Archive for the ‘Explore Monterey’ Category

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!

Win a Second Honeymoon in Beautiful Monterey

Friday, January 17th, 2014
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#MontereyWeddings

I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to plan that second honeymoon, but just haven’t got around to it between, work, kids and life in general! Well, you are in luck, because your chance to have that long overdue romantic getaway is right at your fingertips.  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Portola Hotel & Spa is holding a Second Honeymoon Contest, from which one lucky couple will receive a complimentary one-night stay at the Portola Hotel, along with breakfast for two at their award-winning Jacks Restaurant & Lounge.

What could be better than quality time with your sweetheart at one of the most romantic destinations in California to remind you why you fell in love in the first place?  Nothing beats spending time away, especially when it involves visiting the iconic Monterey Bay coastline and relaxing in luxurious quarters AND most importantly taking in a few peaceful moments for just you and your significant other.

To enter Portola’s Second Honeymoon contest, post your favorite picture from your wedding day on the Portola Hotel & Spa Facebook page accompanied by 50 words or less, telling your favorite memory from your wedding day and don’t forget to include the hashtag #MontereyWeddings in your post. The winning couple will be announced via the Portola’s Facebook page on Valentine’s Day (deadline to enter is February 12th).

This could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for so don’t waste a moment!  Grab your wedding album because a trip down memory lane might be just the thing to inspire some brand new memories.  Who knows, your second honeymoon might even be better than your first!

Best Bets for 2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
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The NEW YEAR is finally upon us and 2014 promises to be jam-packed with excitement.  With all of the fun you’ll be having, the year is sure to fly by, so don’t waste a moment. Here are some of your best bets for spending the New Year on the Monterey Peninsula and beyond.  From wine tastings to outdoor adventures, the Monterey Bay has something for everyone and is the perfect getaway for the whole family.

Family friendly and fun, the breathtaking 17-Mile Drive is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world.  Running from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, this drive features awe-inspiring landscapes and legendary sites, including the Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay, and Stillwater Cove.  17-Mile Drive is perfect for a day of exploration, afternoon drive or a brisk morning jog.  Just don’t forget to bring your camera.

Beloved by Peninsula locals is the Old Monterey Farmers’ Market taking over three and a half blocks of Historic Downtown Monterey every Tuesday afternoon/evening.  Established in 1991 and attracting both locals and tourists, the Old Monterey’s Farmers Market lets you take a spin around the globe in just three blocks, sampling arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, furniture, clothing, food, organic produce, flowers and pastries from local artisans and growers. Rain or shine, you can be certain to find some good food and entertainment.

A prime location for wine enthusiasts from near and far and recently named as a Top 10 Destination by Wine Enthusiast, the Monterey County is home to many vineyards, wine-tasting rooms and festivals.  Year round, you can be sure to find a place to sip delectable samples of some of Monterey’s award-winning varietals. Explore the region’s numerous tasting rooms, experience a guided tour of a vineyard or simply visit one of the many specialty stores, you can experience the rich diversity of tastes available from our local wineries. Check Portola’s very own Wine Trolley Package!

The local region offers plenty of fun for the younger crowd too.  Home to the Monterey Zoo, nothing could be better than a day exploring the animal kingdom on a 51-acre ranch located just off of the Monterey-Salinas Highway.  Home to over 100 wild, exotic, and domestic birds and animals, “Wild Things” promises an afternoon of excitement for the whole family including special rooms available for overnight guests and special events.

For folks who fancy the outdoors, Monterey’s Adventures by the Sea is the perfect way to take advantage of all that the natural beauty the Peninsula has to offer.  Providing options to explore by land or by sea; discover beautiful Monterey Peninsula by bicycle, kayak, or guided tour.  Nothing completes a stay on the Monterey Bay like taking in the majestic sights and historic landmarks of the Peninsula with Adventures by the Sea.

One of the most famous events on the Monterey Peninsula is the internationally renowned Big Sur International Marathon. Whether you’re keen to participate or just enjoy cheering on the runners, this celebrated marathon, taking place on April 27, 2014 is one of the running world’s iconic events. The course traces 26 miles of breathtaking views from Big Sur to Carmel.  Visit the website www.bsim.org for further details and to register online and learn about other races and events throughout the year!

Each year the month of January brings the promise of new adventure and experiences and there is no place better to enjoy them all than right here on the Monterey Bay.

Cheers to a wonderful New Year!