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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. 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 us on a tour of area galleries a rare opportunity to see the art of Big Sur and meet some of the local artists as well. Discover the treasures of the Hawthorne Gallery, Coast Gallery, The Gallery at Loma Vista, and the Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe, before finishing with a Champagne toast at Ventana’s Sur House Restaurant.

Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours

Price: $225 per person

Star Bathing Night Hiking

There is nothing like the night sky in Big Sur, where you feel as though you can touch the stars. Join us for a night hiking adventure in the beautiful wilderness, the stars and moon shining brightly above, sometimes dotted with coastal clouds. Opportunities along the way to smell the pungent aroma of Bay Laurel, or pause in the dark and sit in a meditative state surrounded by an enchanting circle of old growth redwoods. You will end this activity at Adirondack chairs in a grassy meadow overlooking the ocean; where you may sit with your special snacks and drinks to enjoy the evening further under the night skies.

Duration: 2 hours
Price: $150 per person

Falconry Experience

Join Master Falconer Antonio Balestreri for an exciting introduction to hawks, falcons and owls , 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. 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

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 driving and light walking tour features a montage of our favorite places and highlights of the area the most beautiful beaches, majestic waterfalls, and a spectacular redwood forest that you will never forget!

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 or smartphone 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 Excursions

When you immerse yourself in the diverse beauty of majestic old-growth redwoods, cascading mountain streams, and the rugged Pacific coastline, you are more than a visitor to Big Sur—you become a part of this region’s story. In turn, it becomes a part of you, leaving an indelible impression that changes you forever. These private hiking excursions afford you the opportunity to not only have new experiences, but gain new perspectives.

  • Private Hike 2.5 to 3 hours, $125 pp

  • Half-Day Excursion 4 hours, $175 pp

  • The Robinson Jeffers Hike 2.5 to 3 hours, $125 pp

  • Big Sur Discovery Tour (driving and light hiking) 2.5 to 3-4 hours, $125/$175 pp

  • The Jack Kerouac Experience (driving tour on the Old Coast Road) 2.5 to 3 hours, $125 pp

  • Star Bathing Night Hike 1.5 to 2 hours, $150 pp

  • Wild Foraging Hike 2.5 to 3 hours, $225 pp

  • The Photography Hike Workshop 2.5 to 3 hours, $225 pp

  • The Big Sur Galleries Tour 2.5 to 3 hours, $225 pp

  • Spiritual Hiking Excursion and Hermitage Tour 4 hours, $250 pp

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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