I love returning to the Monterey Bay. This is where I exhale…where my heart and soul are in perfect rhythm. Growing up in Carmel in the mid 70’s-80’s I lived there at a time when it was filled with artists, hippies, dropouts and was sprinkled with a few people with affluence. Now the climate has shifted so much it is barely recognizable. The influx of money from Texas and Silicon Valley has indeed changed the physical appearance of this once quaint area with new construction and chain retailers. But the core will never change. When I return I do not see the new I simply feel the old. The simple.
My mom first took my brothers and I to Big Sur in 1976 when we were transplanted from snooty Conneticut to the wild west. I feel so deeply in love with this rugged coast line. With the canopy of trees that opened to a few tie dyed, rather dingy buildings. The scrappy and overly hairy men and women seemed free of all detachment and everyday stresses. I suppose this is what I have been searching for the past 40 years. I find myself drawn back to Big Sur many many times each year to refuel and reconnect with that little 12 year old open hearted girl.
Much has changed but one that has not is Nepenthe. I have been eating there for almost 40 years and the Ambrosia burger never ever disappoints. If I close my eyes taking that first bite (which I do!) I am transported back in time. The french fries are to die for but I always get the three bean salad. If they have Holly’s Banana Cream Pie get it without hesitation! Game changer!
My other childhood favorite is The Big Sur River Inn. They have made some changes which I don’t love but I still must go every time. I’m not fond of the new entry or the closing of the gift shop. But Noelle’s Salmon Salad with Grilled Salmon is insanely fresh and tasty. The once craved Fried Artichoke hearts are off the menu but the fries are good. Summer is too busy for me. But if you get there early enough to score a chair and sit in the river with a cocktail nothing will beat it. I’m a winter gal so I love going in the off season (if there really is one) bundled up and watch the weather from inside. They have rooms to stay in as well thought I have not stayed in them.
Glen Oaks is my favorite romantic getaway. For years this was a small roadside motel. Over the past few years they have revamped the entire space. They have a lodge located off the highway but the cabins are so special. Tucked away in the trees some on the river across the street from the lodge In the morning they offer the most delicious fresh made donuts. My only issue is that they book up so fast it is near impossible to get a cabin. Their restaurant Big Sur Roadhouse Restaurant is great for wine and appetizers. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.