Archive for the ‘Explore Monterey’ Category

August Happenings On & Around the Monterey Bay

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
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No matter what weekend you decide to make Monterey your summer getaway, chances are there’s a festival just waiting for you to enjoy.  With everything from the Scottish and Greek Festivals to the Watsonville Strawberry Festival, there’s no shortage of good food, fun entertainment and great excitement to be had!

Start off with a weekend of sweet strawberry bliss and the annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 2-3, 2014.  A two-day festival in historic downtown Watsonville, this event showcases the strawberry, one of Monterey County’s most famous crops.  Free admission to all and fun for the whole family, the festival features delicious food, premier live entertainment, an exciting carnival and the beloved gooey strawberry contest.

Also on the same weekend is the 47th Annual Scottish Games and Celtic Festival. This event brings the tartan of Scotland and the green of the Emerald Island to Monterey from 9am – 5pm on August 2-3, 2014. Featuring authentic music, dance and athletic events there are activities galore for the whole family. One of the centerpieces of the festival is the pipe band competition where teams of bagpipers and drummers toe the line to see who is best. Throw in Highland and Irish dancers, as well as arts and crafts and you have an experience not to be missed.

Next, let a quick trip down to Monterey’s historic Custom House Plaza transport you to exotic Greece for the annual Greek Festival.  A favorite event for locals and visitors alike, the Monterey Bay Greek festival offers three full days of Greek culture and excitement, set amid the charming backdrop of Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  With free admission you can enjoy a weekend full of authentic Greek cuisine, live music and dancing.  Kicking off Monterey’s beautiful Indian Summer, the festivities, spanning from August 30 -September 1, 2014, will have you feeling Greek in no time.

These are just three of the many exciting August activities on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. So whether you are a local or a visitor, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of the more colorful countries and cuisines of the world, Monterey style.

 

We can’t wait to see you here!

Best Beaches on the Monterey Peninsula

Friday, July 11th, 2014
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It’s common knowledge that the Monterey Bay has one of the most beautiful coastlines on the entire planet. But with all those miles of photo-worthy shore, how can you tell which beach is right for you? Central Coast Living’s team has visited them all and here are a few of our favorites!

Located off of Highway 1, just south of Carmel is Carmel River State Beach.  With a lagoon formed by the Carmel River, this California State Park attracts a large number of migratory birds, making it a great place for birders.  Also providing access to notable kelp forests in the area, the beach is a hotspot for scuba divers and kayakers as well.  Not the best place for swimming due to its strong currents, beautiful Carmel River State Beach is better suited for a day in the sand or cozying up to warm fire for s’mores in the evening.

Just a mile north of Carmel River Beach, within charming Carmel-By-The-Sea, is Carmel Beach. Renowned for good surf, soft sand and excellent dog-walking conditions Carmel Beach is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.  Perfect for sandcastle building, it’s no wonder that Carmel Beach annually hosts a beloved sandcastle contest as well as the Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout, one of California’s longest running surf contests.  Even better than the sand under your feet are the evening sunsets painted where the sky meets the sea. Carmel Beach is also an ideal spot for bonfires and evening picnics.

Spanning from Monterey to Seaside, the Monterey State Beach offers a long uninterrupted stretch of sand and surf beginning next to historic Fisherman’s Wharf and ending in Seaside. This popular beach is the perfect place for many outdoor activities, such as surfing, kayaking, swimming, kite flying and even fishing. Look toward the sea and you’ll spot scuba divers emerging from the depths.  Look toward the sky and you’ll find hang gliders soaring over the dunes. Perfect for everyone, Monterey State Beach is a great place for a true California beach experience.

This next beach packs a whole lot of beautiful views and natural diversity into a single mile of coastline.  Providing public access to the Monterey Peninsula’s rocky coastline and dune habitat, Asilomar State Beach is a popular spot for every beach activity from nature walks and surfing to a romantic date night. With a quarter-mile long trail running through the dunes, Asilomar is the perfect place to take in breathtaking views or go for a morning jog.  Explore the little worlds hiding within Asilomar’s many tide pools or set up shop for an evening bonfire.  A fully accessible beach, Asilomar State Park features beach wheelchairs to allow full access to those with limited mobility.  Dog friendly and child-friendly alike, Asilomar is a great family beach.

