Monterey Peninsula: Carmel-by-the-Sea, 17-Mile Drive and Monterey

After the most delicious breakfast in Napa, we started the real “road trip” portion of our West Coast adventure. We hopped in our rented Chevy Impala and hit the road. Next stop: the Monterey Peninsula on California’s Central Coast.

We drove past the day’s final destination (Monterey) and turned off Highway 1 into Carmel-by-the-Sea, where we parked on the outskirts of downtown and explored on foot. For some reason, I distinctly remember my Dad talking about stopping in Monterey and Carmel when we were in California when I was two or three years old. I was too young to remember that trip, but eager to check out the towns in adulthood.

Carmel is such an enchanting little town, with fairytale cottages nestled in little nooks down every street surrounded by ivy- and flower-covered buildings housing quaint shops and restaurants. It was lunchtime so our first priority was food. We stopped at the 5th Ave Deli in downtown Carmel to pick up boxed lunches and a few small bottles of wine and then headed down to the beach. We picked a little spot on log on the beautiful white sand beaches and had a little picnic. Or the best picnic ever. It was 67 degrees, sunny and the view was unbeatable.

Our view from lunch:
It was simple, but probably the most amazing lunch I have ever had. We hung out for awhile, enjoying our wine and admiring the coastline. I can’t say I subscribe to the whole “West Coast in the best coast” line of thinking, but the coast IS simply fantastic — there’s just nothing like it on the East Coast.

We walked down to the water after a bit and Joel dipped his (shoe-covered) toes in the Pacific for the first time. I didn’t want to leave but we had plenty more to see: a walk back through Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach and then onto Monterey.

LOVE this.

Our next stop was actually a million different stops. Or so it felt. We went on the 17-Mile Drive, a scenic route through the famed Pebble Beach resort that takes up a good chunk of the peninsula. It was $10 to enter the private community but well worth it. There’s something like 21 different stops along the route. We somehow kept turning off the route but managed to finally navigate our way through and stop at a few highlights:

Cypress Point
More Cypress Point
The Lone Cypress, a Monterey Cypress hanging out on a granite hillside by itself.
A few silly seals (sea lions? Still not totally sure of the difference) at a stop I can’t remember the name of … Fanshell Lookout maybe? There was a fence that was difficult to shoot through, but I just held the camera over the top of the fence and hoped for the best. It wasn’t a bad idea, because I got a few good shots of these guys, lounging as if there wasn’t a bunch of on-lookers.
Seal Rock. Cool place but the smell was HORRENDOUS in some of the areas. I thought I was going to puke it was so nasty. I think it was the nasty gulls.
Funky house across from Seal Rock
Tired of getting out of the car so Seal Rock was our last stop. We enjoyed the rest of the views from the car window.

We got lost again getting out of Pebble Beach but finally found our way out and headed into Monterey. We stopped in the Cannery Row area which was way too reminiscent of the ultra-touristy Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. We found a little pub in the area and watched a little football, drank some local beer and got a lesson in how to tell if a baseball cap is well-made by an older gentleman.

The Monterey Canning Company building

Our resting place for the night, Hotel 1110, was a few miles away. When we checked in it was still happy hour, so we each got a free drink at the rooftop bar. There was a nice breeze blowing as the sun started to set.

West coast trip

We were pretty tired at that point, so we found a local sushi place to get takeout from and spent the evening relaxing in our room with drinks and food. It was a nice, chill evening indoors before another busy day — we had exploring the Pacific Coast Highway and ATV riding on dunes ahead of us!

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