Weekend Escapes Monterey: Monterey is one of my favorite places to escape to for the weekend – or any day for that matter. It’s such a magical, quaint place and I love the vibe of tranquility and peace that I feel every time I come. If you’re looking for a romantic place to spend with your significant other, or just time to enjoy by yourself or with family or friends, this is the place to discover. Enter: Monterey.
I’m usually a fly-by-the-seat kind of person when it comes to traveling and exploring new places. I love to just enjoy the moment without too much planning. But for this special occasion, I spent time planning ahead and actually enjoyed it. I decided to take a road trip from Los Angeles to Monterey and make some stops along the way. You can check out my post on Weekend Road Trip From Los Angeles to Monterey.
Exploring this beautiful coastal town is like your own personal serenity. From the beautiful smell of the sea to the miles of coastal beach to explore to the quaint downtown, I am in love with this place.
One of my favorite places to stop and eat is Treehouse Cafe. It’s quaint, has amazing vegetarian and vegan dishes, and is usually my go-to spot when I’m in town.
We arrived in Monterey Friday and after checking in to our hotel, we headed into Carmel-by-the-Sea for an amazing dinner at Portabella. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Monterey Bay and had an amazing view of the bay. We were central to everything, and only 30 minutes from Big Sur and Bixby Bridge. If you are looking for a centralized location to be near all the attractions, I recommend staying at the Embassy Suites Monterey Bay – Seaside.
Friday night, we went to downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea to dine at Portabella for dinner. They have amazing vegetarian and vegan options and I was quite happy with my veggie pasta. It was so filling and the portions are so large that it can easily satisfy two people. I wasn’t able to finish my bowl of pasta but it was so delicious! I was so full! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This place is perfect for date night, night out with the girls, or with family.
Since this was my mom’s first time in Monterey, I wanted to show her around and of course, that meant taking her to the iconic 17-Mile Drive. If you’ve never been, it’s a place you must stop and go to. The drive is out of this world and the views are beyond spectacular.
Saturday morning, we had breakfast at First Awakenings, which I might say, is the best breakfast spot in town. They don’t take reservations so it’s first come, first served. We waited about 25 minutes for a table for two and it was well worth the wait. They were able to accommodate me with vegan breakfast options and the Vegan Skillet was super filling and enough for two people. They’re famous for their pancakes – which fill the entire width of the plate – and my mom said they were incredible. I highly recommend you to check this place out.
Along our way from breakfast, we stopped at Bixby Bridge to take photos and enjoyed the scenery right before sunset. If you’ve never seen Bixby Bridge, I highly recommend taking the time to stop and take photos. It truly is a beautiful experience.
Another great stop in Monterey is Cannery Row. One of my favorite places to visit is Tidal Coffee, as they have the best coffee in town. My favorite is the Cafe Latte with almond milk.
Be sure to stroll along the coast where you’ll see colossal sand dunes and sea otters. There are many hidden trails along Highway 1 that you can easily pull over and explore if you’re headed to Big Sur from Monterey.
After a day of strolling through town, good food and checking out the coast with walks along the sand, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel.
Monterey is home to the most beautiful rugged coastline in the state of California. It is one of the most beautiful and sought after destinations in the world. Here’s my list of top picks and favorite places to stay in Monterey as you plan your trip.
Places to Stay in Monterey, California
Monterey is one of the most iconic places to stay in California. Home to historic Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s the perfect place for a family vacation and is walking distance to Old Fisherman’s Wharf. There are plenty of great places to stay in Monterey, whether you’re looking to stay in luxury hotels or a more family-friendly option.
This is one of my favorite places to stay in Monterey. It boasts ocean views and is in the center of all the main attractions. You can learn more about the Intercontinental The Clement Monterey here.
Spend time indulging in luxury with this romantic getaway stay at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Perched right over the rugged coast of the Pacific ocean, this luxury hotel is definitely a splurge. Nestled in downtown Monterey, this hotel is the perfect relaxing escape for your next trip. You can learn more here.
Spend time with family in this high-end hotel that sits on a golf course. Perfect for family-friendly getaways or time away with a loved one, this hotel is a great place to stay in Monterey. You can learn more about the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel here.
