Photography by Sara Essex Bradley
We can't stop you from kicking back and relaxing in your hotel room, but we can try. These 25 activities will ake your time in Monterey more memorable. Go and explore!
1) Coastal Trail That Promotes Slow Travel
It's the hidden thoroughfare of Monterey: a paved, 18-mile trail stretching mostly along the ocean, from Pacific Grove in the south to Castroville in the north. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail skirts by Victorian mansions and seals and top stops like Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. But because you walk along the trail, bike it, or pedal a surrey, you can soak your vacation in slowly.
A Pint Glass That's Half Full ... Constantly
Craft beer is the eagle that has landed everywhere, including Monterey. New breweries in the region are unleashing innovations, and beer bars are pouring a smorgasbord of flavors. This is a very happy situation indeed.
2) Post No Bills
To try rare bottles and local finds, this revamped warehouse fulfills. In deference to Sand City's artistic roots, the bar's walls are tattooed - or rather, a local tattoo artist painted them.
Sand City, postnobills.net
3) Alvarado Street Brewery
Soaring ceilings and vintage tiled floors are relics of the century-old Regency Theatre. The brewery opened in 2014. It barrels 10 beers.
4) Peter B's Brewpub
The grandpappy of breweries, Peter B's, which opened in 1996, has gotten more exciting this year, with rotating firkin casks, a selection of hop-forward brews, and a menu of delicious burgers.
JUNE - Monterey County Beer Week, a part of the Monterey County Beer Festival, keeps thirst at bay. montereybeerfestival.com
5) The Other Side of Pebble Beach. No Iron Needed.
Driving Pebble Beach is epic. But swap out a bucket seat for real horsepower at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. Expert guides gallop, or canter, into the green Del Monte Forest then along the blue sea. On the agenda are the landmark stops of The Lone Cypress and Bird Rock. You'll also get to peek at famous courses and hear tales of Pebble Beach homeowners past. Several types of rides are available to book. Beginners are welcome.
Pebble Beach, pebblebeach.com
6) The Jellies That Make A Meal
Photo Courtesy Sierra Mar
Just when you thought eating uni (eel) or chapulines (grasshoppers) was deserving of a culinary medal, along comes jellyfish. The invertebrate, at the hands of chef John Cox at Big Sur's Sierra Mar, melts in your mouth. Demand is soaring.
Big Sur, postranchinn.com/dining
7) The Tour Bus That Wouldn't Even Bore A Hipster
Movies and Monterey are like bread and butter: More than 200 have been shot around the peninsula. See some of the familiar places where scenes from Play Misty for Me, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 version) were shot with Monterey Movie Tours. The three-hour tour is a quirky way to get to know Monterey, learn a little about film history, and watch movie clips.
Art Galleries Creating A Buzz
What pairs well with art? These galleries are making some good guesses.
8) Abstract Art + Contemporary Canvases + California Evoo + Balsamic Vinegars from Modena + Wine Tastings = Trio Carmel
9) Erin Hunter Illustrations + Rachael Short and Jerry Takigawa Photography + Reds and Whites from Aroyo Seco and Carmel Vineyards = Chesebro Wines
Carmel Valley, chesebrowines.com
10) Urban Art + Graffiti + Neil Kirkpatrick Murals + Painting Classes + Ciders & Beers = Valley Greens Gallery
Carmel Valley, 831-620-2985
AUGUST - Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series has such a stunning location at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in the redwoods that one might fi nd watching the actual shorts distracting. bigsurfilm.org
11) The Real Scoop on American Tin Cannery
When the "Sardine Capital of the World" was in full swing, Ocean View Avenue was a street of fish. In the same 1927 building where the tin sardine cans were pressed is the best ice cream on Planet Monterey. Kai Lee Creamery, one of many shops in the American Tin Cannery, scoops flavors like stout ice cream, using Peter B's beer; apple pie made with home-baked apples; root beer, using local label Sparky's; and blueberry (real, of course).
Pacific Grove, kaileecreamery.com
12) A Golf Game on a Dime
Or 300 dimes. Still. For $30 for the entire day, the Peter Hay Golf Course at Pebble Beach is a well-kept secret, considering that the green fees at the resort's more famed courses hover much higher.
Pebble Beach, pebblebeach.com
A Dairy Farm Revival
13) Dairy farm buildings are finding a second life. The tasting room at Cima Collina is in a 19thcentury structure and pays its dues to the cow (photo above).
Carmel Valley, cimacollina.com
14) The restaurant at Mission Ranch is 1800s ranchlands transformed by Clint Eastwood into a resort. Special events are held in the former milking barn.
15) Palomas Home Furnishings deals in decor in a 1932 building with the original dairy lamp still hanging over the door.
The Rise of the Italians
The stone fireplace in Il Vecchio is a 1950s classic.
Monterey's Italian roots go way back, tied to the fishing industry. As expected, dishes from the homeland proliferated. The Italians here today are still sharing their favorite plates.