One of Pacific Grove’s most beloved landmarks, Lovers Point Beach is a favorite for both P.G. natives and visitors alike.  With a safely protected seashore perfect for children, a rec trail wrapping around the iconic coastline, and lovely Lovers Point Park overlooking the rugged Pacific, Lovers Point is the perfect beach destination for families and visitors of all ages.  Enjoy a game of volleyball while overlooking the water, or bring your children to play in the Lovers Point Children’s Pool.  Enjoy a run on the rec trail or take your dog for a walk with a view.  Featuring bike, surrey and kayak rentals during the high season, Lovers Point has been named Best Place for a Wedding for several years running. So if you are looking for the perfect blend of romance and family fun, look no further than Lovers Point Beach and Park.

From small hidden beaches and long stretches of shoreline to rocky points and quiet tide pools, Monterey Peninsula’s cost offers something for everyone. The next time you visit Monterey, discover how many things there are to do at the beach!

Unforgettable Beach Picnics on the Monterey Peninsula

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
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For many people summertime means lazy days in the sun, kicking back with good friends and good food!  In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate this tradition then heading to the beach for an old fashioned picnic.  The Portola Hotel & Spa has some fun tips to create you perfect beach picnic!

 

Step One – choosing the right beach. The Monterey Peninsula is filled with amazing beaches and each one comes with unique scenery and features. Here are some favorites along with what makes each location so special.

Del Monte State Beach – Just a short walk from Portola is the Del Monte State Beach, which spans from the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf to Seaside. The long stretch of beach allows picnic goers to find their own intimate spot in the sand or a grab a picnic table and watch the crowds go by on Monterey’s bike trail. Dogs are welcome on this beach and the water is perfect for boogie boarding and surfing. Great for activities for all ages, it is ideal for flying kites, playing catch or a game of volleyball with courts located right off the beach. For picnickers that are planning to stick around after sunset, be sure to bring ingredients for S’mores along with firewood, since beach fires are permitted.

Lovers Point – The teal waters, protected swimming coves and tide pools galore make Lovers Point the perfect spot for picnics! Make camp on the sandy beach or in the park just above the beach at the picnic tables. A protective cove makes this beach a little warmer than the others and once lunch is fully digested, wade into the Bay or take a dip in the Lovers Point Children’s Pool open daily from noon to 4:30pm.  Kayak and paddle board rentals are also available at the beach from Adventures by the Sea.

Asilomar State Beach – Just south from Monterey in Pacific Grove are the white sands of Asilomar State Beach. Asilomar is Spanish for “refuge by the sea,” and it lives up to this name. Picnickers and their dogs too, can spend all day walking the boardwalks surrounding the beach and the sand dunes, exploring tide pools and watching the surfers catch big waves, as a State designated beach, beach fires are also permitted.

Carmel Beach – Bright blue waves, white sand and dogs galore await you at Carmel Beach. The long stretch of beach with views of golfers on the Pebble Beach golf course, quaint Carmel homes and the luscious scenery of Point Lobos will keep picnickers entertained for hours. The world-renowned beach attracts people from all over the world to picnic by day, take in the beautiful sunset and set up bonfires by night.

 

Step Two – food and beverage. The Monterey Peninsula is jammed packed with great restaurants and cafés that serve food to go. We have picked a few that will delight the taste buds with a little local flavor!

Jacks Restaurant & Lounge – Located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa, Jacks is one of the Peninsula’s most popular spots for lunch and is available for take-out.  As a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program, Jacks is committed to using healthy, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients.  Jacks lunch menu features a Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich, Whole Wheat Chicken Wrap and a Classic Club Sandwich, just right to pack in your picnic basket. For something a little lighter, try their Warm Chicken & Cashew Salad or a Crispy Dungeness Crab Cake Salad, pair these with the perfect wine and you’ll be all set!

Happy Girl Kitchen – Two blocks form the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Happy Girl Kitchen is a café and cannery that specializes in house-made baked goods. Delicious organic breakfast and lunch options include sandwiches, soups and delicious cheese and cracker plates. This spot also specializing in preserves so be sure to grab one of the jams, pickles or a jar of local honey.

Troia’s Market – Located just a few blocks up the hill from Portola, Troia’s Market is a great place to stop to pick up traditional quality deli sandwiches, a selection of sides such as potatoes salad and other homemade options such as mac and cheese, salads and lasagna. There is a vast assortment of snacks to grab and a nice beverage selection for those of age.

