With a magical collection of iconic destinations, including Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, Pebble Beach and more—all within a short distance of one another—Monterey County is full of breathtaking scenic beauty and invigorating adventures. Situated along California’s majestic central coast, it is home to coastlines and valleys, secluded resorts, storybook villages, world-class wine, golf, epic hiking trails and white sandy beaches that go on for miles. Alaska Airlines’ new, daily direct flights from Seattle to Monterey open up a world of possibilities and places to explore in the area. With so much to see and do, you might not be able to fit it all into just one trip.
Rocky cliffs, coastal redwood forests and hidden beaches combine to create an epic backdrop for recreation, romance and relaxed exploration. Hike trails through fragrant forests to reach scenic overlooks and beaches. Soak in the surroundings and settle into a euphoric state of relaxation. Pro tip: Be sure to visit the Big Sur River Inn, Big Sur’s first hotel and restaurant. Relax on their Adirondack chairs with your toes in the river, while you sip one of their award-winning bloody mary cocktails. Big Sur is open and accessible from the north and south via Highway 1.
Stroll past fairytale cottages and peruse art galleries, then pair award-winning local wines and world-class dining. Be sure to save time to hike at nearby Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel, known as “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world.” Pro tip: Check out Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop, rent an electric bike or sidecar, grab takeout and cruise Scenic Road along Carmel Beach. With its white sandy dunes and impressive sunsets this is one place you will never forget.
Lead yourself through sun-kissed wine country and sip your way down Carmel Valley Road. Featuring award-winning restaurants with menus crafted to showcase local vintages and farm-to-table cuisine, Carmel Valley is where rustic charm and refined meet. Pro tip: Monterey Guided Wine Tours offers exclusive and private guided wine tasting tours throughout the area on their party buses, town cars or stretch limos. They have wine-tasting packages that can be tailored to meet tastes of any individual.
Monterey has a robust and remarkable history attracting visitors from around the world since the 1700s. Today, iconic attractions like Cannery Row, Old Fisherman’s Wharf and the Monterey Bay Aquarium (slated to reopen in spring) are known around the world. Pro tip: One of our nation’s most spectacular marine protected areas, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers some of the best wildlife viewing around. Book a whale-watching excursion with Monterey Bay Whale Watch (available year-round) and experience these magnificent creatures up close.
With one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the country, and a classic 1932 Neville golf course sporting epic ocean views, Pacific Grove holds old-fashioned charm. Also, one of the top mMonarch butterfly migration spots, it has earned the nicknames “Butterfly Town, USA” and “Sanctuary by the Sea.” Pro tip: Rent a bike or surrey (four-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicles that can accommodate entire families) from Adventures by the Sea and cruise the 18-mile long Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.
With the stunning Pacific as your backdrop, you can take in The Lone Cypress or the myriad views along iconic 17-Mile Drive, and enjoy a round of cocktails or a round of golf on some of the world’s most famous courses. Justifiably famous and always inspiring. Pro tip: Play as the pros do at Pebble Beach Golf Links—you can warm up at the 9-hole Peter Hay Golf Course, or try out the newest course, Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Salinas & Salinas Valley
The ancestral home of Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck, Salinas is a hub of cultural activity, from the nationally acclaimed National Steinbeck Center Museum to California’s largest rodeo and a flourishing agribusiness mecca. Be sure to visit farmers markets, up-and-coming restaurants and gastro-pubs. Pro tip: Head south to Salinas Valley and wine taste along the River Road Wine Trail all the way to Pinnacles National Park. This amazing place boasts outdoor activities ranging from hiking and birdwatching (including rare California condors) to rock climbing.
Hey, Seattle: we’ve pulled out all the stops to world-class wine, golf, epic scenery and outdoor adventure. Golf clubs and cases of wine fly free! New daily direct flights on Alaska Airlines depart from Seattle (SEA) to Monterey (MRY).