Big Sur Photo Safari

Snap gorgeous pics of the coast then bed down at Ventana Inn.

ONE-OF-A-KIND COAST: Think back to all the times a friend has pulled out some phone pics or you've seen beach snapshots in a magazine at the grocery store. Coastal pic after coastal pic is beautiful, but perhaps you had a hard time distinguishing one gorgeous rocky outcropping from the next. Then, though, you see a Big Sur photo, and, within seconds, you say, "oh, it's Big Sur." This supernaturally picturesque stretch of coast is just so itself thanks to its particular chaparral, its firs, its condors, its bridges, its wildflowers; in fact, any of those features is apt to make the serious Big Sur enthusiast recognize where a photo was taken, down to the mile marker. (Yep, condors would be a very big clue, seeing as how they loooove Big Sur.) So here's our next question, photo-loving, Central Coast-supporting traveler: Have you yourself taken any photos of the area? We mean, not from a moving car or a lookout point. Have you really seized the coast in all of its magazine-worthy, easy-to-identify glory? If not, Ventana Inn & Spa has a shutterbuggy solution for you. Not just a solution, though: a complimentary upgrade to boot. (More on that in a sec.)

PHOTO SAFARI PACKAGE: You'll stay in the Big Sur Suite -- suh-wank-y -- or something "even better." Nice. Then you'll have some quality camera equipment placed in your hands as you head out with an instructor and photographer, who will advise you through a two-hour session. (Count on locations to be highly scenic; or was that stating the obvious?) Then, while you're having dinner at the hotel later on (you'll get a $150 dining credit, so score), the photographer will turn your best pic into a large-format archival print. It's a sophisticated souvenir we expect will hang over your fireplace for the next several decades.

Oh, and about that upgrade? Book three nights at the inn and automatically get upgraded to the Photo Safari. It's good through the end of May. There are a few other to-knows, so get reading before you get clicking-and-whirring, photo buff.

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