Action | March 30, 2016 9:00 am

The 4-Hour Rule: Big Sur

Go for the Sea Otter Classic, stay for the sea otters

Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.

More than 75,000 people (and 400-plus exhibitors, ranging from 10 Speed Coffee to ZOIC Clothing) are expected to descend upon Monterey County for the Sea Otter Classic (April 14-17), touted as the cycling world’s biggest festival. Check out the pros, sign up for a recreational mountain bike ride through Fort Ord National Monument, hang out in the beer garden, demo a bike at the SRAM Skills Zone — if it’s fun and even tangentially involves a bike, you can do it here.

Pass through redwood groves on your way to Ventana Big Sur. Consider it a retreat from the festival madness — particularly inside the hotel’s spa and or Executive Chef Paul Corsentino’s The Restaurant at Ventana, with its super springtime-y menu: think baby beets (in salad form), artichokes (with piperade, parmesan, porcini and prosciutto vinaigrette) and seared foie gras, if you’re into that. Then there’s the nearly-500-square-foot Superior Hot Tub Suite.

The Sea Otter didn’t pluck its name out of thin air: the Internet’s favorite marine mammals are if not everywhere, then pretty easy to find and expectedly adorable. Check the Friends of the Sea Otter for more details, but you’ll want to consider heading to Moss Landing State Beach or several other, very specific spots in and around Big Sur. Big Sur is also famous for humpback whale spotting — but you’d likely have to stick around another month before they show up.