15 Dreamy Issues To Do In Monterey and Carmel As A Couple

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California holds a lot magnificence and the easiest way to understand its rugged shoreline and massive waves is to drive down the Pacific Coast Freeway. The picturesque stretch hugs the Monterey Peninsula, threading by means of the historic Monterey and the fairytale city of Carmel-by-the-Sea earlier than connecting with the jaw-dropping Massive Sur. This romantic drive is among the greatest cross nation street journey routes that {couples} should take collectively!

big sur california

When you’re seeking to prolong your city journey within the huge metropolis of San Francisco, now we have some nice concepts for you. On this submit, we take you with us on a California street journey, discovering the dreamiest issues to do in Monterey and Carmel, CA. These actions assure to maintain you amused and entertained for 4 to 5 days in Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. We even embody further actions in case you propose to remain per week or longer within the space!

1| Go on a Whale Watching Tour

Monterey Bay teems with wildlife because of the continual conservational efforts by Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary. It’s dwelling to 36 species of marine mammals together with sea lions, seals, sea otters, dolphins and whales.

sea lion monterey bay

When you’ve gone whale watching in Hawaii or beluga viewing in Tadoussac, Quebec, you already know whale watching is often a seasonal exercise. However what makes Monterey Bay further particular is that whale sightings are assured year-round! You possibly can encounter humpback whales in the summertime, blue whales from mid-summer by means of fall, gray whales from winter to early spring, and killer whales (aka orcas) year-round.

whale watching monterey bay

For one of the best expertise, be a part of a whale watching tour. This highly-rated half-day whale-watching tour departs from Outdated Fisherman’s Wharf, taking you alongside the coast of Monterey Bay to seek for feeding whales. As you sail, hold your eyes peeled for whales, dolphins, sea lions and plenty of different unimaginable creatures!


2| Watch Sundown on the Ocean View Boulevard

For a rare coastal view, hit up the Ocean View Boulevard. The scenic roadway begins at Monterey Bay Aquarium within the east and wraps round Level Pinos Lighthouse earlier than merging with Sundown Drive. Alongside the drive, you will note many pullup stops and benches the place you’ll be able to cease and take a second to soak within the placing surroundings.

The very best time to go to is within the late afternoon, when you’ll be able to watch the sky change hues because the solar sinks in the direction of the horizon. Having fun with the soothing sea breeze in a entrance row seat to nature’s most spectacular sundown exhibits is among the most romantic issues to do in Monterey, California!

lovers point park monterey

Among the nice picture spots are Lovers Level Park, Perkins Park Vista Level (particularly in Spring), and Kissing Rock View Level.

Professional tip: Throughout low tide, you’ll be able to pop all the way down to the seaside and go tidepooling! Asilomar State Seaside is a scorching spot the place you will discover sea urchins, sea anemones, and sand {dollars}. Bear in mind, there’s a no-take coverage on all tide swimming pools in Monterey County! Test the tide schedule right here.


3| Cease by Pacific Grove and Say Howdy to Monarch Butterflies

Have you learnt that 1000’s of monarch butterflies fly throughout the continent to Pacific Grove each winter? This particular migration has earned Pacific Grove the nickname “Butterfly City of the USA.”

These overwintering monarch butterflies arrive in October to take refuge on pine, cypress and eucalyptus bushes within the Monarch Grove Sanctuary. They cling on the bushes and relaxation quietly like useless leaves more often than not. On hotter days, they may fly round in search of out nectar to replenish their power. By March, a lot of the butterflies have departed on their spring migration.

monarch butterflies california

When you’re visiting Monterey in between mid-October and mid-February, make a cease on the Monarch Grove Sanctuary (opens day by day from dawn to sundown) to get your monarch second!


4| Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Your Monterey journey will not be full with out a go to to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The non-profit analysis institute not solely supplies a possibility to stand up shut with the unimaginable marine life beneath the waves, but additionally teaches us concerning the threats to the ocean and the way we may help.

What makes the aquarium a well-known Monterey sightseeing attraction is its 28-feet tall Kelp Forest. The Forest, one of many tallest aquarium reveals on the earth, supplies meals and shelter for a vibrant ecosystem. You possibly can watch the kelp forests change with the seasons together with the considerable creatures interacting with each other.

monterey bay aquarium

One other point of interest of this world-class aquarium is its one-million-gallon Open Sea, the biggest exhibit onsite the place yellowfin tuna, stingray hammerhead sharks, silver sardines, sea turtles, tufted puffins, and jellyfish all make appearances.

The Rocky Shore exhibit is one other one that’s value a go to. You will get a deeper understanding of the intertidal animals and the way they adapt to the day by day cycle of extremes between excessive and low tides. 

