Archive for the ‘Explore Monterey’ Category

Sea Otters

Thursday, March 21st, 2013
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Of all the wonderful and exciting things to experience on the Monterey Peninsula, perhaps one of the most cherished and beloved is the Sea Otter. Standing (well, laying, really) only three and a half feet long and weighing in at about 75 pounds, the Sea Otter is the Monterey Peninsula’s furry mascot, welcome wagon and tourist attraction all rolled into one.

A part of the weasel family and owner of the densest coat of fur in the animal kingdom, the Sea Otter makes it home in the fish rich kelp forests of the Northern Pacific Coasts. A veracious eater, the Sea Otter is widely recognized for their use of tools, using rocks to break open shellfish and crustaceans. Although still an endangered species, the Sea Otter population has rebounded since the early 1900’s making it an important success story for marine and ocean conservation.

One of the greatest joys of visiting the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the many ways to observe our furry fish eating friend. There is of course the Monterey Bay Aquarium where you can not only observe, but learn about this important member of our ecosystem (re-opening their Otter Exhibit March 23!). For the more adventurous, Adventures By The Sea offers kayak and stand up paddle board rentals for individuals and  groups which bring you close enough to see the Otters in their natural habitat without disturbing them. You don’t have to go out of your way, however, to catch a glimpse of the Sea Otter. Simply stroll along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, just outside the Portola Hotel & Spa and with a pair of binoculars or even a sharp pair of eyes, chances are you’ll see an otter or two playing or dining in the kelp beds just off shore. It’s truly an amazing experience and one ALL visitors to the Monterey Peninsula should not miss.

Aquarium for Two Package

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
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Photograph Monterey Bay Aquarium©

It’s easy to find adventure when you are traveling by yourself, with your significant other or with friends, but finding something exciting to do with your family that keeps your interest can become an adventure in and of itself. That’s why the Monterey Bay Aquarium is such a great choice. Not only is it located right on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, on historic Cannery Row, but it is chalk full of amazing and educational exhibits and interactive activities for kids and adults alike.

The fabulous Jellies Experience is now open and there are countless other interesting this to experience and explore. There is the Splash Zone that allows kids of all ages to engage with ocean inhabitants and feedings at each of the exhibits and countless other things to do. The Portola Hotel & Spa offers a wonderful Aquarium Package for Two. Not only is the Portola within walking distance to the Aquarium, but this package has it all! With the Portola Hotel Aquarium for Two Package, you get a nautically inspired and elegantly appointed guest room of your choice, two adult Aquarium tickets good for two consecutive days and the Portola’s famous warm homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival. Additionally, you also receive a delicious breakfast buffet for two at Jacks Restaurant and complimentary use of the fitness center. Guests can also purchase additional tickets right at the front desk and the Portola’s friendly and knowledgeable staff has a host of other activities and family-friendly things to do. It’s important to remember that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is more than just a place to look at the creatures of the ocean. They are one of the foremost research facilities in the world and are the stewards of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program.

So the next time you are looking a fun-filled family getaway that gives back, look no further that the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Aquarium for Two Package. You’ll be glad that you did, and so will the fish!

Stars on the Monterey Peninsula

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
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With the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am now over, the celebrity count on the Monterey Peninsula may have fallen…but that does not mean that celebrity has left the Peninsula entirely. In fact, the area has been a stomping ground for entertainment’s biggest stars. From movies and music, to the arts and professional sports, the biggest names often use the Peninsula for escape, inspiration and even invention.

Star wattage on the Central Coast starts and stops with John Steinbeck. One of America’s most famous and most respected writers, many of his novels were based in and around the area. From Salinas’ East of Eden, Of Mice and Men and Monterey’s Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, Steinbeck lived and breathed the Monterey Peninsula, as did other noted authors and poets including Robert Louis Stevenson, Robinson Jeffers and Henry Miller.

Movie stars have also made and continue to make their homes on the Peninsula. It’s no wonder with the area’s proximity to Los Angeles and slower pace of life, Monterey County and beyond, has played host to a number of notable movies, television shows and numerous commercials. If you want a closer look, check out Monterey Movie Tours Highlights include the locations from scenes in From Here to Eternity, Turner & Hooch and Play Misty For Me, just to name a few. Doris Day, Clint Eastwood and George Lopez call Pebble Beach home and let’s not forget that most of old Hollywood were at one time or another, residents or frequent visitors to the area.

