If you’re starting out your day in the ole fisherman’s wharf town, be sure to begin by seeing the otters playing on the beach. Nothing beats touching down in Monterey’s swift cool oceanic air full of life from the sea. The beach where the otters play is also very close to Pacific Grove, America’s Last Hometown, and the ocean drive from Monterey to Pacific Grove on into Pebble Beach is just outstanding. If you’re a biker, check out the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. This is biker’s heaven! Take a drive afterwards and be sure to stop at Lover’s Point Park and Beach in Pacific Grove on your way. Although, it’s probably discouraged, there you can feed these little squirrels that are so brave they will climb up your leg. Imagine that! Afterwards, do the Pacific Coast drive all the way along 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. See the Ghost Tree on your way, and make another stop to view the sea lions and more otters at a lookout. Stop at the The Pebble Beach Lodge in Pebble Beach and see the greens, then swing by their market to pick up some awesome cheese, olives and maybe some wine for later. Get something for the road and pull off into one of the many inlets and have a small picnic. Pretend you’re in Europe. By the time you get to Carmel-by-the-Sea, it is time to shop. Go for it on this awesome coastal resort town. Home to celebrities and international tycoons alike, they have every shop you could want. Buy some old photographs at an art walk place, get a coffee and maybe eat lunch there, or you could drive inland to Carmel Valley to eat lunch at Earthbound Farms—a truly phenomenal sun splashed place to get a soup and a salad and pick up some fresh produce. After eating, head back to Carmel Beach for a little while. More craggly rocks and cool winds sweeping off the brisk ocean meet you there. You’ll see the surfers and young people hanging out and people throwing Frisbee for their dog on this dog-friendly beach. Hopefully, you’ll have a sunny day, but if not, pretend you’re in England, it feels like that sometimes.
After you’re finished, be sure to do the Carmel drive along the ocean and view the dramatic little seven dwarf homes there, one after the other, built very close to each other. Once you’ve driven past the ocean and start heading inland, stop and tour the Carmel Mission. You’ll also pass by Clint Eastwood’s Mission where his restaurant and hotel lie (a great place to eat if you’re sticking it out in Carmel for dinner or staying there). You could return to Moneterey by way of Route 1. Back in old town, spend the afternoon at the Aquarium, it’s legendary. Maybe check out The Fisherman’s Wharf area—plus, Monterey’s Cannery Row is famous. Around the old area, there is a stellar video tour of Monterey’s History in a building that I really liked. For dinner, I personally like the Monterey Fish House, which is a little drive North, but hey, you get to see more of the town that way—the Chart House sits right on the water in the Fisherman’s Wharf area if you decide to stay downtown, I’ve eaten there to and liked it. Later on, spend the evening around a fire pit at your hotel because it gets cold at night or go to see your favorite act at the Monterey Theater downtown. Schedule accordingly—I saw Brian Regan there and loved it! You could also go back to the Carmel Highlands Hyatt Hotel (by the way, an unbelievable place to stay if you can afford it), and take in the dramatic views out the huge windows, while having a glass of wine and listening to the house musician. Note: Keep an eye out for the Concurs d’ Elegance, the antique classic car show at the Pebble Beach lodge. Jay Leno is always there with some of his cars, I think. Have fun and good luck on one of the most beautiful stretches of coast on earth in my opinion. Don’t forget, you’re right next to Big Sur and you’ve just got to see that also. See my article U.S. Coastal Drives.