As spring starts to pop across the Golden State, the season feels especially welcome in Big Sur. The Monterey County gem has endured a tough season or two, with many businesses hunkered down during Highway 1 closures due to past fires and mudslides. But plenty of new life is blooming in Big Sur, thanks to recent re-openings of notable places to stay and eat—some looking better than ever—while the flora and fauna are embracing the season in robust fashion. Here are seven reasons to visit this spring:

 

1. Bask in the loveliness of Post Ranch Inn. During the Highway 1 road closures near the hotel, Post Ranch Inn was using helicopters to get guests to the hotel. The good news (especially if you aren’t the helicopter type) is that air transport is no longer necessary. You can also see what the bucket-list hotel did during its brief downtime—like updating some furnishings and opening a new photography gallery.

2. Do some world-class glamping. The temporary closure of the redwoods-surrounded resort Ventana Big Sur opened the way for some big renovations. Beyond the refresh for the 59 regular rooms and suites, you can now immerse yourself in the resort's natural setting by glamping in one of the 15 new tent cabins (some amongst the trees, others tucked away in the canyon). Sleep on a plush bed, freshen up in the Japanese-style bathhouse with teak-enclosed showers, and enjoy your wood-burning fire pit, a basket of s’mores goodies and electric lanterns—along with a few outlets and all-important USB ports.

3. Become a condor superfan. The Ventana Wildlife Society has long cultivated an environment for endangered California condors to thrive. According to the Society's site, two older resident condors are expecting little ones perhaps by late March. They’ve got a nest-cam going for the eggs in question, and they hold regular condor-watching tours through its Discovery Center.

4. Keep an eye out for whales. The gray whales are heading back toward the Arctic this time of year, and often pass by Big Sur in March and April, swimming with their pups fairly close to shore, to steer clear of sharks. You can spot them from various lookouts—including turnouts off Highway 1, and from the super-scenic Waterfall Overlook Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which has re-opened for limited day use (Bonus: The waterfall trail is also a good place to spot condors, perched in trees.)

5. Run (or at least watch) the Big Sur International Marathon. This year’s epic run along Highway 1 happens on April 29, and again includes the tradition of a tuxedo-clad pianist serenading runners along the Bixby Bridge. The actual marathon is sold out, but the 3K, 5K, and 12K options are still available as of press time.

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6. Do some wildflower hikes. California poppies and lupine dot many Big Sur hillsides in May and early June. Hike Garrapata State Park (the east side of which is closed, but the west side is open), to see poppies, wild irises, and Indian paintbrush; there’s also a whole section of white in the “Calla Lily Canyon,” off the coastal trail.

7. Enjoy some tacos. Big Sur’s foodie staples like Nepenthe, Big Sur Bakery, and Big Sur River Inn have gotten back to normal, but the road closures also inspired one newcomer: Big Sur Taco, the first (and still only) pop-up in town, which set up operations outside the Henry Miller Library. It’s still thriving, and open on weekends.