To skip the road, we strongly advocate reserving your ticket on-line and downloading the CLEAR app to get a digital vaccine card.


5| Bike Alongside the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Path

On a sunny day, why not add some out of doors actions into your Monterey trip with a motorcycle journey alongside the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Path?

The scenic path stretches 18 miles (29 km) from Castroville within the north to Pacific Grove within the south, operating alongside the outdated tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Within the olden days, the rail was used to hold canned fish from right here northward to markets within the San Francisco Bay space!

Right this moment, the trail is easily paved and takes you near the water’s edge, with quick access factors to seashores, piers and marinas.

monterey bay

In downtown Monterey, you’ll be able to conveniently choose up the path at Cannery Row and journey the bike in both route. Or, begin in Pacific Grove at Jewell Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard and make your means north.

A daily bike is after all enough to sort out the comparatively flat path, however in the event you’d similar to to benefit from the surroundings and wildlife as you journey, think about renting an electrical bike! You’re on trip and there’s nothing fallacious with taking it straightforward!


 6| Get Out on the Ocean in a Kayak or SUP in Monterey Bay 

For these extra adventurous travellers, exit and discover the gorgeous waters of the Monterey Bay in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard! This enjoyable exercise allows you to benefit from the sunshine and  boosts your probability of getting up near the wonderful wildlife! As a result of the Bay is sheltered, the waters are fairly calm for water sports activities.

Leases can be found at numerous locations. Journey by the Sea has places within the space together with Cannery Row in Monterey Bay, Lovers Level in Pacific Grove, Stillwater Cove in Carmel and plenty of extra! They even run classes and excursions in the event you’re new to the exercise and would love some steering.

kayak in monterey bay old fisherman

Wish to get out on the waters however don’t need all that work? (Completely no judging right here!) Do this catamaran crusing cruise as an alternative. The boat sails round Monterey Bay Nationwide Marine Sanctuary when you watch the beautiful surroundings with a glass of wine in hand. It’s such a laid-back strategy to get pleasure from a day on the water.

Be careful for otters enjoying within the kelp and harbour seals sleeping on the rocks. Who is aware of, you may even see a whale or dolphin coming by to say hi there!


7| Take pleasure in Ice Cream at Revival

Take a break from the assorted Monterey vacationer points of interest and seize a scoop of ice cream at Revival.

Their natural ice cream is hand made with contemporary, seasonal elements—all the pieces from honey and beeswax to dairy merchandise are regionally grown and sustainably harvested.

revival ice cream in monterey california

Decide from one of many top-selling flavours: bee’s knees, eucalyptus mint chip, and lemon peel; or shock your tastebuds with distinctive mixtures similar to apricot saffron, goat cheese and beet jam, and cucumber apple. High it off with birthday sprinkles, brownie bites or different enjoyable and inventive toppings!

The shop may be present in downtown Monterey, a block away from Monterey State Historic Park.


8| Have a Romantic Dinner on the award-winning Aubergine

Talking of meals, don’t miss the chance to dine at Aubergine. The high-end restaurant resides within the coronary heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea and has earned a Michelin star yearly since 2019. 

Govt chef Justin Cogley designs an eight-course tasting menu to showcase an interesting mixture of creativity and seasonality which adjustments each evening. The dishes are a celebration of the bounty of the area in addition to an opportunity to indicate off the chef’s skillful method. Relating to service, you’ll be able to count on personalised consideration as there are solely 9 tables within the restaurant.

Meals begin at $225 per individual with an choice so as to add drinks and wine pairings to the night. Reservations are required and may be made through OpenTable. We advise checking availability a number of weeks upfront so as to safe a desk!


9| Go to the Fairytale Village of Carmel-by-the-Sea

Escape to the sleepy city of Carmel-by-the-Sea and spend a day strolling by means of the whimsical, fairytale cottages. The European-style city is tremendous picturesque, stuffed with old-world structure linked by secret passageways and flower-filled courtyards. For a short second, you may even suppose you’re really in Europe!

carmel-by-the-sea, california

Among the hottest actions in Carmel-by-the-Sea embody:

  • Visiting the Carmel Mission Basilica, a historic Roman Catholic mission church
  • Boutique buying: Many impartial shops may be discovered on Ocean Avenue
  • Discovering native items on the farmers market: held on Thursdays from 10 AM to 2 PM on Sixth Avenue between Junipero and Mission Streets.
  • Consuming and ingesting your means by means of Carmel: Discover the culinary delights of this city as you find out about its historical past and culinary tradition. This half-day, small group meals and wine strolling tour takes you to native eating places and boutique outlets, sampling locavore and ethnic dishes!

