As romantic as cities can be, there is something magical about escaping the winter slush and post-holiday crowds with your partner to immerse yourself in the isolated beauty of a place like Big Sur, a remote, mile-long village on California's Central Coast that's a two hour drive south on the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco.
If you haven't already pinned a photo of Big Sur to your travel board on Pinterest, you may have read about its striking waves-against-cliffs scenery in a celebrity tabloid magazine. Both Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway chose it as the location for their fairy-tale outdoor weddings, as did Andy Samberg, Jack Black, and tech billionaire Sean Parker, whose controversial 2013 nuptials resulted in a media backlash and a $2.5 million fine for his decision to turn a protected redwood forest into a Lord of the Rings-themed ceremony. Kate Bosworth may have married in Montana, but she too has Big Sur (both the town and the 2013 film) to thank for introducing her to her now-husband, director Michael Polish.
The dramatic oceanfront bluffs of Monterey County also provide the perfect backdrop for marriage proposals, not just for celebs like The Hangover's Justin Bartha, but for everyday couples like this one and this cute pair. In fact, you might even say that Big Sur is the "engagement chicken" of travel destinations. If you want to take your relationship to the next level, then a romantic getaway weekend consisting of drinking wine, communing with nature, and skinny-dipping under the stars could just inspire you and your honey to start making future plans. And with the fall wildfire season over with, the winter months are a lovely time to visit.
Below are four must-see spots to see during your trip:
1. Ventana Inn
When you arrive at this adults-only resort, you will be greeted by a chauffeur at the parking lot, who will be only too happy to hand you a glass of wine, take your bags, drive you to check-in and, afterwards, give you a golf-car tour of the property, which includes two heated pools, Japanese hot spas, and a restaurant that overlooks the ocean. Missed the daily wine and cheese hour? They'll send you plates and glasses of vino to your room. Want to take a hike? The property boasts its own walking trails on its 243 acres, complete with wild deer and turkey sightings. Or, if you prefer to explore other restaurants in Big Sur, the Ventana will chauffeur you to any other restaurant in town. But considering that most rooms have their own wood-burning fireplace, deep soaking tub, and deck with a hammock and/or hot tub, there are plenty of reasons to stay in and order room service. The Ventana is definitely a splurge price-wise, but LivingSocial.com is currently offering a significant discount on stays though the end of March.
2. Julien Pfeiffer Beach
Flickr, Andrew Julian
For an easy, one mile hike with gorgeous views, head to this oceanside park off of Highway 1 and take the Waterfall Trail, which will lead you to a 80-foot waterfall that plunges over a white sand beach. Keep reading...
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