Monterey is one of the many diamonds in California’s well adorned coastal crown. You can see why this region touts the tagline, Grab life by the moments.
Similarly, Monterey is one of those destinations that reconnects you with yourself. Besides its breathtaking natural beauty there is an abundance of activities on offer.
Read on for my ultimate guide to Monterey
What to do
Take some time to wander historic Cannery Row, Once the sardine capital of the world. Now, this waterfront avenue is replete with hotels, restaurants and boutiques. If you wander to the edge of the ocean at the end of the row, you will find yourself at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Famous for its regional focus on marine habitats.
Spend some time cruising 17 Mile Drive from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach. Renowned for its four golf courses, with the Links being one of the most beautiful in the world. No drive is complete without stopping off at The Lone Cypress which has stood atop its rocky podium for more than 250 years. There are a host of other picture perfect vantage points along the way (17 to be exact), which I’ll leave you to joyously discover.
If you’re anything like me, You will most likely be thirsty after your leisurely drive. I urge you to continue on to the romantic village of Carmel by The Sea. This one square mile of perfection is overflowing with galleries, boutiques, restaurants and most importantly, wine tasting rooms. Here you can taste alluring wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands, for example, my favourite cellar is Caraccioli Cellars.
Lastly, I suggest packing up a picnic and strolling down the street for sunset on the white sands, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Another day brings another dazzling drive for you to take on.
The road to Big Sur is one of the most memorable in America. The Santa Lucia Mountains rise up 5000 feet from the river gorge while native California redwoods tower above you. Make sure you indulge in lunch at Nepenthe Restaurant, It boasts spectacular views over the area.
There are some other fantastic stops along the way such as Point Lobos, where you can hike or take in the dramatic sea views from the cliffs. Next, It’s time to pullover and get your shot of the iconic Bixby Bridge.
Where to eat
In my early career, I cut my teeth in hospitality, and it instilled a passion for food and beverage in me like no other. When I travel, finding outstanding places to eat and drink is always at the top of my list.
Montrio Bistro tops my list of venues to experience in Monterey. Being a green certified restaurant you know their dishes are seasonally inspired and all produce sourced is sustainable. Go with a group and order it all, You will want to try as much as you can… Especially their mouthwatering 48 hour bacon.
Paluca Trattoria, nestled cosily on the wharf, has sweeping views of the bay. If you’re a fan of the HBO show Big Little Lies, You will recognise the scene instantly from where the girls regularly met for lunch. The food is as delectable as the view, I find myself still dreaming of the meatballs and pastas.
Alvarado Street Brewery is the place to visit if you’re after a gastropub, with locally sourced fare. They brew their own beers on site and you can kick back and sample these within the brewery, on the shaded sidewalk overlooking Alvarado Street or in their beer garden out back. Make sure you pair your beer with their queso dip and pretzels before going all in on the Alvarado burger.
Where to stay
Within walking distance of Cannery Row and downtown, you will find Hotel Pacific. The property is all suites which are delightfully oversized.
Intercontinental The Clement Monterey is my pick of properties along the waterfront. Imagine, Cloaking yourself in the white fluffy robe, brewing your morning Nespresso and watching the glowing sun rise over the bay from your private balcony.
The Portola Hotel & Spa is a fun, nautical inspired addition for families. They engage the kids with their Portola Pirate Program to keep them entertained.
If backpacking is more your style, there is one hostel with near perfect feedback, The HI Monterey.
How to get here
The most common way to arrive in Monterey is by car on Highway 1, known as America’s number one road trip. A two hour drive from San Francisco and five hours from Los Angeles makes it the perfect place to break your trip.
Monterey has a regional airport which serves direct flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Las Vegas and Denver.
If you’re travelling by train, Amtrak stops in nearby Salinas and has a free thirty minute bus into Monterey. Greyhound also has a bus service to Salinas with connecting bus to deliver you to Monterey.
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