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Top 10 Exceptional Big Sur Landmarks

Big-Sur-Landmarks

Big Sur is spectacularly beautiful. If you live in the region, you already know that. Known internationally, it has a number of ‘must see’ landmarks. Numerous articles have been written by residents and travelers alike, from all walks of life, about what to do or see while in the Big Sur area. Following is our list of 10 places to go or see, drawing on many of what we feel are some of Big Sur’s most exceptional places.

Highway 1 leads to most locations in the Big Sur area. This drive is actually about 85 miles, but you need to be on the alert as you drive, for places to stop and admire the scenery.

Top 10 Exceptional Big Sur Landmarks

  1. One of the most frequent and delicious stops in Big Sur, for locals and tourists alike, is the Big Sur Bakery.  Much more than breads and treats Big Sur Bakery offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a respite for the weary traveler. Along with their flourless brownie with walnut ice cream, they recommend slowing down to appreciate all that Big Sur has to offer your senses.
    Big-Sur-Bakery
  2. Consistently rated as one of the most popular attractions in the area is McWay Falls. It’s just over 35 miles south of Carmel off Highway 1, located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The 80-foot waterfall from McWay Falls flows year ‘round. It’s unusual in that it, along with the Almere Falls, flows directly into the ocean. There’s actually a hiking trail, less than a mile, that leads directly to it. Click here for that information. The park itself is named after a respected pioneer woman from Big Sur country. You’ll see redwoods, tan oaks, the waterfall as mentioned, and a fabulous view of the ocean and many miles of rugged coastline.
  3. Bookstore, art center, and more; the Henry Miller Memorial Library is well worth visiting. But perhaps not for the reasons you think. Besides the fame of its name, and the books and objet d’art, it is a well-known and loved concert spot. How so? Outdoors in the towering redwoods, with the ocean a few steps away.
  4. As you head out from Monterey, it would be hard to miss Bixby Street Bridge. In fact, it’s one of the most photographed and popular attractions in this area, and has been featured many times in movies and on television. It was completed in 1932. It’s not that it’s long: it’s the architecture – height and arch – and the amazingly dramatic view of the coastline.Why include accommodations and a restaurant? You won’t want to ‘do’ Big Sur in just one day, unless you’re in the area and make a day trip or two. Each of these unique places have a history, and offer something special.
  5. Post Ranch Inn is a luxury resort with an unbelievable view of the coastline. Their restaurant Sierra Mar is an exceptional and creative fine dining experience.
  6.  Big Sur Lodge has cabins in Pfeiffer Big Sur State park. They’re cottage-style, with great decks and amazing views of the surrounding redwoods. Near hiking paths, it offers free access to the state park facilities, and more.
  7. Trip Advisor’s rating of the New Camaldoli Hermitage is 4.5/5. This branch of the Benedictine family was founded in the 10th century. It’s located in the Santa Lucia Mountains. While not for everyone, this is the spot you’ll want to go to if you love solitude and an opportunity to quietly experience some of the beauty of the Big Sur area.
  8. Treebones Resort is considered a ‘glamping’ site: glamorous camping! You’ll find wood floors, redwood decks, and Adirondack’s that have ocean views. Campsites are also available.  Ask about their “nest”!
  9. Nepenthe Restaurant, besides offering great California fare, is about the view. With a terrace perched on a cliff over the Big Sur coastline, the vistas are extraordinary.
  10. The Esalen Institute is a retreat, spa, and self-help experience rolled into one unique location. You must make reservations as their workshops are the main attraction for a stay at Esalen. Rooms are shared unless there are two of you attending together. You are able to take advantage of their workshops while staying elsewhere in the area.

Top 10 big-sur-landmarks

McWay Falls Photo Credit

How Runners Prepare for the Big Sur Marathon

BigSurInternationalMarathon

The annual Big Sur International Marathon—one of the world’s most recognizable, and beautiful runs—is coming up on April 24, 2016. If you’re already a distance runner, and have run a marathon before, you’ll know the kind of grit and constant training and running that’s required. If you haven’t, or perhaps not run one as hilly as Big Sur, you might find it interesting to discover how runners prepare for the Big Sur Marathon.

Hurricane Point

Running the Big Sur, you’re going to face something as challenging (and freeing) as Hurricane Point. It’s not simply a “hill”. But to train for the Big Sur International Marathon, you must include hill training. It’s not pretty, and it demands repetition. Your legs, knees, and endurance all need to be strengthened. Cop out in training and you may not do well, or finish, this marathon.

