See the world in Monterey County, CA

See the world in Monterey County, CA

Friday, 17 May, 2024 0

Explore the world right here in Monterey County.

California’s Monterey County, from coastal Carmel-by-the-Sea to the rich Salinas Valley, is proof there is no need to travel overseas for sublime views, world-class adventures, and rich culture.

Monterrey County offers all the parallel, if not preferable, travel experiences right on the Central Coast presenting the best of California.

Agriculture, art and nature deliver spectacular vistas of rolling hills and ocean sunsets.


Pass on Provence, Come to Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley has all the characteristics of Provence with grapevines everywhere — 45,000 acres to be precise. Housing more than 20 tasting rooms, Carmel Valley’s wineries, such as Georis Winery and Folktale Winery & Vineyard, mimic chateaus. Grosso lavender, a French-hybrid variety characterized by its signature purple bushiness, thrives in Carmel Valley’s climate. Carmel Valley Ranch grows Grosso lavender across the expansive property, resulting in blooms reminiscent of fields in the south of France. Bernardus Lodge & Spa celebrates the season of lavender with an annual Harvest festival, where visitors are invited to explore more than 1,000 lavender plants with a glass of wine in hand. For a literal taste of Carmel Valley’s two exports in one, “Carmel caramels,” produced out of Lion Springs Lavender Farm, blend notes of lavender and honey.


Indulge in Salinas Valley + South County over Ireland

Salinas Valley has been dubbed the “salad bowl of the world” due to its production of half the country’s lettuce, a third of its spinach and nearly all of its artichokes, making for an array of greenery. A visit to The Farm, an agricultural education center offers farm tours and produce for sale. Pinnacles National Park is a major draw of the region — a hike through its signature caves, often covered in green moss, will make for an epic adventure. For a post-hike refresher, head to The Cork & Plough in King City for a house-made soda and one of their daily specials.


Miss Morocco, Make it to Marina

Skip the Sahara and check out Californian sand dunes that overlook the sea. Marina Dunes Preserves main attraction is its towering dunes — the highest on the central coast. For those daring enough, hang-gliding from the top of the dunes is an exhilarating option. Adjacent to the preserve is Marina State Beach, a popular spot for taking in the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Directly between the two parks lies Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette, where diners have the choice of a full-service dining room, lively bar or al fresco patio.


A European Fairytale in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is famously out of a storybook, dotted with whimsical architectural and historic family-owned bed and breakfasts. Carmel has everything one could need within its town limits — there are more restaurants per capita than any other small town in America. Also, there are about 100 art galleries in just one square mile. The art scene celebrates both the heritage and the future of the community like Zantman Art Galleries featuring contemporary paintings to traditional masterpieces from artists all over the world. Carmel-by-the-Sea’s culinary highlights include Portabella’s French and Italian fare with locally sourced seafood served in a serene al fresco dining setting. Vagabond’s House Inn is an excellent lodging option close to artistic cottages.


Pacific Grove over the Painted Ladies

While San Francisco’s Painted Ladies and world-famous strip of Victorian-era homes have international allure, Pacific Grove offers distinctive architectural charm of nearly identical dwellings without the crowds. Dr. Hart’s Mansion is one of California’s historical treasures, a Victorian mansion built in 1893 with preserved original grandeur. While this one is not open for overnight stays, look no further than Seven Gables Inn or Green Gables Inn for a relaxing B&B experience with top-notch views.


Old Fisherman’s Wharf for Fishermen’s Fare

Skip one of San Francisco’s busiest tourist areas and head south to Old Fisherman’s Wharf, a picturesque pier over the Monterey Bay with wildlife encounters. For fine seafood, visit historic staples like Old Fisherman’s Grotto, or opt for more laidback settings at Abalonetti. Beyond the seafood samplings, the area’s many candy shops offer everything from saltwater taffy to rich chocolates. While in Monterey, tap into the European hostel-hopping trend and book a stay at the newly reopened Monterey Hostel.


Skip St. Andrews in ScotlandTry Pebble Beach

Widely considered America’s greatest public golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links is a golfer’s paradise. Play on a lush course that has been home to six U.S. Open championships. Off the course the area can be explored by foot and by car via 27 miles of hiking trails in the Del Monte Forest, as well as the famous 17-Mile Drive, a stretch of roadway which hugs the pacific coastline from Pacific Grove. For a real taste of Scotland, snag a table at STICKS at The Inn at Spanish Bay for the nightly bagpiper performance at sunset.


Safari at Sea 

Skip a savanna safari and head to Moss Landing and Elkhorn Slough for wildlife viewing in wetlands and estuaries. Elkhorn Slough has a fascinating history: it was slated to become an oil refinery in 1960, but the community banded together to preserve it as the sanctuary known today, housing a diverse population of birds, plants, marine mammals and fish. Visitors can kayak through the natural beauty that surrounds them. Moss Landing is a popular docking spot for whale watching boats; booking time with eco-friendly Sanctuary Cruises will allow opportunity to find the best views of humpback whales, sea otters and even orcas.


Salinas for the Savory – From Pints to Plates

Salinas, widely known as the hometown of famous literary great John Steinbeck, could be considered the region’s hub for craft beer and authentic Mexican cuisine, even rivaling San Diego’s food culture. With a meteoric rise in brew offerings on the city’s Main Street, from the female-owned Brew-N-Krew Ale House to Farmers Union Pour House and local favorite Alvarado Street Brewing Company, beer lovers will find Salinas’ downtown welcoming and walkable. For more flavor-driven exploration, the Salinas Farmers Market on Saturdays year-round captures the best of the city’s authentic Mexican cuisine. El Charrito is a local favorite known for traditional cuisine and homemade tortillas, and family-owned Villa Azteca has inventive fare, like lobster enchiladas. If further recommendation is needed, take it from the stars and head to Justin and Hailey Bieber-vetted Los Grullenses for next-level tacos.


Oaxaca on the Water

The city of Seaside is home to one of the largest Oaxacan populations outside of Mexico. Find authentic Oaxacan restaurants like La Tortuga or sip mezcal at one of the local watering holes. Come September, Seaside hosts the annual “Oaxaca by the Sea” event with live entertainment, authentic Oaxacan cuisine, and more. Seaside is also home to local watering hole Other Brother Beer Co., and The Meatery, a locally owned modern, sustainably minded meat market with small-batch charcuterie, deli items and gourmet retail.


Big Sur — No Duped Destination

Big Sur is one of America’s most sought-after vacation destinations — so much so that comparisons don’t feel appropriate. In addition to the area’s rock formations that mirror Cabo or Capri, there are multiple easy-access state parks teeming with wildlife, including Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Beyond the parks’ sweeping seaside views, 300-feet high redwoods and hiking trails await where forestland meets the beachfront. Following recent closures on Highway 1, access to the northern Big Sur area, and all hotels, restaurants and parks, is anticipated to be fully available to visitors as of Memorial Day.


For more information on Monterey County, visit

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TravelMole Editorial Team

Editor for TravelMole North America and Asia pacific regions. Ray is a highly experienced (15+ years) skilled journalist and editor predominantly in travel, hospitality and lifestyle working with a huge number of major market-leading brands. He has also cover in-depth news, interviews and features in general business, finance, tech and geopolitical issues for a select few major news outlets and publishers.

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