The Magic of Monterey
Find coastal inspiration in the galleries and vistas of this historic seaside town.
Watch the sunset from the rooftop Jacuzzi at The Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa.
Photo by Paul Dyer
From frolicking sea otters to soft ocean breezes, the bay sets a glorious scene in Monterey. Stroll along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail—which stretches 18 miles from Castroville to Pacific Grove and runs right through town—to spot whales and sea lions. You’ll pass shops, restaurants, and galleries, as well as Fisherman’s Wharf and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Other options: Rent a canopied surrey for a family ride; take a guided walking tour of Cannery Row; or join a yoga class at Wave Street Studios. seemonterey.com, walkmonterey.com, adventuresbythesea.com, wavestreetstudios.com.
The California coast has inspired countless painters to pick up their brushes and turn canvases into reflections of the area’s natural beauty. Adorn your own walls by visiting the Monterey Peninsula Art Foundation, a cooperative that sells an eclectic array of works by 30 local artists.
“People often come in as they are leaving town, looking for that memory to take home,” says Wendy Crockett, an artist whose paintings are displayed in the gallery, which is situated in a nearly century-old carriage house.
Other worthwhile stops for art lovers include the Monterey Museum of Art, featuring regional California works, and the Dali 17, a permanent collection of pieces by the celebrated surrealist Salvador Dalí—who in the 1940s lived along the original 17 Mile Drive. mpaf.org, montereyart.org, dali17.com.
Head to Lighthouse Avenue for tiki drinks at Hula’s Island Grill (happy hour starts at 2 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays); browse for books at BookBuyers (where you can pick up a used copy of a John Steinbeck novel—the author wrote many of his books in and about the area); or buy vintage kitsch from Cat’s Meow (invest in some costume jewelry or retro furs for fun). Squeeze in a final stop at the Pierce Ranch Vineyards tasting room for a glass of Graciano or Verdelho. hulastiki.com, catsmeowfashion.com, piercevineyards.com.
STAYING IN STYLE
The Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa boasts spectacular bay views and a classy lounge, with a fireplace and evening jazz. The hotel also offers packages that include tickets to the aquarium, or massages and skin treatments at the spa. Be sure to ride the elevator to the top floor for a sunset soak in the rooftop Jacuzzi.
Afterward, dine at Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar, where you can savor seafood specials while watching otters splash in the waves. Try the delectable “Angry Prawns,” tossed with chile, garlic, and lemon. Pair the dish with the Setting Sail Lemonade cocktail—spiked with rum and house-made pear, thyme, and vanilla bean syrup—to toast to one fine weekend. Room rates start around $249, montereyplazahotel.com, schoonersmonterey.com.
PHOTOS BY (FROM TOP TO BOTTOM): PAUL DYER; SHUTTERSTOCK