As you make plans for a weekend getaway, keep this in mind: Carmel and Monterey are a quick two hour drive south from San Francisco. For those with an appetite for some of the best wine tasting and gastronomic treasures around, it’s time to get going. Stay in unique properties and enjoy the verdant region with its knock-out views.
Start on Monterey’s Cannery Row. Don’t dismiss this out of hand as “too touristy.” The area is steeped in history as the epicenter of Steinbeck country. It’s the ideal place to jump start the fun. Check into the InterContinental The Clement Monterey – the perfect location (for you and the car). The modern hotel sits on Monterey Bay (and a national marine sanctuary) and fits into its seaside locale with a weathered exterior and boardwalk. The interior is upscale and inviting and the rooms are comfortable, spacious, loaded with amenities and many have views of the main street and the scenic bay (some with balconies). From here, it’s a quick walk around town.
Stroll over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, inhaling the salty sea air along the way. This popular venue inspires conservation of the oceans through “teaching” exhibits of sea life. From sharks to jelly fish, sea turtles to penguins, there are wonderful displays to be discovered, including the reinvented Open Sea wing.
For lunch, try the Monterey Bay Aquarium Restaurant – Cindy Pawlcyn’s latest adventure serving up fresh, local and sustainable creations. Every seat has Bay views – all the better because with borrowed binoculars and a guide, you’ll be able to identify the birds you spot. Hog Farms grilled asparagus, wild Pacific Dungeness crab cakes and the Thai style mussels are hits.
Essentials: Getting There:
Monterey & Carmel, CA: about two and one-half hours south of San Francisco. Route 1 South on a clear day is exceptional. More direct is 101 South to 156 West to 1 South.
Tourist Information: www.carmelcalifornia.com; www.monterey.org.
Samsonite Wind Guard Umbrella: 800-593-5251, www.wayfair.com. Protects against the wind; automatic open/close; fits in your bag. $26.99.
Verilux ReadyLight Flashlight: 800-454-4408, www.verilux.com. Solar powered, rechargeable, durable, light weight. $29.95.
Caorunn Gin: www.caorunngin.com. Scottish, handcrafted, small batch, delicious.
Hovercraft 2 In-Flight Bag: 800-962-4943, www.magellans.com. Multiple compartments; fits under the seat; made of ballistic nylon. $82.50.