Training Regimes

Training for a marathon, particularly one as demanding as Big Sur, takes strategy. You’ll probably include interval training, hill training, distance runs, tempo pace runs, and yes, even some easy runs. Everyone trains differently, but there are similarities in training regimes. Most runners will train for 15 – 20 weeks. Following is a very simplified training sampler showing week 1, week 5, week 10, and week 15. It’s not inclusive, and not tailored for anyone in particular. It simply indicates some of the things a runner might do in training for a race where he or she will be running a very difficult (but beautiful) course for several hours on race day:

  • Week 1 – 5+ easy miles, some cross-training, several hills, 4-5 miles at normal speed, 5+ long slow distance (LSD) miles.
  • Week 5 – Cross-training, tempo miles, interval training, and perhaps 8-10 LSD miles. Your weekly distance has already been increased to perhaps 20 miles or more.
  • Week 10 – Your weekly distance may be 30+ miles at this point, progressively reached through LSD or other miles. If you haven’t already been doing so, you’ll want to take a day or two off. You’re probably running in excess of what you need for the Big Sur (not a bad idea).
  • Week 15 – Assuming this is race week, or perhaps the week before, you’ll want to mix in some easy training, while backing off to perhaps 10+ miles over several days.

There are other preparations that would be underway simultaneously; things like eating right, hydrating, taking care of any early signs of physical stress points, and mental preparation. Some of the more veteran runners would tell you to first and foremost enjoy what you’re doing, and especially, to enjoy the run itself! Take in the scenery, while training and most importantly on the run. Consider running with one or more partners on race day. Look ahead, and also take the time to look back: look back at what you’ve done.

It’s a Huge Deal

The Big Sur marathoner develops, among many things, grit, quad and other muscles, endurance, and a sense of accomplishment. It may sound like there are so many marathoners’ worldwide that running one isn’t a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Have you seen anyone get breathless climbing upstairs recently, or running a few steps for the bus?

Details About the Big Sur Marathon

Marathoners need to be well-stretched, trained, and have their vision in mind. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the route! For the Big Sur run, they know they’ll face serious hills, most probably be running against the wind at times; all the while striving to complete the race with their personal bests, or at least finish as many miles as they can. If you’ve never run this kind of race, but want to get out there and cheer the runners on for this sold out race, set aside this date in your calendar: April 24, 2016. It starts at Big Sur Station at 6:45 a.m., with the course winding from Big Sur to Carmel. If you’d like more information on this year’s run, please visit the main website.

Review the Route

Ben ran the race in 1993 and then his son, Grant, ran it exactly 20 years later.  Ben shares some insightful stories about preparing for the Big Sur Marathon and the run in the video he created, while he drove the route in 2012. If you haven’t had the pleasure of running the Big Sur Marathon, you can still experience the course from the comfort of Ben & Carole’s car…

Photo Credit

Big Sur Foragers Festival

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Are you a lover of food, drink, and the gorgeous offerings of Big Sur’s abundant nature? Then you will want to consider attending the 2016 edition of the Big Sur Foragers Festival, a fundraiser for the Big Sur Health Center.

The event takes place from January 15-17. If you already know you want to go, you can purchase tickets online now. Ticket prices range from $35 for the hikes, to $60 for the popular Fungus Face Off, to $175 for the Grand Celebrity Chef Dinner. Click this link to go directly to the ticket sales page. In the meantime, following is a little more information to whet your appetites.

The list of events, participants, and highlights has been expanded for the forthcoming Festival, but includes some favorites as well. Here’s an idea of what will be happening in January:

New Events

  • Friday, January 15, 2016. At 5:30 there’s a cocktail reception and fungus presentation. Louie Schwartzberg will take you through it. It’s followed by a 5 course tasting menu. Wine pairings by Sierra Mar wine director Dominique DaCruz. There are only 22 tickets available, at $500 each. Call the Post Ranch at (800) 527-2200 if you’re interested.
  • Sunday, January 17, 2016. At 11 a.m. you can hike and then enjoy a 3 course lunch with Post Ranch’s Executive Chef John Cox. All items will have been foraged from the property, and be accompanied by local wines. This event is limited to 16 people. (The hike is weather permitting.) Call the Post Ranch to make your reservations.

