Travel Tuesday: An Hour-by-Hour Guide to a Day in Monterey

You can also find my article here on bayarea.com:

An Hour-by-Hour Guide to a Day in Monterey

Just an hour and a half away from San Francisco and San Jose, nestled along the coast, lies a stunning California beach town called Monterey. Monterey is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living and get in touch with nature, animals, and yourself. Unwind, turn off the electronics, and enjoy this little big town and all it has to offer.

7 a.m.: Since the drive is more than an hour away, head out early so you can make the most of your day and beat the traffic. If you don’t have a car, a car share program might be your best bet, as you’ll want to get around once you’ve arrived in Monterey.

8:30 a.m.: Head straight to the Red House Cafe in downtown Pacific Grove and order a filling breakfast in this beautiful and charming little red house on the corner. It’s so cute and quaint, you’ll feel like you’re at your grandparents’ house eating a meal.

9:30 a.m.: After breakfast, head to nearby Asilomar State Beach to walk off your meal and breathe in those cool ocean breezes as the waves come crashing in. You might just spot some whales in the distance, as well as seals and sea otters on the shore. As you walk along this gorgeous beach, keep an eye out for tidepools and the curiosities that lie within. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, take a 5-minute drive to the Lover’s Point State Marine Reserve to walk along this lovely little beach, rent a bike, go kayaking, or maybe even try surfing.

11:00 a.m.: Next, head to nearby Cannery Row to do some shopping and find yourself a souvenir, some jewelry, or just take in the sights as you snap some photos for the ‘gram. You can walk the entire row to check out where you’ll be eating because lunch is next.

12:00 p.m.: There are lots of delicious restaurants on Cannery Row, and you’ll find just about anything you could want here. If you’re looking for a big menu with local brew, head to the Cannery Row Brewing Company where they have 70 beers on tap, or trek to Hula’s Island Grill for some yummy Hawaiian/Polynesian food. And, of course, they have numerous seafood restaurants by the bay.

 

1:30 p.m.: After your lunch, stay in Cannery Row and head to the most infamous Monterey destination: the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Yes, it may be a bit (or a lot) touristy, but it’s worth braving the crowds to see what new exhibits they have.  You can easily spend the entire afternoon here (we won’t tell if you do)! There’s something magical about this place that will make you feel like a kid again.  

Pro tip: Skip the line by purchasing your tickets online before you go. They also offer some generous discounts so be sure to research beforehand. Lastly, if you get hungry, they have a pretty awesome cafeteria/cafe with delicious, sustainable food.

3:30 p.m.: Next, head to nearby Pacific Grove to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary where hundreds, if not thousands, of majestic monarch butterflies can be seen. They have specific times throughout the year when they can be seen the most, so I’d check their website for the best time of the year for viewings.

4:30 p.m.: Since you’re in Pacific Grove, hit the road and take the historic 17-mile drive. Take your time on the drive because you’ll pass many vista points where you’ll want to remember the views by snapping some photos.

5:30 p.m.: At the end of your drive, you’ll end up at the gorgeous Pebble Beach Golf Course. Stay for the sunset at the 18th hole, then have a drink inside the Tap Room at the legendary 19th hole. If you’re ready for dinner, the Tap Room serves a five-star dinner. They have an all-American menu, so you can choose from the sauteed Sand Dabs to the Kobe Brie Burger or even the Prime Rib. Yum!

Pro tip: “Resort attire” is required for the Tap Room, so you may want to keep an extra set of clothes in the car if you’ve been walking around in jean shorts and flip flops all day.

7:00 p.m.: After dinner and a few drinks, take a cab or Uber to Alvarado Street near Cannery Row and let loose. Here you’ll find many bars over a 13-block span that offer karaoke, live music, comedy, and more.

9:00 p.m.: Since Monterey is known for their stunning scenery, it’s time to make your way up to the rooftop of Hotel 1110 for one last breathtaking view of the Monterey Bay. The rooftop is open to the public, so you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the panoramic views. If you’re looking to end your day in the best possible way, I suggest any of their tropical cocktails. Enjoy your drink by the fire and under the string of Italian lights.

10:30 p.m.: Sadly, it’s time to head home. If you can, I highly suggest staying the night, and why not keep the fun going and stay in one of Hotel 1110’s 17 rooms? If it’s time to get back to the Bay Area, have your DD take you back, but don’t worry — there’s always next weekend!

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