Monterey; the word itself rolls off the tongue like a single varietal, oak barrel aged, full bodied California Cabernet. A trip to Monterey County is a smorgasbord of blissful entertainment encountered in charming enclaves, coveted like precious gems, nestled deeply into pockets of golden hills and lush mountains of California’s central coast. Time is deferent here.
A curvy jaunt on California’s central coast highways 1, 101 and 68 unveil the splendidly indigenous mural of Monterey County, through passages of mammoth sleepy hills, where it would appear ancient, weary beasts stopped to hibernate, settled on their haunches, finally gave in to slumber, and were covered with centuries old sand and vegetation. Monterey Bay spans the coastline to the west, while to the east, fresh farmland is flanked by charming bungalows and colonial-style homes nestled in cypress, pine and eucalyptus covered foothills.
Begin your trek from the north with the flat wetlands of Elkhorn slough and Moss Landing fishing port, then head south through Carmel Highlands, past gorgeous rugged coastline to Big Sur, where breathtaking faces of sunbaked cliffs jut into swirling tourmaline-azure sea. Open the windows or drop the top and allow salty air to wash over your face as you enjoy the famous 17-mile drive from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, where rocky bluffs protruding into jade-blue swells and eddies—laced generously in swirls of heady foam—are punctuated with large crops of cappuccino, triple cream-topped ocean rock. Wispy, fishbone clouds stretch over a clear blue sky that hovers gently above splendidly wooded hills and mountains. The first-class journey is studded with famous historic landmarks, including The Lone Cypress, Fanshell Overlook, Spanish Bay, Point Joe, and the Lodge at Pebble Beach. The Journey can be tailored to begin from the east or from southern California.
Naturalists will love roads, hills and valleys richly condensed in pine trees, canopies of cypress and hillside oaks. Allow your eyes to take in the panoramic beauty like a feast. The narrow of HWY 1 is flanked with Red-hot poker, with its bursting starfish-like leaf clusters, from which jut long stems topped with torches of canary yellow, brilliant orange and lava red, Echium, with its rich blue spear-like blooms, a vanguard of succulent ice plant donning multi-colored lances hoisting gorgeous yellow and purple flowers, all engulfed in gorgeous fuchsia groundcover. A self-contained wildlife sanctuary, Monterey County is a natural exhibit where wild deer, geese, ducks, doves, egrets, owls, Red-tailed hawks, foxes, and other wildlife, confined to zoos in other cities, frolic, undisturbed by their human counterparts. A trip to Monterey County is truly an awe-inspiring experience that all but overwhelms the senses.
An endless string of summer festivals pack herds of people into the streets of historic Cannery Row, Monterey Fairgrounds, Big Sur, Pacific Grove, Carmel and other arenas, to enjoy world class musical entertainment, outdoor theatre, food, arts and crafts appreciation, in good company. Though the infamous Monterey Blues Festival went bankrupt in 2012, you can’t miss the annual Jazz Festival, California Roots Festival, Whalefest Monterey, Big Sur Food and Wine Festival, live theatre in Carmel, Taste of Monterey—Monterey Cannery Row’s 2nd largest wine market and bistro annual attraction, The Monterey Zoo, and countless small, regularly-scheduled family oriented events such as the weekly Old Monterey Market Place—a street-wide open air market place offering fresh, local produce, plants, crafts, cooked delicacies, delicious confections, baked goods, and an abundance of other activities coaxed by rhythmic provisions of local fanfare.
Monterey Bay is well-known for marine life watching, including the Humpback Whale, the Grey Whale, Orcas, dolphins, otters, seals, sharks and other sea life. In November 2013 a large pod of about 20 Orcas entered the bay, attracted by a gigantic school of anchovies . A trip down Cannery Row, lovingly coined by John Steinbeck, is a fun family encounter where the energetic present merges with Monterey’s rich historic past. Visit excellent restaurants, shops, the Fisherman’s Wharf and the world-famous Monterey Aquarium.
Activities are limited only by imagination, and include site seeing, whale and other wildlife-watching and fishing tours, world-class golf, biking, hiking, running events, kayaking, surfing, spas, world-class dining, shopping, and much more. Planning a special event, such as a wedding? Only an original Monet could eclipse the gorgeous photographs from a wedding overlooking the gorgeous bluffs, over which settles tangerine, berry pink and lithe blue skies spilling into the soothing churn of Monterey Bay.
Motorsports enthusiast? Get your motor running with a quick trip to Laguna Seca to participate in crowd appreciation at annual events, such as the Continental Monterey Grand Prix, the Ferrari Challenge, FIM Superbike World Championship and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Golf enthusiasts be sure to reserve your t-time, stay, spa and dinner at renowned Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, Del Monte or Pacific Grove golf courses. As for a place to lay your head, well, choices range from inexpensive motel rooms to lavish ocean view rental homes.
Restaurants in Monterey County are endowed with fresh fish, succulent local and regional oysters and other shellfish, along with local wild game and sun-ripened organic vegetables from the rich, fertile valleys of Monterey County. Relish delicious, award-winning meals for every discriminating palette, including seafood, Italian, French, and Asian cuisine. Enjoy superb, award-winning concoctions, such as duck-breast Escabeche, Saffron-Parsnip puree and Escargot Risotto served up by Mundaka in Carmel. Try the famous family burger, Grandad’s hot turkey san, Junior’s homemade lasagna, Teacup’s calamari steak sandwich, Mama’s shrimp Louie, Pop’s roasted turkey Rueben and Uncle Mack’s New York steak sandwich at Rosine’s Restaurant in Monterey. Enjoy French classics such as steamed mussels, escargots de Bourgogne in garlic butter, and signature duck a l’orange at Fifi’s Bistro Café in Pacific Grove. .
Start planning your Monterey Bay vacay with the city of Monterey website: (www.monterey.org).
Written by: Dawn Henderson, RolandWrite Copywriting Services. www.rolandwrite.com