Big Sur + Monterey Bay

Hotels in Big Sur + Monterey Bay

A rope swing—dangling from an oak tree just outside the lobby—signifies the youthful aesthetic: what was once a gray-haired golf resort just east of Carmel is now a sprawling outpost well-suited for families, and couples too.

Built on pylons over Monterey Bay, the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is the closest hotel to the ocean on the northern California peninsula. Dolphins swim by the property almost daily, and travelers on their private balconies can often spot sea otter searching for oysters.

At the end of the day, backtrack 13 miles to the spiffy San Jose-foothills suburb of Saratoga and the upscale 46-room inn. It’s a bit businessy and sedate, but the beds are big and comfortable.

Book a room with a fireplace this stone-and-stucco, intimate hotel, where many of the 16 rooms have vaulted ceilings and wooden shutters. A Belgian draft horse, Chester, is the luxe property’s mascot, spending his evenings pulling guests around the town square.

The hotel opened in 1992 and is made up entirely of small buildings set on a ridge high above the Pacific. In 2008 Post Ranch added 10 new sculptural structures, spiraling Pacific Suites, cantilevered Peak Houses, and Richard Serra-esque Cliff houses clad in torques of rusted steel.

Nearly every Mongolian-esque yurt at this eco-resort has ocean views from the redwood decks and Adirondack chairs, but without the thread count or plumbing—the bathroom is a short walk away—a small price to pay for a spectacular location.

The 208-room hotel, next to the aquarium, is a family-friendly InterContinental with a pool.

If hammocks, afternoon wine and cheese receptions, and guided “Discovery Walks” appeal to you, this cozy, adults-only retreat is just your ticket.

Just off California's most dramatic stretch of coast, this recently expanded cluster of cabins and lodge rooms was made for sybaritic nature lovers.

Along with more expected amenities, like a swimming pool and large, comfortable rooms, the property offers fanciful gardens that will grab the imagination of any dreamy child. (Check out the “bed” of flowers.)

Convenient and family friendly, the lodge is just steps from the beach and a 10-minute walk to Cannery Row.

161-room resort best known for the caliber of its on-site golf course.

Two-night minimum required to play Pebble Beach Golf Links.