Vampire Diaries' Paul Wesley on Camping and 'Becoming a Man of the Land' in Quarantine

The New Jersey native reveals he's been honing his outdoorsy roots this year: "I try to get as much vitamin D as possible in a natural way"

Although he didn't know it at the time, frequent camping trips throughout his childhood gave Paul Wesley an early appreciation for the great outdoors.

"I grew up camping with my father. You'd camp, and then you'd go white water rafting during the day," the New Jersey native, 38, tells PEOPLE in this year's Sexiest Man Alive issue. "Now I'm so grateful [for that experience], because all I want to do is go camping. During this pandemic I've gone many, many times."

The Tell Me a Story actor says the more remote the location, the better.

"I don't want any noise, I want the full camping experience," he says. "I'm really big on just going anywhere in the mountains and getting a cabin, but in the spring and summer, camping is such a huge part of life."

SMA a change in scenery - paul wesley
Paul Wesley. Jonny Marlow

Wesley, who is featured in the "Change of Scenery" act in this year's Sexiest Man Alive issue, admits that he isn't really a wellness regimen type, but he is very active.

  • For more on Paul Wesley and the sexiest men in Hollywood, click here and pick up PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive issue, on stands Friday (or subscribe)!

"I try to get as much vitamin D as possible in a natural way," he says. "Now I surf, I go hiking, I do mountain biking. Another big thing is I started a veggie garden. I'm kind of becoming a man of the land."

Wesley says he feels grateful that he was able to stay safe and healthy in quarantine, with wife Ines de Ramon and their new rescue dog, Gregory.

"I'm in a fortunate position where I was able to take a break, and it was so important for me to do it," he says. "For me, I reset. I recalibrated. Kind of realized what was important to me, reprioritized my life."

He also rediscovered a campfire classic: "I know this sounds basic, but baked beans are amazing. They're so underrated!" he says. "I don't understand why people don't eat baked beans more often."

Looking ahead to 2021, Wesley is finally launching his Brother's Bond bourbon, which he started and co-created with former Vampire Diaries costar and real-life friend Ian Somerhalder.

"The other thing that happened during this whole quarantine/pandemic is, my ex-costar from my previous show Vampire Diaries, Ian Somerhalder and I, we decided to start our own bourbon," explains Wesley. "We drank bourbon on the show. That was sort of the staple of the series, for those who haven't seen it, and we drink bourbon too, we love bourbon, and we bonded over bourbon, so [we decided to] start a bourbon company."

Wesley and Somerhalder's "real labor of love" should be available in February 2021.

"It's been so fun. This is something that we created," says Wesley. "It's not just like, 'Oh, we're putting our names on it.' This is our baby. We created this mash, this taste, everything. The name, the label. I mean, we did everything. I'm just excited. And I hope it takes off the way that we think it will."

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