Sometimes it’s the simple things. Here’s what Sunset staff have missed the most in the pandemic, and what we can’t wait to get back to as California opens back up.

Soaking, Hiking, Noshing: All the Things We’re Looking Forward to When Restrictions Are Lifted
Photographer: Iain Bagwell, Food Stylist: Erin Merhar, Prop Stylist: Mindi Shapiro

Today marks the day that many pandemic-related rules and restrictions are being lifted in California, and life lurches one step closer to normalcy. Let’s be clear about one thing, though. We know that “normal” doesn’t mean “exactly the way things used to be.” Too many lives have been lost, and too many businesses closed to pretend that we’re just going to pick up where we left off in March of 2020. And loosened restrictions don’t mean that we’re throwing caution to the wind. No mosh pits for us just yet. Nevertheless, today is a big day, and we’re looking forward to allowing a few treasured activities back into our lives. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

The Pause That Refreshes

Pause Float Tank

Pause Studio

I have barely touched a stranger since February of 2020, when simple things like handshakes and high fives last seemed like a good idea. I had a single pedicure back in November, and one masked massage when my back gave out in April. So on the top of the to-do list once the restrictions are lifted is to get back into some kind of respectable personal care routine. To unravel the intense stress of the last year, I’m going to start by jumping into one of these Float Orbs at the new Pause Studio in West Hollywood. I’ve been told that flotation therapy speeds muscle recovery, fixes your posture after a long work week, improves circulation, and mimics the effects of a deep meditation. I could use a dose of all of this. I may skip the whale sounds and just float in utter silence. Remember silence? That thing that happened when you were in the house alone sometimes, many moons ago? Yeah, I don’t either. But I’m hoping an hour in one of these futuristic tanks might jog my memory. —Christine Lennon, home and design editor

Walk It Off

Pacific Crest Trail, OR

James Dustin Parsons / Getty Images

This week, with the ability to travel safely once again, I will be heading to Portland, Oregon on my first backpacking trip. I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with a group of women, and couldn’t be more excited and nervous all at the same time. I can’t wait to set the mood for the summer of 2021 by accomplishing goals that I’ve been putting off. A year and a half into the pandemic, I am ready to get back into the saddle and start checking moments off my bucket list. —Teaghan Skulszki, editorial intern

Nose to the Rose

The Huntington Rose Garden

Christine Bobbish

Earlier this year I visited The Huntington for the first time. The galleries and cafes were closed but with 14 gardens to stroll, pressing pause on art viewing was not a problem. The Gutenberg Bible and Gainsborough could wait! Still, strolling through the Rose Garden and being able to lean into the roses, feel my face touch the blooms, and inhale their varying scents was something I missed greatly. But not for long. Now that California is reopening, our contact at The Huntington anticipates they will allow visitors to enter mask-free in the very near future, possibly as early as June 16. Please check their website for the latest information. Tickets for The Huntington are released every 2 weeks on Tuesdays at noon. The next ticket release is June 15. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor

Pancakes, with a Side of Normalcy

Buttermilk Pancakes

Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Randy Mon

I’ve missed restaurants. Recently I’ve realized, somewhat to my surprise, that the specific restaurant experience that I miss most of all just might be breakfast. While my household sometimes goes out for socially distanced lunch and dinner, we don’t generally bother with the pants and the shoes and the leaving the house just to sit outside and eat breakfast in the cold. And have you ever had a waffle delivered? It doesn’t matter how crisp-fluffy it is coming out of the iron; it’s foam rubber by the time the delivery guy leaves it on your doorstep. So enough with the tepid griddle items. Soon—maybe not tomorrow but almost certainly this weekend, my wife and I are going to plop ourselves down in a tufted vinyl booth. We’re going to have hot eggs and cold melon slices. The waitress will call me “hon” and she’ll never let me see the bottom of my coffee cup. There will be pancakes still light and puffy from the griddle and they’ll taste a little like the bacon that was fried next to them and a lot like normalcy. —NC

A few favorite Bay Area breakfast/brunch spots that I’m looking forward to:

Plow (San Francisco) The breakfast sandwiches. OMG, the breakfast sandwiches.

Mama’s on Washington Square (San Francisco) My first Bay Area apartment was around the corner, and it’s still a favorite a quarter of a century on.

Brown Sugar Kitchen (Oakland) We like their food so much we begged and pleaded for Tanya Holland’s waffle recipe.

Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café (Emeryville) There might be better pancakes, but there’s no better background music.

Sam’s Log Cabin (Albany) The chilaquiles. OMG, the chilaquiles.

Keep Reading: