Monterey Peninsula

Featured Photo: Spencer Davis via Unsplash

Everything you need to know about visiting the Monterey Peninsula.

  • Nearly 1/4 million tons of sardines were processed on Cannery Row in 1945, the year John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row was published.
  • Neon signs, billboards and hot dog stands are prohibited in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and a permit is required to wear high-heeled shoes.
  • The Salinas Valley is #1 agricultural region in the U.S. and is dubbed the “Salad Bowl of the Nation”

California’s Northern Coast offers unforgettable vistas along the Pacific Coast Highway, and a wealth of fascinating points of interest along the way that prove just as memorable. For this region Local Getaways covers the seaside communities from Monterey south to Big Sur.

Monterey: Another 42 miles south on Highway 1 sits the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium along Cannery Row, which is filled with high-end hotels, great restaurants like the C restaurant + bar, and local boutiques. You can go see humpbacks and blue whales from shore or from boats from Moss Landing (across the bay) or famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

Carmel: Nearby appears this small beach town, also known as Carmel-By-The-Sea, and Pebble Beach Golf Links in neighboring Pebble — America’s #1 public golf course (but it will set you back about $600 per round). Take a scenic 17-Mile-Drive, visit Carmel Beach for surfing, go hiking or scuba diving at Point Lobos State Reserve (with reservations), and check out the Carmel Mission that dates back to 1797. Ex-mayor Clint Eastwood owns Mission Ranch, a great Sunday Brunch place; Toro is a superb new sushi spot; and there are many great farm-to-fork, Italian and seafood eateries in the charming, walkable downtown. More than 20 local wineries’ tasting rooms and seemingly infinite shops can be found here too.

Big Sur: Finally, about 25 miles further south is the natural grandeur of Big Sur — Spanish for “Big South.” From the purple sands of Pfeiffer Beach, to the alluring hilltop views from the now all-inclusive Ventana Big Sur, or the wrap-around patio at Nepenthe, there is no shortage of scenic stops. Dress in layers; mornings can be cool and foggy, while afternoons can be warm and sunny.

The history of the Monterey Peninsula is similar to the South Bay — originally it was home to several tribes of Native Americans, followed by Spanish explorers and ranchos, then American homesteaders in the 1850s. There is still a strong Mexican heritage throughout the area.

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