Big Sur, California
By Andrew Rice
Before california 1, aka the coastal highway, opened in 1937, Helmuth "Grampa" and Helen "Grandma" Deetjen built a small home in Castro Canyon using lumber salvaged from Monterey's Cannery Row. Even then the wild Big Sur coast attracted intrepid tourists, and before long the Deetjens were hosting wayward travelers in spare rooms. Over the years their renowned hospitality evolved into a business, and today, long after the Deetjens passed away, the inn still reflects their eccentricities.
No two of the 20 rooms are alike. "Grampa's," for instance, has an antique pump organ and a record player with the Deetjens' personal collection of albums, and "Stokes" is a converted woodworking shop. Fifteen of the rooms contain private baths, and 11 have fireplaces. In 1990, the inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The true appeal of Deetjen's is its location in the heart of some of the best hiking, mountain biking, and paddling in California. Sea kayaking has become a particularly big draw, and two of the most popular launching points, Pfeiffer Beach and Andrew Molera Beach, are within 15 miles of the inn. (There are no rentals in the area, so bring your own boat.)
Just four miles north of Deetjen's is the Big Sur Station of the Los Padres National Forest (408-667-2315), jumping-off point for hikes through the 231,000-acre Ventana Wilderness along the 23-mile Pine Ridge Trail, as well as a great source of local wisdom, maps, and Big Sur guidebooks. Five miles farther north, Andrew Molera State Park is known for ocean-view mountain-bike routes, such the 2.6-mile Ridge Trail and the scenic Old Coast Highway, a 14-mile dirt road that cuts through large ranches and the Little Sur River Valley before culminating in a steep climb, with a view of the Pacific as the mother of all payoffs.
Rates at Deetjen's run from $50 per night for a single with shared bath to $150 for a double room with a private bath and fireplace. For reservations, call 408-667-2377.