 per couple (glazing and shipping an additional $100 per couple)

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Select travel Dates: -
Field Selections
Reasons to Book
Why Book With Us
  • Best Rates Guaranteed
  • Exclusive Packages
  • More Availability
Modify / Cancel My booking