Let’s face it, we’ve all been dreaming of the perfect getaway during the past year. Now is the moment to plan your dream trip to Monterey County, just a short, direct plane ride from SeaTac Airport. Monterey County offers an enchanting collection of destinations where social distancing comes beautifully and naturally, outdoor adventure abounds, and there’s plenty of variety to satisfy your taste buds and soul.
Go ahead and splurge on renting a convertible to drive along 99 miles of coastal splendor, stop to admire breathtaking views and gastronomic treats along the way. Venture inland to explore more than 3,300 square miles of magnificent valleys and foothills dotted with farms, award-winning vineyards and tasting rooms, as well as bed-and-breakfasts that beg for exploration. Whether you’re yearning to dig your toes into one of the area’s many white sandy beaches, luxuriate at a secluded spa and resort, explore a wide range of scenic hiking trails and biking trails, find the perfect souvenirs in charming boutiques and galleries, sample world-class food and wine, or all of the above, it can all be found in this accessible wonderland.
Here are just a handful of rejuvenating Monterey moments that are just a quick flight away.
Fun for the entire family
Picture this: a vacation that’s as entertaining for you as it is for your kids! Sounds like a dream come-true, right? Monterey County offers a wide range of activities designed to amuse and engage children as well as the young at heart. Spend a few hours or an entire morning at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which reopens May 2021. Giggle side-by-side with your kids at the antics of sea otters and African penguins. Enjoy the tranquility of the kelp forest exhibit, and translucent floating jellyfish. Be sure to plan ahead, as advanced ticket reservations are now required.
For outdoor wildlife sightings and a drive the whole family will enjoy, there’s Pebble Beach’s 17-Mile Drive, home to shoreline birds, harbor and elephant seals and more. Recognized as one of the most scenic drives in the world, this famous stretch features incredible views and sites perfect for a day of exploration. Don’t miss the most photographed tree in North America, the Lone Cypress Tree, which is over 250 years old.
Craving a dash of excitement? WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course best known for The Corkscrew, a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports, with an elevation change equivalent to 5½ stories. Bring a picnic and spend the afternoon, or bring your camping equipment and stay the entire weekend. Laguna Seca Recreation area is well-known for its wildlife including black tail deer, red-tailed hawks, rabbits and more.
There’s no better place to celebrate love than the restaurants, wineries and spas set against the many romantic vistas of Monterey County. Stroll along picture-perfect beaches and cobblestone streets in the upscale-bohemian artist town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. For historians, Monterey County has a rich history (after all, it was the state’s first capital). Notables include the first brick building and first theater in California, and you don’t want to miss the charming Victorian architecture found in Pacific Grove. If you’re looking for something a tad more active, take a drive along River Road Wine Trail and explore the tucked away wine-tasting rooms in the lush Salinas Valley or tee-off at the legendary golf courses in Pebble Beach that offer a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. After a romantic sunset cruise or toast on the beach, it’s time to celebrate the end of another perfect day at one of the area’s many tempting restaurants. There’s something to fit every budget, without sacrificing a great ocean view. The Beach House at Lover’s Point, for example, overlooks the entire Monterey Bay. A local secret is to get there early for their incredible Sunset Special menu. For a splurge, dine on a gourmet meal at Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Be sure to make reservations just before sunset to fully enjoy the show in the sky.
The possibilities for rejuvenating moments in the great outdoors of Monterey County are endless. Whether you want to watch the whales, take a day hike on one of the many recreation trails or go for an adrenaline rush skydiving at Monterey Bay, there is no more spectacular place to enjoy nature’s splendor.
Diverse bike trails for all skill levels make cycling one of the region’s most popular pastimes. If you’re a beginner, soak in the sights of the coastline on a safe and leisurely path that runs from Old Fisherman’s Wharf to Lover’s Point. Fort Ord National Monument, located on the former Fort Ord military base in Marina, offers more than 86 miles of trails to explore on foot, bike or on horseback. Bring your binoculars and camera: this 14,000-acres of protected land runs along the coast and through the Salinas Valley and is home to 44 species of rare plants and animals.