This nautical-themed hotel offers ocean view rooms and is only a 5-minute walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s the perfect destination if you want to be in the center of it all. You can learn more about the Portola Hotel & Spa here.
Best Places to Stay in Carmel, California
Carmel is such a charm. This quaint town is perfect for a romantic getaway. My husband and I love this place so much and we enjoying spending time in Carmel whenever we get the chance. If you’re looking for upscale luxury, this is the place to be. Slightly more expensive than Monterey, Carmel offers old-world charm in the modern world.
Whenever I visit the Monterey Peninsula, I love staying in Carmel. It has a romantic, small-town feel that I love so much. If you love staying in a boutique hotel, luxury resort or close to the ocean, Carmel is the place to be.
This amazing, luxury countryside resort is one of my favorite places in Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley Ranch features a golf course, a full-service spa, tennis courts, hot tub and access to hiking trails. Every room is considered a luxurious guest room when you stay at this luxury oasis. Learn more about Carmel Valley Ranch here.
A definite splurge option, but so worth it. La Playa Carmel is a luxury hotel that provides a complimentary champagne brunch each morning. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool or take a 4-minute walk to the beach. You can learn more about La Playa Carmel here.
Sitting atop the mountains, this coastal retreat overlooks the Big Sur coast with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the best luxury resorts in California’s central coast. You can learn more about the Hyatt Carmel Highlands here.
This amazing hotel offers free parking, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and is situated in the heart of Carmel. This hotel is surrounded by attractions such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Learn more about Carmel Mission Inn here.
With only a 20-minute walk to the beach and located in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea, this gorgeous property is only a 10-minute drive to the iconic 17-Mile Drive. Located in the heart of the village, this hotel features spacious rooms and a short walk to downtown Carmel-by–the-Sea. You can learn more about The Hotel Carmel here.
Things to Do Near Monterey, California
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Cannery Row
- Old Fisherman’s Wharf
- Monterey State Historic Park
- Lover’s Point Park
- Pacific Grove
- See marine life (sea otters, sea lions, etc.)
- Whale watching tours
Most Popular Tours In Monterey
- Monterey & Carmel 17-Mile Drive Full Day Tour – Departs from San Francisco
- 2.5 Hour Electric Bike Tour Coastal Monterey & 17-Mile Drive – Fun for the entire family, tandem bikes also available for kids
- Day Trip to Monterey & Carmel via California Coast – Spend time enjoying California’s coastal scenery. Departs from San Francisco.
- Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey – Half-day whale watching tour from Monterey. Enjoy spotting sea lions, dolphins and whales during this 3.5 hour tour.
Things To Do Near Carmel, California
- The iconic 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach
- Wine tasting
- Shop and dine on Ocean Ave
- Have lunch and shop at The Inn at Spanish Bay
- Point Lobos Natural Reserve
- Hike at Garrapata State Park
- Visit Calla Lily Valley
- Take a food and wine tour
- Drive down the Big Sur coastline
Other Places to Stay Besides Monterey or Carmel, California
Monterey and Carmel and two of the most beautiful and scenic places in California. If you’ve never been, they definitely are the best places you want to visit. 17-Mile Drive, Carmel Beach and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve are places you’ll want to visit.
There are so many beautiful places to stay near Monterey and Carmel, California where you can explore the many amenities that they have to offer as well. Monterey and Carmel are pricier than most places. If you’re looking to explore other areas, here are some other great options.
Santa Cruz may be another option to look into. Santa Cruz is less than an hour from Monterey and could be another option to explore.
Seaside is another great place to stay, being only 15 minutes away from Monterey, this place offers nearby hotels and beaches to explore as well.
Big Sur is another great option. It’s close to all the amenities that Carmel and Monterey have to offer less than an hour away. A great place to stay is Big Sur Lodge, or my favorite, Alila Ventana Big Sur.
No matter where you choose to stay, California’s Central Coast is the perfect destination for golf enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs, fun activities for the kids, beaches, hikes and more when you visit the beautiful Central Coast!
Looking for more California places to explore? You may also like:
- Weekend Escapes: Paso Robles
- Weekend Escapes: The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
- Best Stops from Los Angeles to San Francisco Road Trip
- Redwood National Park: The Complete Guide
- Best National Parks in California