Whole Foods Market – Located right off the freeway at the Munras exit, Whole Foods is a great option for picnickers on their way to Asilomar or Carmel Beach. Offering a full service deli, sushi bar and big selection of ready food to go, Whole Foods is a great place to stop to ensure that everyone in the picnic party will be able to enjoy their favorite food on the beach.

Wine – What is a great beach day without a bottle of wine? Just steps from Portola are two great places to pick up world famous local Monterey County wines. Stop in Wine From the Heart or Terranova Fine Wines to taste a few before purchasing your new favorite bottle and heading to the beach.

It’s hard to go wrong on the Monterey Peninsula when selecting a location along with food and beverage for a picnic. Don’t forget sunscreen, towels, a blanket, chairs, sand toys and a football or volleyball!

When it comes down to it, finding the time to relax and be around loved ones is precious, so get out there and have day on the Peninsula that everyone will remember!

Staycations are the Best!

Friday, May 16th, 2014
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Calling all exhausted parents, worn out families, and couples in need of a romantic rendezvous in the 831; this post is for you!

Just because there’s no time for an actual vacation doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a break.  Monterey’s Portola Hotel and Spa is here to provide the perfect solution!  Why not skip the hassle of booking flights and hotel rooms out of the area, and take a staycation instead.  You don’t have to leave the country to get out of the house.  All you need to achieve the relaxing staycation you so well deserve is a small bag and a quick drive to downtown Monterey.

Reserve a luxurious room and enjoy all of the lavish amenities that Portola has to offer.  Spend your days in rejuvenation at Spa on the Plaza.  Drop in for a facial or a heavenly massage, after, take a relaxing steam or kick back in the sauna. Perhaps taking a dip in the pool is more your style, cozy up in one of the private cabanas on the pool deck and read that book you’ve been meaning to finish for the past few months! After, stop by the concierge desk and play tourist for a day.  Explore the town you live in through a fresh set of eyes and try out new attractions you’ve been too busy to investigate.

You don’t have to go far to experience the bliss of being pampered.  Take a the day off from cooking and experience the Portola’s very own Jacks Restaurant & Lounge or Monterey’s first craft brewery, Peter B’s Brewpub.   After dinner, spend your evening on a moonlight walk along Old Fisherman’s Wharf or stroll nearby beaches and listen to the peaceful sounds of the tide going in and out.

You may not have time to be a full-blown jetsetter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a local weekend getaway.  Make the Portola Hotel and Spa your next staycation destination.

Happy travels!

The Monterey Bay Spring Foodcast – Guest Staff Member Post

Friday, April 25th, 2014
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This spring, treat your taste buds to some of the most appetizing restaurants in Monterey. The neighboring Salinas Valley, fondly known as ”Salad Bowl of the World”, Monterey County yields a great portion of California’s rich agriculture. Savor, locally grown fresh strawberries, raspberries and the unique olallieberry and make sure peruse the amazing, fresh produce across the way at the Wharf Marketplace and Farm Stand at Earthbound Farms in Carmel Valley.

Take note from our lovable whales, Monterey is the place to be this feeding season. Whether it’s fresh seafood from the Bay or succulent grapes picked from our world-class California vineyards, get your palate ready for the remarkable food and beverages served at our restaurants in Monterey.

Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, inside the Portola Hotel & Spa

For an elegant breakfast, lunch and/or dinner experience, visit Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, located in the Portola Hotel & Spa. Known for their fresh ingredients and impressive wine list, Jack’s exemplifies California’s scrumptious reputation while putting a unique Monterey spin on every plate leaving the kitchen. This kid-friendly restaurant offers a European-style breakfast buffet, an Oyster bar, and an award-winning salad bar. Enjoy your Californian cuisine in the comfort of Jack’s nautical dining room, fireside lounge or take advantage of California’s spring weather on the pet-friendly heated patio.

 

Peter B’s Brewpub, behind the Portola Hotel & Spa

If you’re looking for a bit more amusement in your dining experience, check out Peter B’s Brewpub, also family-friendly and located right behind the Portola Hotel & Spa. This local favorite features some of the best house-made craft brews in Monterey County and a complementing menu of beer-inspired dishes. Dine on the pet-friendly patio or inside with 18 HDTVs and a pool table.

Your taste buds will not be disappointed during your next Monterey Bay visit!