Posts Tagged ‘17-Mile Drive’

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!

 

 

 

 

8 Attractions Not to be Missed on the Monterey Peninsula

Friday, September 27th, 2013
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 Head Concierge, Anne Roberts

Guest Post!

8 Attractions Not to be Missed on the Monterey Peninsula

By Anne Roberts, Portola Hotel & Spa, Head Concierge & Member of Les Clefs d’Or USA

Nearly four million people visit the Monterey Peninsula every year and whether they are traveling for business or pleasure, visitors are all are faced with the same problem – how to fit everything into one trip.

As Head Concierge at the Portola Hotel & Spa, I have the pleasure of playing tourist, visiting all the amazing destinations throughout the local region.  I love receiving recommendations and feedback from both locals and tourists alike, and along with my personal experiences, am excited to share my list of the top eight activities not to be missed when exploring the Monterey Peninsula.

1.  Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium should be at the top of everyone’s “to do” list when visiting the Monterey Peninsula, it truly is the best aquarium in the world! Located on historical Cannery Row (right off the Coastal Recreation Trail) at the site of an actual former sardine cannery, the Aquarium is not only home to thousands of plants and animals (more than 600 species are on display), but it also serves as a non-profit to inspire conservation of the world’s oceans. Visitors to the aquarium will be wowed by its giant live kelp forest and the popular sea life found in its many exhibits including stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, hammerhead sharks, penguins, seahorses, blue fin tuna, yellow fin tuna and, if you are lucky, great white sharks that are temporarily housed at the aquarium from time to time. There are interactive exhibits for children and the adults can take part in special evening events that include wine and live music during the summer.

If you go…there are less  people there in the afternoon. Buy your tickets at our Front Desk and you won’t have to wait in line.

 

2.  Whale Watching

Attracting permanent marine residence and passerbies, the Monterey Bay is home to an underwater canyon that is actually much deeper than the Grand Canyon and creates a super highway for both creatures or the sea and sky. Some of the most famous visitors include a number of whale species that migrate through the area throughout the year including killer whales, humpbacks, blue whales and grey whales. There are many whale watching tours offered around the Monterey Bay, including one that is a five-minute walk from the Portola, located on Fisherman’s Wharf. Tourists and locals flock to these tours to see not only whales, but also catch a glimpse of dolphins, rare birds, seals, sea otters, pelicans, sharks and other creatures that are cruising through or have made their home in the Monterey Bay.

If you go… dress warmly with lots of layers including a waterproof option. Also, book a morning trip, as it is the best time to spot sea life.

 

3. Carmel-By-The-Sea

Located about 10 minutes south of Portola is the beautiful town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. This charming town provides visitors with shops, art galleries, restaurants and wine tasting all within one-square mile. Home to Clint Eastwood, who was once the Mayor, Carmel’s unique European-style village attracts fans from all over the world. The food choices range from superior French cuisine to American hamburgers and fries. Shopaholics will be welcomed by familiar brand names and one-of-a kind boutiques and art lovers can spend hours roaming the galleries that contain both modern and contemporary art along with everything in between. The Monterey Peninsula is lush with wineries and many of the most famous have tasting rooms located right in downtown Carmel. Wine fans should not miss the new Wine Walk By-the-Sea Passport, which guides visitors through seven Carmel tasting rooms.

If you go…don’t miss out on talking a stroll or packing a picnic to enjoy at the famous Carmel Beach, with its teal waters, white sand and views of the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, it is quintessential California!

 

4.  Big Sur for Lunch

The world famous beauty of Big Sur is located about 45 minutes from Portola and offers spectacular scenery that can be easily viewed through the car window.  Highway 1 provides its visitors with views of jagged cliffs, lush green pastures, waterfalls and gorgeous redwoods. Take a drive down Highway 1 and fuel up at one of Big Sur’s five-star restaurants or local watering hole. Many of the restaurants themselves offer unique views, friendly staff and spectacular, farm to table offerings.

If you go… due to its rugged terrain, the weather in Big Sur can be unpredictable so be sure to dress in layers.

 

5.  Hike Point Lobos

Known for its breathtaking views, easy to manage hiking trails and abundant sea life, Point Lobos is a great place to spend a few hours or an entire day. There are a number of hiking trails that start from the parking lot with the majority of them being perfect for beginners. The wildlife is spectacular – humpback whales migrate through the area from April until December and gray whales can be seen during their migration mid-December until mid-April. During low tide, explore the tide pools to view starfish and sand dollars and often times there is a sea otter to spot amongst seals and sea birds.

If you go… pick up a trail map at the entrance kiosk to navigate the park and beware of waves crashing on the rocks – if you get to close you will get wet!

 

6.  Carmel Valley Wine Tasting

Head down Highway 1 toward Carmel and go inland about 20 miles and you will be right in the middle of Carmel Valley, home to approximately 20 tasting rooms, restaurants, shops and galleries. Located far enough inland to avoid coastal fog and nestled next to the Santa Lucia Range, Carmel Valley provides a warm environment that is favorable to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other red varietals. The Valley is also known to produce exceptionally good Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandels. From elegant French-style tasting rooms at the Chateau Julien Winery to the laid-back walk-able environment of Carmel Valley Village, wine and food enthusiasts alike will delight in a day the taste buds are sure to enjoy.

If you go… be sure to bring clothes appropriate for warm weather especially during the summer and fall months, as it can be 20-30 degrees warmer than along the coast.

 

7.  Carmel Mission

A great stop during a day visit to Carmel is the Carmel Mission, one of the most famous missions in California. Known formally as the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, this Roman Catholic mission church dates back to 1770 when Father Junipero Serra served until his death in 1784. Today, it is one of the most authentically restored mission churches in all of California and is still an active parish church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey. Visitors can tour the property and its museum’s that take visitors on a journey through the Mission’s history and restoration efforts. The grounds are completely breathtaking with ancient structures and sculptures, lush gardens and beautiful stained glass windows.

If you go… remember it is still an active parish so there may be weddings, funerals and other activities that prevent you from seeing everything on the grounds.

 

8.  Walking Tour of Monterey State Historical Park

Did you know that Monterey was the first state Capital of California? The Monterey State Historical Park, located just outside the doors of Portola, is rich in history providing a collection of significant historical houses and buildings with colorful gardens and overall beautiful scenery. The historical park stands to preserve places and objects that are of historical significance including 12 buildings and several residences. Among the attractions stands the spot where the Spanish explorers first landed in Monterey in 1602, the oldest building in California known as the Custom House and one of the nation’s last remaining whalebone sidewalks.

If you go…be sure and stop by the Pacific House Museum for more information on the buildings and their viewing options, as many of the historic adobes can only be viewed with a State Park Guide. Stop by my desk for a self guided walking map.

 

Visit one or all on your next trip to Monterey and stop by my desk at the Portola to say “hi”! I look forward to your impressions and receiving YOUR insider tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Monterey Bay vacation. Every day I look forward to learning something new!

Happy Travels!

 

 

 

Summer Festivals in Monterey

Friday, May 10th, 2013
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As many know, the Monterey Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places on earth. From the rugged coastline of Big Sur and the serene inlets of Moss Landing’s Elkhorn Slough to the winding trails of Carmel Valley and the Fort Ord National Monument, there is something for everyone. While those attractions are available throughout the year, some of the Peninsula’s most popular attractions only come around every 365 days.

Monterey and the surrounding area have long been synonymous with music and art of many kinds and nothing exemplifies that better than the summer festivals that make Monterey their home. The granddaddy is the Monterey Jazz Festival September 20-23, 2013. The longest continuously running jazz festival in the world, the MJF has continued to hold its September dates since 1958 and has features some of the biggest names in Jazz and popular music. Not to be outdone is the Carmel Bach Festival which is celebrating its 76th year with 15 days of performances, talks and educational events July 13-27, 2013.

 

Monterey stamped itself on the counterculture scene with the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, which was the blueprint for future musical spectacles like Woodstock and Lollapalooza and continues the tradition today, although with a slightly mellower vibe. The California Roots Music & Arts festival gets the summer started right, Memorial Day Weekend May 24-26, 2013. The good times continue August 9-11, 2013 with the Monterey Bay Reggaefest. In its 18th year, the festival is one of the largest in Northern California and features over 20 performers.

The ear has been satisfied, but how about the mouth? The food festival season kicks off with Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The three day event, May 17-19, 2013, focuses on sustainability and environmental stewardship in the food and beverage industry.  Also that weekend is the 54th annual Castroville Artichoke Festival. Celebrate California’s newly crowned State Vegetable and soak in a bit of history as the Festival counts a young Marilyn Monroe as one of their first “Artichoke Queens.” Memorial Day weekend features the Great Monterey Clam Chowder & Calamari Festival as two of the peninsula’s favorite seafood dishes collide at Custom House Plaza behind the Portola Hotel & Spa. If you are a wine lover, the area also plays host to the Monterey Wine Festival, June 7-8, 2013 and the Winemaker’s Celebration on August 10, 2013.  Both showcase the best of Monterey County’s vast winemaking region which was recently named one of the “Top 10 Wine Travel Destinations” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Ear; check. Mouth; check, but what about your eyes? Monterey also hosts a number of summertime art festivals and while music and food are certainly considered art, these are the traditional forms are highlighted at events like the Carmel Art Festival May 16-19, 2013. With its origins as a bohemian artist colony, Carmel-By-The-Sea plays host as the 20th annual event that showcases visual arts, sculpture, a judged plein air painting competition and much more. Three weeks later, the Valley gets into the act with the Carmel Valley Art & Wine Festival June 8, 2013. Carmel Valley Village comes alive as over 60 artists and art galleries display their works. Sand City, Monterey County’s hotbed of alternative art and vision hosts the Sand City West End Celebration August 23-25, 2013. Known for its independent and irreverent artistic atmosphere, the West End Celebration features and open air artist’s fair throughout the streets and the public is invited into the many studios and creative spaces that call Sand City home.

So if the dog days of summer are getting you down or you need to break for the coast to beat the heat, cruise into Monterey County and enjoy the eclectically rich summer festival scene. There truly is something for everyone!

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.

Events on the Monterey Peninsula

Monday, August 13th, 2012
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Everyone knows that the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula is without question. Whether you are walking along the Coastal Recreation Trail, driving the scenic 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach or hiking the winding trails of Big Sur, the sights and sounds of this wonderful area are there to behold on a daily basis. But what to do when you are done with all nature has to offer? How about experiencing any one of the numerous local and world-class events held right here on the Central Coast. Check out what’s on tap this August and September:

  • Monterey Auto Week – August 13 – 19
  • Pebble Beach Concours d ’Elegance – August 15 – 19
  • “Beauty & the Beast” at the Forest Theater – August 16 - 19
  • Sand City West End Celebration – August 24 – 26
  • Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road Stopover at the Monterey Fairgrounds – August 25
  • Turkish Festival – August 25
  • Monterey County Fair – August 29 – September 3
  • Monterey Bay Greek Festival – September 1 – 3
  • Tri-California Triathlon at Pacific Grove – September 7 – 9
  • Fiesta Italia – September 7 – 9
  • Continental Sports Car Festival – September 7 – 12
  • 2nd Annual Monterey Beer Garden – September 22
  • Blue Ocean Film Festival – September 24 - 30
  • Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival – September 28 – 30