For the 50+ Traveler

The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, released in 1975, featured Louise Fletcher as the antagonistic character of Nurse Ratched. The tyrannical nurse, rigid and focused on order, left many of us wondering about this fictional character’s life before McMurphy’s fate intertwined with Ratched’s. Where did she come from, and what might possibly have led to her tendencies?

Luckily for fans, the Ratched series released in 2020 tells the backstory of Mildred Ratched’s work at the asylum. Ratched is played by Sarah Paulson this time. The show is set in the town of Lucia, located in Monterey County, California. While filming took place in various parts of California, the main focus is on Lucia.

So catch up on the series if you haven’t seen it yet, then make plans to visit these six Ratched filming locations you can visit in real life.

1. Lucia

The show is set in the 1940s in Lucia, California, a small village south of Monterey. The town of Lucia is named for the surrounding Santa Lucia mountains. Located along notoriously beautiful and winding Highway 1, Lucia is a small community that consists of a hotel, restaurant, and gas station.

A view from iconic Lucia Lodge.

2. Sealight Inn, Lucia Lodge, Big Sur

In the first episode, we see Ratched check in at the Sealight Inn, where she will live during the series.

The Sealight Inn is actually Lucia Lodge constructed in the 1930s by the Harlan family and is still under management by 5th-generation Harlans. The motel features 10 cabins and rooms, set on a cliff 300 feet above the Pacific Ocean. The breathtaking views look over the bay from one direction and face the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other side. Adjacent to Highway 1, the hotel features a gift shop and an indoor or outdoor restaurant with a panoramic deck to enjoy the ocean views.

The rates aren’t cheap for what looks like a roadside motel, but considering there isn’t another hotel for miles, and the views are considered worth the price, it’s worth a visit to see where a significant part of where Ratched was filmed.

3. Toro Place Cafe, Salinas

During the first episode, Nurse Ratched stops on her way to Lucia at the Toro Place Cafe. Toro Place Cafe is a roadside stop that’s been a local favorite for more than 70 years. The location is small, but you can dine inside at a table or a row of bar stools or sit outside on the deck.

The Toro Place Cafe is a popular breakfast and lunch spot that serves American food in what used to be a gas station. They’re known for their El Toro Burger that features Ortega chili and jack cheese. The chili covers the plate so you’ll probably want to eat the burger with a fork. Or stop in for breakfast, but make sure you arrive before 11:30 a.m. when the small kitchen switches over to the lunch menu.

The Fish Hopper in Monterey.

4. The Fish Hopper, Cannery Row

Nurse Ratched and Gwendolyn Briggs (played by Cynthia Nixon) enjoy oysters at The Fish Hopper. In the second episode, the romantic setting above the water has Briggs feeding Ratched oysters by hand as they sip cocktails at the restaurant.

Located along Cannery Row, directly on the water’s edge, The Fish Hopper was once a sardine cannery building. Enjoy their award-winning clam chowder, certified Angus steaks, and plenty of sustainable seafood such as fresh Abalone from Monterey Bay. As part of their quest for serving sustainable seafood, The Fish Hopper partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

To create your own romantic dinner, start with the oysters as Ratched did, or try the luscious Dungeness Crab Stuffed Mushrooms topped with a lemon beurre blanc or their renowned clam chowder. For the main course, the Swordfish, broiled with artichoke hearts, spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and served with Yukon Gold potatoes in a saffron broth, is delicious. A simple yet succulent dessert is the Chocolate Mousse Cup, a chocolate shell with caramel on the bottom and topped with chocolate mousse.

5. Big Sur Grange Hall

In episode two, Briggs drives Ratched to a secluded women’s bar in the woods. The scene was shot at the Big Sur Grange Hall located in Big Sur. The Big Sur Grange’s California division of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, a fraternal organization, was established in 1948. The cabin served as a hub of community activity and was the ideal location for the clandestine meeting in the woods.

Bixby Creek Bridge on Highway 1.

6. Bixby Creek Bridge

The Bixby Creek Bridge makes an appearance as well. As Ratched drives into Lucia, wide shots show both the Bixby Creek Bridge as well as the Big Sur Coast. The scenery alone is why many people visit Monterey County each year.

One of the most photographed bridges in California, its pleasing design lends well to the atmosphere of the series and secures a sense of place. Also known as the Bixby Canyon Bridge, it consists of an open-spandrel arch bridge. The bridge opened in 1932 to alleviate road blockages on the sometimes impassable Old Coast Road during the winter months.

Pro Tips

Additional California filming locations include the King Gillette Ranch in Malibu Creek as the location for the exterior of the Lucia Estate Mental Hospital. The home of Lenore Osgood, played by Sharon Stone, was filmed at Dawnridge, the former home of Tony Duquette in Beverly Hills. There were multiple scenes filmed in Los Angeles at the San Pedro Municipal Building, Cole’s French Dip, Tony’s Saloon, Guido’s Restaurant, and Union Theatre, among others. The Adamson House in Malibu subbed as the hotel in Mexico at the end of Season 1.

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