A family affair, the eclectically designed space of Il Vecchio is run by Carl Alasko whose kitchen pumps out Roman classics like pasta carbonara. His daughter carved the tables and the bar herself.
Pacific Grove, ilvecchiorestaurant.com
The charming La Balena approaches meal-making like a Tuscan nonna. Chef Brad Briske visits fishermen, farmers, and fields daily, then butchers, bubbles, and braises, turning out bruschetta with chicken liver and gorgonzola, steak seasoned with sea salt and olive oil, and wild boar pappardelle. This hard-to-snag-a-rez resto now has a laid-back off shoot, Il Grillio, with a deli case, pastas, and salami.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, labalenacarmel.com; ilgrillocarmel.com
Run by brothers Giuseppe and Salvatore Panzuto, Il Tegamino cooks up authentic Napoli primi like spaghetti in a white wine and garlic sauce, heaping with shellfi sh (pescatore). Polpette, though, is an art form. Six different choices of these meatballs come topped with ragu. There's even a vegetarian caulifl ower and black olive option.
- Il Vecchio (VE-kee-o), old
- La Balena (ba-LAYnah), the whale
- Il Tegamino (teg-a-MEE-know), small cooking pans
- Il Grillio (gree-YEE-o), the cricket
19) The Blue Serengeti
The sea life in Monterey Bay is unparalleled. Your safari checklist might include sea lions, elephant seals, sea otters, dolphins (bottlenose, Risso's, long-beaked common), and many whales (blue, gray, humpback, orcas, minke). For tips of what to see and when, refer to our beach cheat sheet x 2. To get out there, the marine-biologist-owned Monterey Bay Whale Watch runs trips year-round that vary in length.
20) Carmel Valley High-Noon Style
The Wild West hasn't vanished. To locate it, hit up Carmel Valley and keep your eyes peeled for Cowboy Pete. The local character nearing the big 8-0 wears a Stetson, a rodeo buckle, and ostrich boots, coaxing people to ride with him on his tractor-pulled wagon. He's pretty convincing with his dog as a sidekick. The quirky tasting room at Cowgirl Winery - complete with chickens, stemless glasses, and pizza - celebrates cowboy ladies. The wines are a casual off shoot from Georis Winery.
Carmel Valley, cowgirlwinery.com
21) The Wharf Ramble and Cannery Crawl
Kick off your morning with calamari at LouLou's Griddle in the Middle.
People wander to the famous Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail for fresh air, for cardio, and for pushing yourself to the limits. Then there are some who come to stuff up with seafood. Here are stops to hit up for a seafood stroll.
Scales Seafood & Steaks
You gotta go for the cioppino-for-two perched over the water. scalesmonterey.com
Old Fisherman's Grotto
The clam chowder here is legendary, as is the view. oldfishermansgrotto.com
Schooner's Coastal Kitchen
Located in Monterey Plaza Hotel, Schooner's has a knockout view paired with seafood platters on the half shell for two. schoonersmonterey.com
The Fish Hopper
The calamari, and all other fish, are sustainably caught at this restaurant that neighbors the aquarium. fishhopper.com
The Sardine Factory
Who's up for the chocolate sardines on the dessert menu? They come in a tin can. sardinefactory.com
Prove Your Seafood-Worthiness
Guess where to find squiddles and eggs, joined by a calamari steak - all for breakfast. Squiddles and eggs rule. loulousgriddle.com
Happy Hour Bonus
Indulge in little bites of fried artichokes, ahi nachos, and shrimp tacos at Chart House at reasonable prices. chart-house.com/ locations/monterey
The Hangouts Of Future John Steinbecks
If Monterey literary hero John Steinbeck were alive today, we imagine he'd be doing readings at one of these indie bookstores.
is perfect for soaking in the lit culture and people watching. The front is busy coffee shop; the back, books stacked on shelves, with local authors represented.
Pacific Grove, bookworkspg.com
23) Pilgrim's Way
selects books that you probably wouldn't have found no matter how hard you tried. We like to call it "mind opening." Plus, the Secret Garden is an oasis where you can buy gifts and hear authors speak. Carmel-by-the-Sea, pilgrimsway.com
24) One of the few used bookstores surviving in Monterey Bay, Old Capitol Books stocks a deep selection on many topics.
JULY - California Rodeo Salinas, the largest in state and one of the top 20 in the nation, is where authentic cowboys come to compete and clowns entertain. carodeo.com
Carmel isn't quite Venice, Italy, but there are definitely times when you may get turned around in the passageways - and, that'll be a good thing.
25) The 42 Passageways
Ocean Avenue may be one of the most visited pieces of pavement in the region. You can't fault a street that dead ends at the Pacific. It also has plenty of narrow passageways leading to the unexpected, such as courtyards with fountains, well-tended garden patches, and historic buildings.