This may make me sound incredibly silly but it has been so long since I've been to Monterey that for some reason I always thought it was more like the city of SF... boy was I ever so wrong! It has all the little unique shops and eateries like SF but in terms of being a city, its the complete opposite! Such a quiet, mellow atmosphere, its a wonderful place to go to to just relax especially during a weekday when everyone is at work. I'd imagine the weekend might be a little different, regardless I will be returning to this lovely city a lot more now that I know what a little gem it is! There is so much more to explore!
Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary @ Pacific Grove, CA
This was a pretty cool spot! I've never seen this many butterflies altogether like this, its memorizing. Now that said however, when I say its a "spot"... its literally a spot, there's a path that you can walk along to see the butterflies flutter around but if you were just walking down that path (and not like me stopping every 3 seconds to take pictures), you can easily walk from one end to the other in 2 minutes. If you're planning to visit, make sure this isn't the main part of the trip, this is more of a pit stop moment. Lovely but there's not much after the effects of the butterflies wear off.
Nonetheless, I still think its worth a trip to see. The monarchs fly here (and several other locations along the coast of CA) for the winter months (Oct-Feb) to cluster together for winter to stay warm. The best time to see huge clusters is around Nov-Dec, around the end of Feb when I came, the majority of them are already gone.
Old Fisherman's Wharf/Old Fisherman's Grotto @ Monterey, CA
Coming here on a Monday is absolute perfection. Everything is quiet and peaceful so you can just take in the ocean air and wonderful California sun. Everything is like a scaled down version of the Fisherman's Wharf in SF, there is a strip of shops and restaurants along the wharf and anyone that apparently has chowder on their menu is outside of their restaurants giving out samples. I could probably get full just sampling, there were so many! Unfortunately and fortunately my friend and I already have a place in mind (so maybe tastings can happen next time), Old Fisherman's Grotto. My friend swears by its clam chowder, so being the curious food lover that I am, how can I not go and check this place out for myself right!!?
The restaurant is right along the water and if you're lucky you'll get seated right next to the window and then you get a perfect view of the harbor (like us!). Very peaceful and calm environment to enjoy a nice glass of wine with lunch and catch up with old friends (or yourself or your partner).
I'm going to be honest, I was a bit of a pig, I ordered and ate everything that I had ordered. It was all so good! Times like this I really wished I had more than one stomach. By the time I was done with lunch there was no room for dessert... and the way they served the dessert menu was awesome! I was spying on a table nearby for this, so instead of giving you a dessert menu, they bring out a plate of each of the desserts on a platter and you get to pick right from there! How genius!? I don't know about other people but I'm super visual, sometimes words on a page doesn't do the actual food justice (notice how I have pictures for everything!).
Point Pinos Lighthouse @ Pacific Grove, CA
Its a nice small pit stop to visit as you get a nice view of the water from there and also the golf course. It's also one of the 6 historic lighthouses along the coast, literally a piece of history. We stopped here for a bit to snap a few pictures and then continued on after I found out I could get much closer to the water!
Crema Expresso and Wine Bar @ Pacific Grove, CA
Such a cute little cafe! Its actually a dual cafe (day)/wine bar (night) inside an old Victorian home! It was such a great little find after a whole day of strolling around to just come here and grab a cup of hot beverage and sit in their little outside sitting area to just chat. I was only here during the day but rumors have it the night light life and their wine bar/tapas are pretty amazing too.
While I was here, there was an array of coffees/teas/beer floats to choose from and of course goodies/small eats from their food section. I was still too full from lunch to eat anymore but no one can say no to a hot cup of white mocha latte!
Near Sunset Dr, Pacific Grove, CA
As soon as you drive up to this stop, you instantly get hit with the ocean salt water air, so thick and reminds me of the smell of oysters for some reason...probably because they're from the sea and when you open them up, they often still retain that fresh ocean water scent...or I just love food so much everything must be drawn back to it...who knows.
This is a great spot to just be...take pictures, walk along the beach, be deep in thought, stare out into the open sea, just take in the moment. There was enough of a breeze that day for me to capture some nice shots of some waves and water hitting against the seaside rocks. It was also nice that it was low tide so my friend and I were able to walk along some (huge) pebbles to get further out.