When you envision a California getaway, you may picture scenic shorelines, crashing waves and sun-kissed skies. You can find all of that and more if you make your way to Monterey County.
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The historic fishing town offers iconic attractions like Cannery Row, Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Monterey Bay Aquarium, where the “Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean” exhibit opens this spring. Visitors will discover many Californiafirsts, including the first state capital, first brick house, first public library and first printing press, which printed “The California,” California’s first newspaper.
Reminiscent of the French countryside, this sun-kissed region offers rolling hills covered in grapevines, olive groves and lavender fields as well as more than 20 wine tasting rooms and wineries. If you’re undecided on accommodations, consider Los Laureles Lodge, a historic property with old horse barns converted into rooms and a saloon restaurant. Carmel Valley is also home to America’s first co-ed spa, Refuge.
This small fishing village, located at the mouth of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, is the ideal destination for those who enjoy outdoor recreation and wildlife. Moss Landing is a popular spot for surfing and nature watching, including year-round whale watching on Monterey Bay, as well as a hidden gem for antiquing.
Founded in the 1870s, this historic town’s Victorian-style homes evoke yesteryear nostalgia, and each spring a purple carpet of ice plant blooms spans the coastline. Picturesque Lovers Point Park and Beach is a popular spot for surfing, swimming and picnics, and you’ll find some of the area’s best tide pooling, too. In addition, Pacific Grove CiderWorks – the only cider tasting room in Monterey County – offers temptation in the form of award-winning hard cider, pear cider and pear port.
If the beach is calling, Marina offers miles of beachfront and stretches of sand dunes. It’s the spot for active adventures such as hang-gliding, paragliding and skydiving. In addition to sampling a selection of restaurants, visitors can explore the remnants of Fort Ord, a military training ground that closed in 1994. The area also offers luxury accommodations and family-friendly hotels, including Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton scheduled to open spring 2022, which features amenities including a pool, gym, meeting rooms, business center and expansive breakfast area.
This vibrant agriculture hub is the county seat of Monterey and a culinary hotspot thanks to the growing food scene and numerous breweries. Emma’s Bakery & Cafe has quickly become a local favorite, while authentic Italian is what’s for dinner at Mangia, Eat on Main. Home of the nationally renowned National Steinbeck Center, Salinas also hosts the annual California International Airshow and California Rodeo Salinas.
This up-and-coming city boasts easy beach access for sunset views. It’s packed with activities from skateboarding to rock climbing and golfing at former military golf courses Black Horse and Bayonet. Plus, the town provides access to Fort Ord National Monument and its 86 miles of trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding and an array of diverse dining options, including several Black-owned restaurants.
A rich agricultural region known as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” this fertile area is home to Pinnacles National Park and more than two dozen wineries and tasting rooms, including an expanded second tasting room at Joyce Wine Company. Most of the wineries are connected by the scenic River Road Wine Trail, which runs along the Santa Lucia Mountains.