Which is Extra Fascinating to Stroll Round and Discover: Cannery Row or Carmel?

Personally, we discover Cannery Row too touristy. Most of the outlets in Cannery Row are acquainted retail chains, making it tough to search out distinctive presents and merchandise to take dwelling. Our impression is that the realm, although wealthy in historical past, is now overrun by companies which are primarily concentrating on vacationers. The one interesting factor is its shut proximity to the seaside.

cannery row in monterey

Carmel, quite the opposite, is quieter and extra laid again. As you stroll across the city, you’ll encounter many artisan outlets, regionally owned boutique shops, world-class artwork galleries, cutting-edge tasting rooms, and alluring eating places. You possibly can simply spend a day or two strolling round city!

Strapped for time however nonetheless need to tour Carmel? Contemplate a Carmel strolling tour with a neighborhood information, who will take you thru the fairytale city, go to vital landmarks, and let you know the story of this distinctive village.


10| Go Sunbathing on the Carmel Seaside

Convey a blanket and sunbathe at probably the most iconic spots on California’s Central Coast, Carmel Seaside! A brief 15-min stroll down Ocean Avenue from the centre of Carmel will take you there. Cypress bushes and turquoise water are the view ready for you on the finish of your stroll.

carmel beach in california

This image excellent seaside has a protracted stretch of sentimental, white sand and unbeatable surroundings. It’s straightforward to search out your self misplaced within the sound of the waves and the unrelenting wind because the solar kisses your pores and skin. 

Close by, the Scenic Pathway runs alongside the shoreline, meandering alongside the bluff. You possibly can entry the Pathway from Scenic Highway between eighth Avenue and Martin Approach. It can take you from Carmel Seaside all the way in which to Carmel River Seaside (sure, these two are totally different locations!).


11| Spend an Afternoon Wine-Tasting

Have you learnt that the Santa Lucia Highlands is a wine rising area in California? Ample sunshine and a cool local weather make it ideally suited to domesticate California’s greatest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

When you’re a wine drinker and would love  a style of the California Central Coast area’s wines, you’re in luck! There are a plethora of tasting rooms proper within the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea. You possibly can pattern wines from Blair Property, Scheid Vineyards, Hahn Property, Talbott Vineyards, Albatross Ridge and plenty of extra, with out having to make a visit to Carmel Valley!

wine tasting in carmel-by-the-sea

Professional tip: Although walk-ins are welcome, it is suggested to order tastings upfront throughout peak season. 


12| Play a Spherical (or Two) of Golf

Other than the breathtaking vistas and quite a few open-water actions, Monterey Peninsula can be a world-class golf vacation spot. It has hosted many main golf championships and it’s many golfers’ dream to come back right here to play. 

golf course in pebble beach via 17 mile drive

Severely, when you’re standing on artfully manicured greens and looking to the dazzling panorama, it isn’t exhausting to grasp why it’s America’s premier golf mecca.

Wish to e-book a tee time? Listed below are some golf programs to contemplate:

  • Spyglass Hill
  • Pebble Seaside Golf Hyperlinks
  • Pasatiempo Golf Membership
  • The Hyperlinks at Spanish Bay
  • Bayonet Black Horse, Bayonet Course
  • Bayonet Black Horse, Black Horse Course
  • Pacific Grove Golf Hyperlinks

Notice that a few of these golf programs have very excessive inexperienced charges. Do your analysis forward of time after which think about if the surroundings and problem are definitely worth the price ticket. 


13| Tour the Vineyards in Salinas or Carmel Valley

Salinas and Carmel Valley, two of California’s undiscovered wine areas, had been designated as AVAs in 1983. For wine lovers, exploring vineyards and tasting the colourful, brilliant flavour profiles are amongst top-of-the-line issues to do in Carmel and Monterey.

Among the greatest wineries and vineyards in Salinas and Carmel Valley embody:

  • Odonata Wines
  • Folklore Vineyard
  • Holman Ranch Vineyards
  • Joullian Vineyards & Vineyard
  • Bernardus Vineyard and Winery
  • Cowgirl Vineyard
drinking wine in california

To tour the vineyards, having a automobile is advisable, supplying you with extra flexibility and freedom. 

However in the event you’d merely love to do wine tasting, you will get by with public transport. Actually, from Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, you’ll be able to take Grapevine Categorical (Line 24) to Carmel Valley, the place most of Carmel Valley’s wine tasting rooms are situated. Many are open Thursday by means of Sunday. Salinas Valley’s wineries are extra scattered and never as simply accessible by public transport.