How about our friends in the music industry? Well, since the 1950’s, the Monterey Jazz Festival has graced our area with the biggest names in jazz and at the time, popular music holding court at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. The popularity of that ongoing musical masterpiece let way to the seminal music experience that started it all, The Monterey Pop Festival.  Big names will often grace the more intimate venues of the area as they travel between the arenas in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The Sunset Center in Carmel, the Golden State Theatre in Monterey and the Rodeo Grounds in Salinas have all seen world famous acts and rocker Frank Zappa, the Eagles and jazz musician Kenny G have called the area home.

If sports are your “game”, the Peninsula has plenty of high powered athletic residents. NFL coaches and referees, Jim Tunney, Herm Edwards, John Madden and Ron Rivera along with Hall of Fame Member James Lofton live here, as do Olympic athletes, Nick Cunningham, Gary Figueroa and Blake Russell. Professional baseball and softball residents include: Reggie Jackson, Pete Incaviglia, Mike Aldrete and Monica Abbott. As always, golf plays a big part of the culture of the Peninsula with many notable PGA & LPGA players either growing up here or now making their home here including Bobby Clampett, Johnny Miller and Julie Inkster.

So, if it’s star power you want without the traffic and smog of Los Angeles or the chaos of New York City, the Monterey Peninsula may just be what you are looking for – beauty and just the right amount of glitz and glamour.

The “Best Weekend in Monterey”

Monday, December 24th, 2012
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With the holiday season and winter finally here the special events and happenings in Monterey are as plentiful as relatives and leftovers. Choosing what to do and where to go can be overwhelming, so your friends here at Central Coast Living have put together, in our humble opinion, an itinerary for what we would like to think of as the “Best Weekend in Monterey” during the holidays.

The weekend starts off on Friday afternoon with a relaxing walk along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. Unwind and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as you walk or bike along the coast. From Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, it’s just over two miles of paved and rolled trail with views of Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hopkins Marine Station and the stately Victorian-era homes lining the way Lovers Point Park of Pacific Grove.

After working up an appetite, return to Fisherman’s Wharf and explore the shops and restaurants while sampling some of California’s freshest seafood.  Evening activities can include theatric or musical entertainment at one of Monterey’s many venues or depending on the weekend of your visit, holiday-themed activities including various tree lightings, historic tours of seasonally decorated buildings and special cultural and wine events.

Saturday brings a day full of activities and none greater than the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Whether a couple or a family, you are sure to be amazed by the variety of exhibits and hands-on educational opportunities. There are so many interesting areas that you might want to take two days to fully explore the Aquarium, but if one day is all you have time for, be sure to check out their newest exhibit, The Jellies Experience. You’ll learn what makes the jellyfish one of the most intriguing animals on land or sea. With the Aquarium behind you, stroll along historic Cannery Row and immerse yourself in the world of John Steinbeck while shopping and taking in the sites.

There is no better way to enjoy a trip to Monterey during the holidays than with a visit to Ice Skating on the Bay. Located directly behind the Portola Hotel & Spa on the Custom House Plaza, the seasonal ice skating rink is open from 11am – 10pm Monday through Saturday and from 12pm to 8pm on Sunday’s. After reliving childhood memories or creating new ones with your kids, head over to the Portola Hotel & Spa for your choice of dinner options. Jacks Restaurant offers an upscale dining experience featuring locally sourced, sustainable ingredients throughout the menu and an impressive wine list, all created under the expert culinary eye of Executive Chef Jason Giles. If you are in the mood for something more laid back, then relax in Peter B’s Brewpub. As Monterey’s only craft brewery features a delicious pub fare with a wide variety of beer brewed directly on site. Brewmaster Kevin Clark’s award winning seasonal brews pair perfectly with the menu and with 15 HDTV’s you are sure to find the game of your choice.

While Sunday may be the day of your departure you can still experience much more in Monterey. Walk historic Alvarado Street just steps from the Portola and treat yourself to pastries and coffee at one of the many café’s and then immerse yourself in the history of Old Monterey along the self-guided Path of History. You’ll encounter a variety of historic buildings and landmarks detailing Monterey as the first capitol city of California. With so much more to offer, the Monterey Peninsula must be experienced in more than just a weekend. Check back with us throughout the year as we give you tips and ideas on how to experience the seasons and the scenery of Monterey and beyond!

Fall Fun

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
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Fall means leaves change colors and kids go back to school,

But it also means witches, ghosts, goblins and ghouls

 

Bats and broomsticks and things that go bump in the night,

It’s costumes and candy and fun and a fright

 

But Halloween is more than scary things,

It’s friends and family and doorbells to ring

 

Trick or Treat is heard on that special day

Here’s some Halloween themed events throughout the Bay

 

The staff at the Portola Hotel & Spa loves Halloween – check out our staff’s favorite picks for a spook-tacular time during your October visit.