Monterey area recommendations from a local

I’ve had quite a few emails lately requesting recommendations on things to do in the Monterey area, so I figured I’d put a post together for you guys.

First, if you are planning a trip to Monterey, you have made a fantastic life decision. I hope you love the beach, incredible views, great food & wine and outdoors.

Welcome to paradise!!

Things to do:

  • Hike Point Lobos. Park outside the park along Highway 1 and walk in to save a couple bucks. The hikes I’ve done have been pretty easy and very scenic. Like my mind is blown every time I go. 
  • GO TO BIG SUR. This is a must. Stop at the Bixby Bridge to take in the sights and some pics. Heading there from Monterey, park across the street in the dirt (on the left) that’s where the bridge is most scenic IMO. Of course very carefully walk across the 1 and check it out from there as well.
  • Hike Garrapata. It is magical.
  • Take the Ocean exit off the 1 and check out Carmel By The Sea. It’s charming and if you keep heading west, you will end up at Carmel Beach. Sooooo pretty much paradise. It’s an off leash dog beach so you might see Bam peeing on someones backpack or chilling on a blanket with some family he just weaseled his way into. (Bam is a sucker for blankets)
  • Walk the trail from 8th Avenue & Scenic Drive south to River State Beach. It’s about 1.5 mile one way. You can always drive it, but really you need to do this! I’ve lived here for 2 years and drive/walk it often it’s really that beautiful.
  • If it’s your first time here, check out the touristy hot spots like Fisherman’s Wharf & Cannery Row. Then head north (kinda west towards the ocean) to Ocean View for a beautiful drive along the coast. Stop at Lovers Point or Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove for a picnic or just to chill.
  • 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. The gate fee is $10 and I highly recommend driving it. You can ride a bike, but I would NEVER recommend that. It’s a 2 lane road and scares the crap outta me when I see folks riding because there are hills and blind corners. If you’re short on time, be sure to stop at Ghost Tree & The Lone Cypress, which is the logo for Pebble Beach Golf.
  • If you’re running Big Sur or just want to relax & unwind, check out Refuge in Carmel Valley. It is worth every penny.

Beer, wine & food:

Let me start by saying I am not a foodie at all, so maybe Google around.

  • La Bicyclette in Carmel By The Sea is our absolute favorite place to dine. Hands down their pizza owns my heart.
  • Mike suggests Cannery Row Brewery in Monterey.
  • Rosines on Alvarado Street in Monterey for American Classic entrees.
  • Corkscrew in Carmel Valley, which is owned by La Bicyclette.
  • The Breakfast Club in Seaside.
  • Sushi By The Bay. I’m not a huge fan of sushi, but Mike & our co-workers recommend it and Lu was a regular there last summer, so it must be good.
  • Spanish Bay Golf course at sunset for cocktail hour while bagpipers play. I’ve never been, it’s on my list of things to do, but tons of folks love it. There are also a few restaurants there as well.
  • Stave Wine Tasting room at Spanish Bay. It’s brand new, so I haven’t tried it, but if you’re in the area maybe pop in.
  • Clint Eastwoods Mission Ranch for Sunday brunch. Not cheap, but really great food & views.
  • Wine tasting in Carmel Valley. It’s got an old western feel, friendly folks and tons of wine tasting rooms. There’s a trolley that leaves from Monterey as well.

Other tips:

  • Bay Bikes for rentals.
  • Hashtag restaurants/points of interest on Instagram for pics & ideas. One that is on my list is #mcwayfalls in Big Sur. The pics are incredible.
  • My Instagram account has a lot of pics from local adventures. Leave a comment if you have questions.
  • Adventures By The Sea or Monterey Bay Kayaks for SUP/kayak/boogie board/watersport rentals.
  • The Recreation Trail for a run/walk/ride. It goes through Fisherman’s Wharf and north towards Seaside/Moss Landing.
  • I don’t have recommendations for hotels or places to stay since I live here, but if you need some direction on locations or distance to nearby things you want to do, leave me a comment and I’ll help ya out.
  • I love you, but I’m still not telling you where my favorite beach is. 😉

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Pic above & below were taken on the Recreation Trail.

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Sunday brunch at Mission Ranch in Carmel.

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Carmel River State Beach.

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Along 17 Mile Drive from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach.

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Refuge Spa in Carmel Valley.

Please reach out if you have any comments, questions or recommendations in the comment section.

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4 Comments on “Monterey area recommendations from a local

    • Oh gosh all year has been incredible lately. Not sure if it’s the El Nino effect. Generally the summer months are foggy. I highly recommend September & October. Less fog, warmer weather (70’s & 80’s), peak tourist season is over & incredible sunsets.

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