Alternatively, be a part of a Carmel Valley wine tour. The tour organises your transportation, arranges snacks and a lunch meal, and brings you to a few or extra wine-tasting venues. 


14| Drive the Scenic 17-Mile Drive by means of Pebble Seaside

If there’s just one factor you’re taking away from this text, it needs to be this: ensure you dedicate half a day for the 17-mile drive. Belief us, the surroundings alongside the way in which is out of this world and you’ll by no means need to depart.

As its title suggests, the scenic route is strictly 17-miles (27 km) lengthy and hugs the Pacific shoreline by means of Pacific Grove and Pebble Seaside on the Monterey Peninsula.

17-mile drive in monterey peninsula

Alongside the way in which, you’ll drive by means of coastal cliffs, white sandy seashores, mystical forests, and famend golf programs. After all, there are a lot of lookout factors value stopping for images. Common spots are Spanish Bay, Fowl Rock, The Lone Cypress, and Pebble Seaside Golf Hyperlinks.

the lone cypress, a stop on 17-mile drive

Admission is USD$11.25 per car. You’ll pay the payment as you enter by means of one of many 5 gates at Freeway 1, Samuel Morse at Freeway 68, Sundown Drive in Pacific Grove, Nation Membership Gate at Congress Avenue, or San Antonio Avenue in Carmel. 

As an alternative of driving, you too can expertise this scenic route through bike! Both lease an ebike and discover by yourself, or be a part of a 3-hour electrical bike tour and be taught concerning the space with a neighborhood information!


15| Hike the Level Lobos State Pure Reserve and Garrapata State Park

When you can’t get sufficient of the placing vistas Monterey Bay has to supply, head over to Level Lobos State Pure Reserve! The California state park presents a wonderful setting for a half-day out of doors journey, with loads of alternatives to view seabirds, observe marine life, and admire the distinctive seascape.

You possibly can discover the vast majority of the park by climbing the loop path, which is a community of many different small trails and stretches 5 miles (8 km) lengthy. The surroundings adjustments as you go, taking you from outdated progress cypress forests to sandy seashores and hidden coves. 

point lobos state natural reserve in central california, near big sur

Entry to Level Lobos requires an admission payment of USD$10 per car.

Garrapata State Park is situated additional down south alongside the Massive Sur coast, previous Carmel Highlands. Trails lead you up mountains, by means of redwoods, and alongside the rugged coast. It’s particularly stunning to go to throughout sundown and think about all of the calla lilies within the small valley.


Different Issues to Do in Monterey and Carmel

california big sur road trip

Checked out all of the issues to see in Monterey and Carmel and nonetheless need extra? Contemplate including these locations to your Monterey and Carmel itinerary:

  • Fort Ord Nationwide Monument: Probably the greatest issues to do in Monterey and Carmel is to discover nature and this leisure space presents simply that! The 86 miles of trails provide loads of alternatives to hike, bike, or horseback journey by means of rolling hills and oak woodlands.
  • Massive Sur: A shocking 71-mile (114 km) stretch off the well-known Pacific Coast Freeway, bordered by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The route boasts a jagged, dramatic shoreline between Carmel and the northern tip of San Luis Obispo County and presents many browsing and picture spots alongside the way in which!
  • Moss Touchdown: A tiny city that lies in between Monterey and Santa Cruz on the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, certainly one of California’s largest wetlands. Its geographical location makes it a superb place for wildlife viewing and whale watching. 


Greatest Time to Go to Monterey, California

The delicate local weather of the Monterey Peninsula makes it an excellent year-round vacation spot. Temperatures vary from the excessive 50s to the low 70s in Farenheits (equal to 10 to twenty levels Celsius) year-round. 

Summer time, ranging from June, is the preferred season to go to. Hotter and drier local weather attracts heavy crowds from close to and much. Throughout this peak season, you is likely to be met with lengthy traces and better room charges.

Nevertheless, Spring, Fall and Winter can simply be as pretty. 

spring flowers in big sur, california

Springtime brings an explosion of wildflowers, including colors to the panorama by means of the area’s parks – excellent for picturesque climbing. 

Crowds wane in Fall, but the times stay heat accompanied by cooler evenings. The very best half is you’ll be able to nonetheless catch the realm’s fashionable occasions, similar to festivals, dwell music, and farmer’s markets. 

Winter can carry occasional rainfalls, however it’s the prime time for whale watching as gray whales start their migration season in Monterey Bay in December. When you go to in Winter, it’s important to decorate in layers and all the time carry a rain jacket wherever you go!


Attending to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea

By air

Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) is the closest airport servicing the realm, simply three miles (5 km) from downtown Monterey. The airport supplies flight providers from a number of main US cities, so it’s straightforward to fly in for home travellers. 

