My California Dreaming series continues with a look at Big Sur.
This stretch of coastal California has inspired writers, travelers and thinkers for more than a century. Authors such as Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac found inspiration in the forested coast, which was sparsely populated until the famed Route 1 became a state highway in 1939.
Big Sur also played a big role in developing “New Age” California culture. The Esalen Institute, founded in 1962, hosted East-meets-West classes and seminars that attracted big name lecturers: Timothy Leary, Carlos Castaneda, Deepak Chopra, Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell and B.F. Skinner. Residential workshops are still being held.
If you’re more into the outdoors than workshops, then you’ll want to plan your Big Sur trip around some hiking. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has everything that you’d want for a day in the woods, with a gorgeous beach to boot.
(North of Carmel, Point Lobos State Park also has some amazing hiking and otter watching opportunities. While I was there, I saw people scuba diving in the chilly water).
Many Route 1 tourists simply stop and snap photos of the iconic cliffs, and move on. But Big Sur has some amazing, splurge-worthy properties. If you’re breaking the bank for a special occasion, you’ll want to check out Ventana Inn & Spa. As you can see from the photo at the top of the post, sunsets here are amazing.
Or Post Ranch Inn, where Julia Roberts and her husband Danny were eating breakfast on the morning I was there. I read later that they were there on a birthday trip, sans twins.
As for me? Well, I can’t wait to get back to Glen Oaks. I loved almost everything about this property, tucked away in the woods on Route 1. The cabins in the Redwood Grove had just the right mix of luxe and rustic. I could have spent a week in my Wi-Fi enabled cabin, writing and taking nature breaks. And the rooms in the motor lodge were new, but had a mod sensibility that I could get behind. Best of all, the prices start at $175 a night.
While Big Sur can be a pricey destination, you don’t have to stay at the expensive five-star resorts. Stay at a less expensive hotel and save your money for a great meal out or a couples spa service.
One amusing note: Several places we saw in Big Sur featured those double outdoor tubs. It’s so California to me (and, more disturbing, reminds me of those Cialis commercials. When the time comes, will you be ready?)
My trip to Monterey County was sponsored by Go Monterey , but my opinions are my own.
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