By Popular Demand

  • Saturday, January 16, 2016. There are several interesting events. Two Wild Foraging Walk and Talk hikes are being offered. One for beginners, at Pfeiffer State Park, and the other for intermediate-level hikers, at Big Sur Wilderness. Each takes place at 9:30, and the cost for each is $35. On the deck at Ventana Big Sur is the very popular Fungus Face Off! It’s at 1 p.m., and the cost is $60. Over 60 items are being offered in the annual Silent Auction. You can win culinary prizes, hotel stays, and much more. Raffle tickets are $5 each, or 6 for $25.
  • Sunday, January 17, 2016. Imagine… Foraged Foods at Home. Big Sur Lodge is the location, chefs are to be announced, and everyone gets to both taste the foods and take some recipes home. There are 50 spaces available for this event, taking place from 2 to 4 p.m., and featuring chanterelles, nettles, and more.

To find out more about any of the events, about the chefs, or to plan your foraging, visit the 2016 event page by clicking this link.

This list was accurate at the time of publication; please check directly with the venue(s) to ensure dates, times, and locations remain the same.

Photo Credit

Halloween in Big Sur

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Calling all ‘ghouls’: if you and your family love all that fall has to offer, including the spooky bits, we want to share with you the many interesting haunts coming to your neighborhood this month. You may even find a trick, a treat, or a surprise as you read on, and plan out your activities. We’ll have more for you next week, but for now let’s talk about Halloween in Big Sur.

People have written and talked quite a bit about Point Sur Lightstation. It has appeared in various lists as one of the top five most haunted lighthouses in America. Who lost their lives, and whose spirits still live there? It’s been said that the ghost of a former stationkeepers’ wife does. It’s been said the spirits of many sailors, from ships crashing nearby, live there. Here’s an interesting read on such things. But you can more than just read: you can pay a visit to this Lightstation on one of two dates to attend their 10th Annual Ghost Tour! All good researches will want to investigate personally; right? Here are the relevant details:

Tour Dates/Times: Saturday October 17 and 24 / 5:15 p.m.

Cost: An $85 tax-deductible donation

Conditions: Besides being for the brave of heart, no children under 6 will be allowed. If you have special needs, please contact the Lightstation in advance. Limited to 40 persons per tour

To learn more about this evocatively well-known tour, to register, or to find out what our resident paranormal investigator will be doing there, please visit the event page.

Please see our next article, as we ‘flesh out’ even more terrors for you to enjoy, in safety, this Halloween season.

This list was accurate at the time of publication; please check directly with the venue(s) to ensure dates, times, and locations remain the same.

Photo Credit

Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

BigSurFoodandWineCathrineLindblom

From Thursday through Saturday, November 5-7, 2015, one of Big Sur’s most popular culinary events takes place. This festival has been rated by Travel and Leisure as one of their Top Ten.

This festival raises a lot of money for local charities: over $100,000 in its first four years. Founded by Toby-Rowland Jones in 2009 (at that point, Toby had already worked his considerable magic at the Big Sur Jazz Fest, the Masters of Food & Wine, and other festivals), his vision was to hold an outstanding event that “blended fine food and wine with Big Sur character.” This epicurean festival is a one of a kind event every year. Toby and the organization behind this are paying it forward to support the health, character, and vitality of our community. Proceeds support local non-profits involved in health, safety, education, and the arts.

Planning for this year’s Big Sur Food & Wine Festival has been underway for some time but is still unfolding for this year’s offering, so please visit www.bigsurfoodandwine.org/ soon for up to the minute information.

This list was accurate at the time of publication; please check directly with the venue to ensure dates, times, and locations remain the same.

Photo Credit

Big Sur Half Marathon Route Highlights Area Scenery & Monterey Homes

Big Sur Marathon Run

On November 16, 2014 the Big Sur Half Marathon has its twelfth anniversary. One of the most prestigious runs in North America and the world, this fabulous, well attended, fund-raising event winds its way through some of Monterey California’s most beautiful areas.

The winning purse this year is $20,000, and the top prizes to be awarded include a 1st Place Prize of $3,000. But the Big Sur Half Marathon is more about individual achievement and raising money for charities than it is about prizes. Our partners in 2014 include Ronald McDonald House Charities, which includes their scholarship program, and much more. Committing to fund raising isn’t as hard as you think, and to help you out, the Half Marathon organizers have provided you with a few tips.

While fitness and personal bests are front and center for any runner, the landscape in the Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur areas has always been a huge draw. Your route, beginning on Del Monte Avenue, takes you to Bay Park, and from there, through other amazingly beautiful and historic locations, and right by some outstanding Monterey homes. Runners pass through historic Cannery Row, home of John Steinbeck. They’ll pass close to Crocker Grove, home of Monterey’s oldest Cypress trees. Pacific Grove’s Post Office is on the route as well. One of the most scenic parts of the half marathon are the six miles you’ll run right beside Monterey Bay. Then there’s Oceanview/Sunset Drive, Lover’s Point, and finally the Rec Trail, leading runners right back to the finish line at Custom House Plaza.