Worldwide guests would fly into both San Jose Worldwide Airport (SJC), which is 1 hour and quarter-hour away, or San Francisco Worldwide Airport (SFO), which is roughly a 2-hour drive away.

By automobile

To totally get pleasure from what Monterey Peninsula has to supply, a automobile is strongly advisable. You possibly can conveniently lease a automobile from the airport you might be flying into.

Monterey and Carmel is among the greatest weekend getaways from San Francisco (or the SF Bay Space). You possibly can simply incorporate it into your California street journey itinerary. The San Francisco to Monterey drive alongside Freeway 1 will solely take you about two hours in regular site visitors.

When you’re visiting Monterey from Los Angeles, count on the drive to take about 5 hours through I-5 N and US-101 N. Add one other two hours in the event you’re driving from San Diego.

Wish to go to Monterey from San Francisco, however you’d reasonably not drive? A tour is a good choice.

There are numerous nice Monterey day excursions out there. To hit all the highest points of interest in at some point, think about this highly-rated full day tour, which takes you down scenic Freeway 1 to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, together with the well-known 17-Mile Drive by means of Pebble Seaside.


Greatest Resorts in Monterey, California

Monterey Plaza lodge & Spa: Sitting on the fringe of Cannery Row, this stunning beachfront property is ideal for anybody who desires to be near all of the motion. The 4-star lodge guarantees to pamper you with a number of excellent facilities and attraction you with a shocking view of Monterey Bay. Take your expertise up a notch with a motorcycle journey alongside the coast (complimentary bikes for staying friends) with a sundown stroll on the non-public seaside! Click on right here to examine the charges.

The Inn at Spanish Bay: For avid golfers, the luxurious Inn at Spanish Bay is a wonderful selection. Tucked away on the northwest finish of Pebble Seaside, the resort boasts unimaginable ocean views, manicured golf course, six eating choices, and an expensive spa. Rooms are splendidly spacious, complemented with Wi-Fi, Egyptian cotton mattress sheets, and a gas-burning hearth. When you’re there, be certain to catch the bagpiper efficiency, enjoying day by day earlier than sundown, rain or shine! Test the most recent charges right here.

Casa Palmero at Pebble Seaside: Nestled on the South Coast of Monterey Peninsula, Casa Palmero is the smallest and most intimate resort on Pebble Seaside. With solely 24 non-public rooms, the 5-star Mediterranean-inspired property supplies essentially the most secluded lodging expertise you’ll be able to ever have in Monterey Bay. Every room is appointed with fuel fireplaces, deep-soaking tubs — some even have an outside patio! Many resort facilities are shared with its sister property, The Inn at Spanish Bay. E-book your keep at Casa Palmero. 


Greatest Resorts in Carmel, California

L’Auberge Carmel: For an ideal Carmel escape getaway, look no additional than this Relais & Châteaux boutique lodge, ideally situated proper within the coronary heart of the Carmel village. The European-style property has a historical past relationship again to 1929! They excel at creating memorable experiences for its friends with 29 luxuriously appointed visitor rooms, a Michelin star restaurant, in-room spa providers, and a wealth of wellness experiences. Click on right here to examine availability and charges.

Carmel Valley Ranch Resort: Tucked away within the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the 500-acre resort presents a complicated escape – one which focuses on enjoyable. Journey awaits on the natural backyard, the four-acre pinot noir winery, the farmstead, the 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf course, and the neighbouring Garland Ranch Regional Park. On the finish of the day, spoil your self on the treetop Spa Aiyana, take a plunge at one of many three saltwater swimming pools, or be a part of a culinary program at The Market & Creamery! E-book a keep at Carmel Valley Ranch.

Put up Ranch Inn: If you’re seeking to splurge and don’t thoughts a bit drive, think about Put up Ranch Inn — probably the most luxurious locations to remain in Massive Sur. As soon as a working ranch, the resort now presents 40 non-public cabins, promising a wide ranging getaway that you’ll ever dream of with your beloved. A visit to the Inn takes you excessive above the cliffs of Massive Sur the place you’ll be greeted with a panoramic coastal view of the Pacific Ocean. The impeccable structure will make your jaw drop, mixing rustic magnificence with luxurious and luxury. Onsite, you’ll discover two heated infinity spas, a heated swimming pool, a health centre, a full-service spa, a restaurant, a gallery, in addition to a big selection of actions to invigorate your thoughts. Kids and pets usually are not allowed on property to provide the utmost privateness, peace, and tranquility. Test the charges and availability right here.


california road trip: 15 epic things to do in Monterey & Carmel


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