NEARLY NEIGHBORS: When describing California towns, and the distances that separate some of our favorite destinations, do you typically use the word "neighbor," even when citing two cities that aren't really in the same neck of the woods? It's a matter of perspective, when it comes to bandying about the term "neighbor," but bandy it about we shall when it comes to San Simeon and Big Sur. The two ocean-close locations aren't next door to each other, but, traditionally, both serve as popular stops for adventurers wending along Highway 1's craggiest, wowiest bits. Some of those wowiest bits are currently under construction, due to the wallop of a winter (that would be the winter of 2016-2017, which brought slides and other major road issues, including the construction of a new Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge). But a Big Sur legend, Post Ranch Inn, is connecting with a San Simeon legend, Hearst Castle, to give those guests eager to do both that chance, with a helicopter in the mix.
TRUE, Post Ranch Inn launched a from-the-north helicopter package in the spring, with guests boarding a helicopter in Monterey. This newer southerly package, which is available through Saturday, Oct. 7, involves a tempting first to-do: Lunch and a wine tasting Sebastian's Café and General Store at Hearst Ranch Winery. A private tour of Hearst Castle follows, and following that? A ride in a Lexus Hybrid vehicle to the Hearst Castle Pergola, where a helicopter awaits. After lift-off, how long is the flight to Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur? Thirty minutes, allowing for plenty of look-around, soak-in-the-surf-below time. You'll want to book for two (or more) nights at Post Ranch Inn, and bone up on all the to-knows about the luxe, limited-time package. As for calling Hearst Castle and Post Ranch Inn neighbors? Let's say they truly are, for consider their connective qualities: Both San Simeon and Big Sur are eternally bound to the Pacific, and the soft spirit of natural beauty, which are very neighborly and nice traits for two places to share.