Registration for this run has been open since April, and is now in its final phase. The cost to register for the Half Marathon through October and right up to November 8th is $130 for adults. The entry fee includes a unique ASICS t-shirt, a ceramic finisher’s medallion, bib tag timing, and much more. For complete details about this year’s November 16th Big Sur Half Marathon, please visit the event information Web page at www.bigsurhalfmarathon.org/Event_Information/Half_Marathon.htm.

Run for a great cause, run for your health, and run by some of the most beautiful scenery and architecture that Monterey Bay has to offer!

This list was accurate at the time of publication. Please check directly with the venue to ensure dates, times, and locations remain the same.

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Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

Big Sur Food and Wine Festival

November 6 – 9 will mark the sixth year for Big Sur’s annual Food & Wine Festival. To date, over $100,000 has been raised for the Big Sur community! In addition to money donated, this annual occasion continues to promote our area as a “magical culinary destination.” Trip Advisor has recognized this event as one of the finest food and wine events in America.

Gateway to Big Sur, at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, kick-starts this fantastic event on Thursday at 5:30 pm. Hosted by lead sponsor Masters of Food and Wine, cuisine from top restaurants such as Andre’s Bouchee and Esalen will be on hand, along with wine from Cold Heaven Cellars, Foxen, and many more.

Each successive day of the event brings more culinary and tasting opportunities.

On Friday, you can start with the Pinot Walk About, and later on enjoy a Tuscan BBQ. On Saturday, experience an auction in the morning and the Firestone Brewery Dinner at the Big Sur Taphouse later on. Sunday begins with the Grand Public Tasting. Over the course of four days and evenings there are almost 20 different and diverse activities.

To find out all the details, please visit the schedule page for this year’s Big Sur Food & Wine Festival: http://www.bigsurfoodandwine.org/purchase-tickets/schedule/event-schedule2014/.

This list was accurate at the time of publication. Please check directly with the venue to ensure dates, times, and locations remain the same.

Photo credit

Halloween in Big Sur

Halloween in Big Sur

Here are a couple of events for those of you looking for a little Big Sur Halloween fun. Keep an eye out for our other blog posts we’ve shared for more Halloween events in Monterey County.

Big Sur Costume Ball

On October 31, beginning at 6 p.m., the Halloween Bal Masque (Halloween Costume Ball) takes place at Nepenthe Restaurant, at 4851 Highway One in Big Sur. The Ball lasts until midnight, so don’t forget to have a ride waiting! The restaurant will be closed for dinner this night.

More information: call (831) 667-2345 or visit their web site.

Point Sur’s 9th Annual Ghost Tour

Are you afraid of ghosts? If not, you’ll want to brave Point Sur’s 9th Annual Ghost Tour! Enjoy stories of Pt. Sur’s ghostly past and get the results of paranormal investigations in the area.

The tour is open to anyone who wants to have a little fun and is over the age of 6. The Lightstation will accommodate persons with disabilities, if you inform them after making your reservation.

By attending one of the tours, youre contributing to a good cause as proceeds go toward the restoration of Point Sur Lightstation State Historic Park.

There are three dates and times for this year’s spooky tours:

  • Saturday, October 18 – 5:15 p.m. (includes dinner)
  • Saturday, October 25 – 5:15 p.m. (includes dinner)
  • Friday, October 31 at 7 p.m.

Location: Point Sur Lightstation on Highway 1.

Cost: $85 tax deductible donation per person.

More information: visit their website at www.pointsur.org. Tickets can be ordered through Eventbrite.

This list was accurate at the time of publication. Please check directly with the venue to ensure dates, times, and locations remain the same.

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Point Sur Lighthouse: An Unusual Big Sur Home

Big Sur Lighthouse

Have you ever lived in a location as remote, or as difficult to get to for many years, as Point Sur, California? This beautiful but rugged coast has seen many shipwrecks in its day; it probably would have more if not for a successful petition in the late 1880s to have a lighthouse built. It wasn’t until 1974 that this lightstation was finally automated, and the last keeper left Point Sur.

The first keeper moved into his Big Sur home in the lighthouse on August 1, 1889. He, along with three assistants, staffed it 24 hours a day. Their lives were anything but easy. They were isolated. The trip to Monterey was lengthy and treacherous – it wasn’t until the completion of Highway One, in 1937, that the trip became practical. Each family was provided with a garden area where they could grow fresh vegetables. Major supplies such as coal and firewood were delivered every few months. A horse and wagon was provided by the U.S. Lighthouse service so mail and other supplies could be secured from Pfeiffer’s Resort.

