There are countless reasons why a trip to Big Sur, California is on many travelers list of must-visit destinations. With the announcement that repairs to a 150-foot stretch of iconic Highway 1 in southern Monterey County will be complete by early summer 2021, road trippers don’t have to wait until then to experience Big Sur’s majesty. Newly created turnarounds and detour routes along Highway 101 are in place to access all businesses and attractions for northbound and southbound travelers along the Central Coast this spring. Those looking to responsibly explore Big Sur’s famed coastline will find a drive complete with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and an impressive array of wildflowers in bloom. From activities aimed at complete wellness restoration to elevated roadside eats, here are four reinvigorating reasons to plan a getaway to Big Sur.
Ride the Wellness Trend
Ventana Big Sur, glamping yurt.
Amid a global pandemic, wellness is top of mind more than ever – evidenced by the Wall Street Journal’s recent assertion that two hours in nature could be the new equivalent of striving toward 10,000 steps in a day. Some draws for those seeking to boost personal health this spring include:
- Post Ranch Inn has launched a 6 Pillars of Healthy Living™ Program, developed by a physician and focused on healthy eating, active living, restorative sleep, stress reduction and awareness, connection, and passion and purpose. As part of the program, guests have access to various virtual and outdoor experiences – from meditation classes to sleep instruction.
- Esalen, a longtime retreat dedicated to self-exploration, reopens this month. Among the institute’s draws are its hot springs, known for their pain and healing properties, and the onsite organic farm, where produce is served 400 steps from where it is grown.
- Ventana Big Sur recently reopened with an inclusive offering to make indulgence even more seamless for guests. The carefree approach includes meals and signature activities, such as outdoor fitness classes, tai chi, property hikes and more.
- With an abundance of parks and hiking trails in Big Sur, visitors won’t have any problem spending two hours in nature (or achieving 10,000 steps). Spring is primetime for wildflower blooms in this area, with Calla Lily Valley in Garrapata State Park and trails in Andrew Molera State Park, Los Padres National Forest, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park boasting the best views.
Embrace Local History and These Now Reopened Spots
Big Sur is steeped in history, with its 90 miles of rugged coastline settled by determined pioneers more than a century ago. Embrace the past at these must-stops that recently reopened:
- After enduring an uncertain future due to the strain of the pandemic, the historic Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn – a staple in the area since the 1930s, and on the National Register of Historic Places – recently reopened and is again welcoming guests. The rustic property is known for its throwback vibe, allowing travelers to truly disconnect.
- Lucia Lodge, which served as the backdrop for Netflix’s Ratched television show, is now open after an extended closure and accessible from the south along Highway 1. The cliffside property is still run by fifth generation descendants of the family who built it nearly 100 years ago.
- Another quintessential property, Big Sur Lodge, has recently reopened stays to its 62 cottage-style rooms. Located in the heart of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the property is a hiker’s dream come true.
- Step back in time at the Henry Miller Memorial Library, named for the famed early 20th century American writer who lived in (and adored) the area. Peruse books and other historic items Thursdays through Sundays.
Whet Your Appetite with Local Fare
Coast Big Sur. Photo Credit: Bon Traveler
Eating like a local is part of the fun of road trip adventures. Don’t miss these iconic (and newer) spots beloved by Big Sur natives:
- Taste the famous hot apple pie at Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant, originally called the Apple Pie Inn. The restaurant offers outdoor dining and to go meals noon to 5 p.m. daily. Or head over to the Inn’s rehabbed vintage bus featuring a coffee bar and ice cream station.
- Housed in repurposed Redwood water tanks, COAST Big Sur originally started in the late 1950s as a place for local artists to exhibit and sell their creations. Fast forward six decades and multiple owners, this shop and gallery nestled along Highway 1 is packed with elevated casual cuisine – from picnic-inspired items to local beer and wine.
- The area’s newest eatery, Big Sur Smokehouse, originally opened in 2019 and is set to reopen again this spring. Patrons rave about the California barbecue, which blends east and west styles.
Take Home a One-of-a-Kind Souvenir
While plucking flowers and other plants in Big Sur is out of the question, travelers can shop local to recreate the destination’s coastal vibe in their own home:
- Big Sur jade is said to bring its recipients luck, and visitors can hedge their bets with a stop at Big Sur Jade Co. – available by appointment only – for truly unique artwork made with the local gem.
- Big Sur Dry Goods is a modern-day general store where every item is both plastic-free and from women-owned brands. The inventory includes essentials from toothpaste and laundry detergent to more indulgent purchases, like jewelry, handbags and scarves.
- Located at the site of the iconic Nepenthe Restaurant, The Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe offers curated gift sets, local art, books from local artists, and more. Don’t miss the themed items – like the California Gift Set – that include everything from coasters and pint glasses to plates and notecards.