camping setup

Photo courtesy of Alila Ventana Big Sur

How to Pack for
the Great Outdoors

Created with Eddie Bauer

In terms of camping, hiking, biking, and all manner of adventuring, few places deliver quite like California’s Big Sur and its Pacific Northwest neighbor Seattle. The two destinations fall under the same geologic umbrella (grab one of these—depending on the season, it can get wet around these parts), with national parks, hot springs, and mountains galore. Here, a much-deserved moment in the sun for both. And for you: ready-for-anything suitcase fodder.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington Seattle, Washington

Stay: Let the Sorrento—Seattle’s oldest, grandest, most storied hotel—serve as a home base from which to explore this pocket of the Pacific Northwest. But here’s the thing: While the city’s landmarks, public spaces, and bountiful trails (challenging enough to justify a suitcase full of Eddie Bauer) are a stone’s throw away, the hotel’s plush guest rooms (no two are alike), broody-slash-romantic nooks, and fantastic food can make it difficult to leave its warm embrace. With that
said, definitely leave—there’s much to see…and
eat, and do.

Eat: For an early dinner (which might become a late dinner because this popular spot doesn’t take reservations), head to the Walrus and the Carpenter. The menu is heavy on seafood, starring plump, briny oysters. Washington is brimming with naturally bivalve-friendly waters, and this casual spot is the place to take advantage of the bounty. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves—first, lunch: On weekends, Pablo y Pablo is open all day (as opposed to just dinner and an epic happy hour on weekdays) for tacos and tequila.

Do: Is it cliché to say that hiking is Washingtonians’ preferred pastime? Maybe. Is it true? You bet your boots it is. An hour or so outside Seattle, you’ll find Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, a moderate five-mile out-and-back hike with views of Mount Si and Mount Washington. Below, Rattlesnake Lake is just right for a cooling dip. Meanwhile, Golden Gardens Park on Puget Sound has a little bit of everything: beaches, trails, fishing, and more.

Photos courtesy of Hotel Sorrento, Feed It Creative, Annie Park, Dorothée Brand, Geoffrey Smith Photos

images of Seattle, Washington
  • view of hotel
    hotel room interior
    assortment of tacos
    chefs working
    view of sunset
    raw oysters

    Big Sur, California

    Big Sur, California Big Sur, California

    Stay: This stretch of California’s central coast is the stuff of literary legend (see: Kerouac, Miller, Steinbeck). All jagged cliffs and dramatic redwoods, it’s a vibe that appeals to avid hikers, wellness enthusiasts, and honeymooners alike. Coincidentally, the luxury (very luxury) campground at Ventana Big Sur accommodates all three: The tricked-out tents are conveniently located near some of the best trails in the area and come with personal firepits, rustic accoutrements, and the kind of buttery bedding made for sleeping in…or not doing much sleeping at all. Note: No kids allowed.

    Eat: Like the area itself, local restaurants serve a healthy helping of history with every dish. Deetjen’s seemingly untouched dining rooms are where tourists and locals alike have been going for home-cooked dinners since the 1930s; more recently, it’s started serving breakfast burritos in the magical outdoor courtyard. And Big Sur Bakery is the spot for light bites and carb-loading prehike (pastry chef Raquel Bagatini baked at NYC’s Balthazar before moving west) or dinner inspired by local, seasonal produce posthike.

    Do: You don’t need much in the way of a set itinerary here. Pick a local, ask for their favorite hiking trail or beach spot, and go. If you plan ahead, make sure the storied Esalen Institute is on the schedule. While you should book a stay to enjoy everything this palpably spiritual place has to offer, nonguests can call ahead to inquire about à la carte massages and the Healing Arts center. Then there are the hot springs. The folks at Esalen usually allow anyone to reserve a dip between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., though due to COVID, a call ahead to double-check is a good idea.

    Photos courtesy of Alila Ventana Big Sur, @stephanielewisphotography

    Big Sur, California
  • outdoor tent
    view of ocean
    outdoor trail
    grassy fields

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