Life for Point Sur residents was a stoic exercise. Up until 1927, school was not a daily affair for most children. One of the early keepers, William Mollering, asked the school district for a lightstation teacher – they complied. The teacher lived with the head keeper’s family. In the same way Highway One opened easier access to the area, it also meant that two more schoolhouses were built in the 1940s, each a little more accessible to Big Sur families.

Worth a mention is the key component of every lighthouse: the lens. The original lens, the largest Fresnel lens manufactured, can be seen today in the Allen Knight Maritime Museum of Monterey. It was 18 feet tall, all told. The optic component weighed over 4,000 pounds. Light from this spectacular lens could be seen as far as 23 nautical miles away. It was in use until the 1970s, at which time a modern aero beacon replaced it.

Today, you can tour the Lighthouse, and if you have enough nerve, you can go on one of three ghost tours in the month of October. For more information about the Point Sur area and Lighthouse, please visit their website at http://www.pointsur.org/.

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Taking Time to Be Where You Are

Most human beings spend all our time as human doings. Just being somewhere without the compelling need to do something is not easy. Every so often a place or a special insight triggers a refreshing notion of “stop and just enjoy!”

One of my special places is the Lafayette Bakery in Carmel. As you enter you are greeted by a message that makes me smile and turn off my phone….

Lafayette Bakery

Another “place apart from others” is Big Sur. Only miles south of Carmel, yet light years from the normal day to day doings. Nature has a way of saying, “no wifi here, enjoy!”

Big Sur Marathon: “Running on the Ragged Edge of the World”

Runners in the Big Sur International Marathon are ready to run this Sunday! Start time begins 6:45 AM at the Big Sur Station and finishes at Rio Road at Highway One. There will be 13 aid stations along the course stocked with Gatorade and water, and fruit will be offered at all stations starting at mile 10.4. In addition to the Marathon, there will be five other races during the day- perfect for all athletic types.

A tradition for 29 years, the first Big Sur Marathon had 1,800 runners. Popularity and numbers running have exploded, with this year’s Marathon now sold out.

The Heinrich Team wishes all runners the best of luck!

Here’s a video Carole & I took of the Marathon course:

A Quiet Morning on Pfeiffer Beach

Relax and enjoy a quiet moment on Pfeiffer Beach. One of the very special places to be with your thoughts in Big Sur.

2013 Big Sur International Marathon

On April 28, our son Grant, and thousands of runners will enjoy the spectacular Big Sur coastline at this year’s Big Sur International Marathon. Good luck to all and enjoy our video of the course.

Coastal Storms

The coastline near Carmel is one of the most dramatic scenes in the world. Further south in Big Sur the Santa Lucia Range towers above the seascape creating an eternal tension between land and sea. Add to this backdrop a line of storms proceeding north from Big Sur. An amazing sight…..

Picture of the Week

The view from a previous listing at Ventana Mountain in Big Sur.

A Quiet Walk on Pfeiffer Beach

One of the most scenic beaches on the coast, Pfeiffer Beach is a wild, rugged area, remote and isolated. A wonderful place to be still and enjoy the beauty.

Big Sur International Marathon

On Saturday April 28, Carole and I videoed the entire race course from the starting line to the finish. Please enjoy this spectacular setting on California’s Scenic Highway 1 in Big Sur.

Big Sur – A View From the Edge

It is a stunning Friday afternoon on the Big Sur coast. I wanted you to see the rugged geography near the Rocky Creek Bridge from a vantage point not seen by the public. Imagine how difficult it was for the early homesteaders to travel

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on this wild coast.

Big Sur Chanterelle Festival – February 24 – 25

The 2012 Big Sur Chanterelle Cook-Off and Festival will be held on February 24 and 25 at The Ventana Inn and The Big Sur Lodge. Proceeds from the event will benefit the health and wellness programs at The Big Sur Health Center.

This annual event celebrates the unique natural wonders of Big Sur, the extraordinary culinary skill of 12 local chefs, world-class local vintners and brew masters, and the talents of local Big Sur artists.

Dinner at the Big Sur Bakery

Saturday night was special. Carole and I enjoyed dinner at the Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant and without question it was the best dining experience ever!! And ever covers lots of great restaurants in Northern California. Congratulations to owners Michelle, Philip and Mike. Your talents are amazing and appreciated. As they say at the Bakery, “come to your senses and slow down.” Amen