Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf was used as an active wholesale fish market into the 1960s.
While history-rich Monterey is the ideal destination for those hoping to learn more about California's colonial past, it is also chock-full of scenic views, stunning art, and delicious food. We've put together the perfect day in Monterey and invite you to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of this jewel on the California coast.
- Start the morning with fresh fruit pancakes, a seafood omelet, and coffee at LouLou's Griddle in the Middle on the commercial pier in Monterey.
- From there, take the 15-minute walk to the Monterey Museum of Art to visit the permanent collection of early California paintings. The collection emphasizes works from the 1920s-30s that define a period known as California Modernism. Other museum highlights include the Asian Art collection, featuring textiles; woodblock prints; and jade and lacquer objects from Japan, China, and Korea.
- Spend the afternoon cruising Monterey's 17-Mile Drive, a scenic route featuring spectacular views of mountains, beaches, and the Pebble Beach golf course. Stop for lunch at Roy's Restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay, which overlooks the ocean. Alternately, pack a picnic and eat it at the Seal Rock Picnic Area. You'll drive past Bird Rock, where you can take in (with binoculars, or telescopes provided at the site) a view of birds, harbor seals, and sea lions.
- At sunset, head back to Monterey for dinner and wine at Restaurant 1833, within easy walking distance of downtown. Choose between serious entrees, such as the braised lamb shank, or lighter fare, like the grilled eggplant pizza. For dessert, stop by Parker-Lusseau Pastries for a selection of tarts, slices of cake, and French macarons.
The Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds are perched on 107 acres of beachfront land, and rustic cottages are available to guests.
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Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove
Comprised of 11 structures, all built in the Arts & Crafts architectural style, the resort maintains a serene experience by furnishing rooms free of distractions such as televisions and telephones.
Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant, Carmel
Mission Ranch Resort, preserved and restored by Clint Eastwood during his tenure as mayor of Carmel, is a charming 1800s ranch and former dairy farm that now provides an exceptional vacation experience for travelers seeking an authentic slice of the area.
La Playa Carmel By The Sea, Carmel
Designed as a mansion in 1905 by artist Christian Jorgensen as a gift for his wife, a member of the Ghirardelli family, La Playa Carmel By The Sea is perched on top of a wooded bluff and boasts a spectacular view of the Pacific coastline.
Dating from 1904 and modeled after European hotels of the era, this historic inn in the heart of downtown Monterey is an easy walk to the beach and Municipal Wharf 2, as well as attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the fabled Cannery Row.
Another view of Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf
This eatery specializes in fresh, creative dishes such as seared diver-harvested scallops cooked in Thai coconut curry broth. The menu also boasts an extensive list of specialty cocktails--try the signature sweet Blue Sardine or the sour East of Eden Appletini.
Restaurant 1833 is located in one of the oldest adobe houses in California, but the menu is refreshingly modern -- it features everything from bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter olive to parmesan crusted chicken and salmon plucked right from Monterey Bay.
Baldemiros Taco Shop
For an authentic burrito or taco on the Monterey Peninsula, look no farther than the Baldemiros Taco Shop in Seaside. Praised for its carne asada fries and adobado burritos, this "Mexican greasy spoon" may not be much to look at, but it makes up for its lack of good lucks in full-bodied, genuine flavor.
Billed as "Carmel's most romantic restaurant," Casanova is a beacon of old-world charm in downtown Carmel. Fresh takes on traditional French and Italian dishes dominate the menu, such as Rigatoni con Funghi with squash puree, pumpkin seeds, and gorgonzola.
More About Monterey from our magazine:
History, culture, and scenic views.