California is a huge state that would take years to fully explore, yet I keep gravitating towards Los Angeles and San Francisco every time I head down there. This time I wanted to try to explore somewhere new, so I set my sights on Monterey. I’m so glad that I did because this may be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in the state! Here’s how to spend a week in Monterey.
What to Do
There’s plenty to do in Monterey, but these were some of my favorite activities!
The Wine Experience
I’ve been to many wine tastings before, but The Wine Experience is unlike any others. They have over a dozen different wines on tap, and while you can taste them, you can actually create your own custom blend. This is genius, as so often I’ll taste a wine and think it’s good but could be a little less sweet or have a little more of another flavor. I blended 60% Viognier and 40% Malbec and really enjoyed my creation!
They have reusable glass growlers so you can save money (and the environment!) by coming in to refill your wine every time you’re empty. I also loved the custom labels they have so you can give someone a unique party gift with one of your own pictures on the bottle.
If you want an almost guarantee that you’ll see whales, Monterey is the place to do whale watching. I went with Sanctuary Cruises for a tour that was almost three hours long, which allowed us to see a good number of humpback whales. I liked that the boat changes direction when they see a whale and will wait for awhile to see if they’ll come up again.
The guide was very educational and told us all about the area and the habits of these whales. We saw whales breaching and even upside down and slapping their fins, which I’d never seen before. It looked like they were having a great time!
One of the activities I wanted to do the most in the Monterey area was drive down Highway 1 to see the landscape of Big Sur. Allow a full day for this so you can take time to stop at all the pull outs along the way. While you’ll get stopped partway due to the road being closed for a landslide, there are still plenty of restaurants to eat at while you’re there. Make sure to bring your camera!
The only thing better than looking at beautiful views of the water is going in the water. Monterey Bay is known for some amazing scuba diving. They have kelp forests and tiny, orange jellyfish that make you feel like you’re in your own underwater world. Breakwater Scuba was right on Monterey Bay so I could walk right in the water.
This iconic pier is full of seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and plenty of places to have a view of the water. I loved how colorful all the buildings were and how much was going on in this small area.
Where to Eat
I loved the food in Monterey! Make sure to add all these places to your list if you visit.
Peter B’s Brewpub
Peter B’s Brewpub had an award-winning brewmaster from the Midwest come over and brew some very different beers in-house. I had never even seen some of these flavors before! A few of my surprisingly favorite ones were a melon sour (Tiki Tembo) and a sour stout.
Although my beloved Seahawks weren’t playing, I loved watching Thursday night football at the many TVs around the restaurant as I had my sampler. I ended up ordering buffalo cauliflower “wings” and Shrimp Louie salad to top off my meal, and both were delicious!
If you love seafood, you have to make a stop at this restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Flaherty’s has so many seafood options that I think it took me at least 15 minutes to decide what to get. I ended up getting a lobster bisque for my appetizer and an Alaska halibut encrusted with crab for my entree.
Although I was completely stuffed, I couldn’t resist ending with key lime pie. The only true key lime pie I’ve ever had was when I was in Palm Beach, and this one tasted like it was straight from Florida.
Carmel Valley Coffee
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is finding a cute coffee shop to people watch, try the local coffee, and get a little work done. Carmel Valley Coffee was exactly what I was looking here, so I came here multiple mornings. I loved that they had organic coffee and gluten-free and vegan options for breakfast as well!
The Haute Enchilada
Located in Moss Landing, The Haute Enchilada is the perfect place to have lunch, especially if you just went whale watching across the street. I started with the roasted chile poblano soup and black bean empanada for an appetizer. My entree was a pescado cubano, which I promptly ate all of! All the dishes were very unique and full of flavor.
I had a blast exploring Monterey and would love to go back in the future!
This post was sponsored by See Monterey, but all opinions are my own.
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