Carmel & Monterey | Grabbing Life by the Moments in Monterey County - There Goes Monica

Carmel & Monterey | Grabbing Life by the Moments in Monterey County

5:15 PM

This post is sponsored by See Monterey but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

A few weeks ago, Linqia contacted me with an opportunity to write about Monterey County. For those who don’t know, Linqia is a influencer community that conduct campaigns for all sorts of brands. Check it out if you are beginning your influencer journey. Holding down 2 jobs, school, and family commitments; I was frustrated, there was no way I could go to Monterey. Little did I know the universe had something else in mind.  In weeks leading up to the Monterey Road trip a couple of events happened, my soul sister graduated college and I was approved for 2 weeks of vacation at my main job. I took it as a sign and told my family who, jumped at the chance of a road trip. I said Yes to Linqia and started planning a very aggressive travel itinerary of 2 weeks.  Let me start by saying two things 1) never underestimate your first time in Vegas, and 2) keep your body healthy if you are planning trips back-to-back.  A Post on Vegas will be up in the upcoming weeks.

Let me jump into Monterey by saying I knew nothing about it. The only time I remember reading on Monterey was in some American Girl books in grade school. Yes, I do live in California, but California is a huge state. Some people die without ever discovering the “other part”, that is how big this state is.

Getting There

We started our Monterey Journey on a Friday Night. It was very cold and the traffic was terrible ( LA really needs to cut back on the people). We spend our first night in a place we would wake up to know as the beginning of the middle of nowhere, also known as Gaviota, CA. I do not know if it’s the fact that we travel inland most of the time or that there are no friendly truck stops on the HWY 101 route that it seemed lonely. We woke up bright and early to hit the road again after a very nutritious McDonalds breakfast. Somewhere along the way, we left the HWY 1 and landed on the 101 that lead us through very interesting and uncharted territories. Yes, we managed to get off track and then drive through the parts of Los Padres National Forest to get to Carmel. Was it beautiful? Yes. Did we get lost a couple of times? Yes.  We arrived in Carmel by 10 AM, right in time for a little morning sea breeze. We took on some sign seeing and then headed up to Monterey to explore Cannery Road.

What to Do

Carmel Beach:
This is the beach I woke up to and let me tell you, its magnificent. The water is more of a Caribbean blue and the scenery is straight out of a movie. You can walk along the beach and fine painters, trinket sellers, and amazing architecture. The houses facing the Carmel Beach are some of the most beautiful and quaint that only compare to the real estate available in the nicest parts of Coronado Island. It’s the perfect spot if you are traveling with a fur friend as most of the people I encountered were walking various pets on the scenic bluff path. They also allow pets leash-free on the beach!

Carmel Plaza & Shopping:
After the beach, we decided to head in to town and get some shopping and sighting in. Parking is off the street or in the Carmel Plaza which I believe does not go over $10 per visit. We decided to park off street and walk around. Carmel Plaza is filled with middle to high-end shops ranging from Kate Spade to Bottega Veneta. It’s the perfect spot for a person trying to find the newest season of items available and curated to perfection. Surrounding Carmel Plaza there is what felt like hundreds of unique shops. You can anything from souvenirs to high-end paper and pen shops. Being a girl that mostly frequents shopping malls filled with mainstream brands, I had never seen such a variety of art shops in one place.

Monterey Cannery Road:
Cannery Road is one of the most historically rich places along the pacific. Rising from the settlement of Native Americans, Asians, and Europeans, Cannery road once a huge hub for the fishing industry now a major Monterey attraction has been through hell and back. After two devastating fires, Cannery road has transformed into the the home of renown resorts, restaurants, and landmarks as the Monterey Aquarium.

The shops leading down to bay front are perfect for getting yourself or all the loved ones back home souvenirs and art pieces. Being a family that collects magnets (after not having enough space to keep collecting mugs), we decided on this beautiful, hand painted mantaray magnent that we bought at the sea shell company right in front of the bay. Inside the small shopping centers, you can find everything from cooking stores stocked with high-end local produce for neighboring wineries to small museums retelling the history of Monterey Bay.

Another great attraction fit for a foodie is restaurant row facing the bay. So many options from the holiday destination favorites like Bubba Gump to small mom and pop delis that serve some of the best Panini’s and clam chowder I have ever tasted. Most of the restaurant are on the pricier side because of the location so be prepared to pay higher than usual prices. The clam chowder pictured above was $14 before tax, to give you an idea of what to expect.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a destination in itself. With a annual attendance of more than 2 million visitors per year, there has to be a reason for it’s popularity. It’s known for its more than 600 spieces on display and the fact that it sources their water directly from the Monterey Bay. It is located at the end of Cannery Road since its opening in October of 1984. It is a great place to visit for families and marine life aficionados alike. Tickets start around $50 per adult and $30 for children (3-12).

Where to Stay

Intercontinental The Clement Monterey
When I come back, I am staying here, I decided this as soon as I stepped out of the shopping center and this impressive property cached my eye. It sits right next to the Monterey Aquarium and in the middle of the Cannery Road hustle and bustle. Rates start at $350 for a Saturday Night stay and depend on holidays and availability.

Monterey Bay Marriott:
If you are like me and a Marriott Rewards member that uses any possible reason to add to your stays/points, this is the place for you. Its located a bit further away from Cannery road but it does offer ocean views from some of the guest rooms and the expected Marriott Hospitality of the Marriott Brand. Rates start at $350 for a Saturday Night Stay and depend on holidays and availability.

Monterey Tides:
Monterey Tides is a boutique hotel located close to Monterey State Beach. It houses 196 rooms in a four story property. It is known for having one of the most relaxed atmospheres and being affordable. Most of the people staying here have commented on the fact that you can hear the waves crashing at night! Rates start at $250 for a Saturday night stay and depend on holidays and availability.

We did not stay in Monterey because it was a last minute trip and the most prominent hotels were fully booked or heavily priced. The 3 hotels mentioned were the ones I was looking to stay at but were either fully booked our out of my budget, (after the Vegas trip) We had also decided early on to drive up to Cupertino that night to get in a visit to the Mothership (Apple Campus) before continuing our journey to San Francisco.

Final Thoughts
If I had one word to describe Monterey County, it would be; breathtaking. I have seen many beautiful places in my short life but, when I got out of the car at the Carmel beach it took my breath away. The water looked like nothing I have ever seen in this coast. The scenery almost looked untouched and preserved throughout time. It felt as if the people decided not to industrialize and modernize but, make the old work with the new. Same can be said for the City of Monterey that in my eyes looked like a movie set. Cannery Road, the intercontinental sitting on the bay and architecture surrounding it seemed restored and preserved in time.

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