Posts Tagged ‘Big Sur’

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!

Start the New Year Off Right

Friday, December 21st, 2012
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With the “holidaze” upon us and 2013 right around the corner, people are starting to think about what they’d like to do better in the New Year. For some it’s taking up a new hobby or checking something off their bucket list. For others it might be taking a class or perhaps volunteering. But for almost everyone, getting in shape is resolution number one. Many people start off with a great plan, but heading indoors to the gym can become repetitive. Healthy living cannot be understated, but how can you keep yourself interested day in and day out?

We’ve put together a list of the top 10 outdoor activities (in no particular order) which you can do to keep yourself in shape; your mind engaged and increase your appreciation for the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. Some of these activities are low impact and some are higher, but each and every one is available right now and well within your budget.

10. Park It: The California State Parks, Monterey County Parks and Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District all have beautiful and easily accessible offerings just a few minutes away. From the sandy stretch of Asilomar State Beach and the gentle terrain of Toro Park to the secluded serenity of Frog Pond and the incredible vistas of Garland Regional Park, a healthy and invigorating experience await you on the walk or hike of your choice.

9. On Your Right: The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail offers 29 miles of paved perfection winding its way along the coast from Castroville in the north to Pacific Grove and parts of Pebble Beach to the south. The trail is well maintained and is used by bikers, joggers, walkers, and surreys. The trail offers a number of vistas and points of interest along the way. Bike big and tackle the whole trail or take your time and cruise a portion. Either way some of the best views of the Monterey Peninsula are right there in front of you.

8. Fore!: What’s better than spending some quality time with your family or friends? Everyone knows the Monterey Peninsula has some of the world’s best golf, but you don’t have to be Jack Nicklaus to get outside and chase that little white ball. There are a number of public and municipal courses that offer beginning, group and kids lessons and that are easy on the eyes and on the wallet. Pacific Grove Golf Links, Monterey Pines and Ranch Canada are great for those who are new or returning to the game. Laguna Seca Golf Ranch offers a fantastic practice facility and even world famous Pebble Beach boasts Peter Hay a 9-hole pitch and putt right next to its bigger brother.

7. A League of Their Own: The cities on the Monterey Peninsula offer robust Parks and Recreation programs. While each one is slightly different, most of the programs contain organized leagues for a variety of team and individual sports. Whether softball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, volleyball or even bowling, the opportunities to participate in the competition and camaraderie of a league and gain some valuable exercise are priceless. The signup and seasonal information are readily available on the website of your individual city.

6. Doggone Fun: Fido is bored and so are you. Why not take him out for a little quality time and exercise. Anywhere will do and the Monterey Peninsula has a host of pooch-friendly parks, trails and even shopping centers to satisfy event the laziest of “man’s best friends” Carmel is famous for its canine hospitality and Monterey, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Del Rey Oaks and Marina all have dedicated dog parks. If you and your dog are a bit more adventurous, check out some of the great trails available through the Monterey Regional Parks. Some even allow of leash walking, which I am sure Fido will appreciate!

5. Drop and Give Me 20: The main focus of this information us getting in shape in the outdoors and while the traditional gym membership does not fit that our model, (not to say it is bad) there is a great opportunity to get the benefits of a trainer/class environment that gives you all the benefits of Mother Nature. Spa On the Plaza offers a bi-weekly outdoor fitness class called Fitness for Body and Soul, taught by former world class athlete and Exercise Physiologist, Janel Willette. Fitness for Body and Soul is an innovative out door fitness class that integrates a full cardiovascular, strength and flexibility workout with the beauty and natural terrain of the Monterey Bay.

4. More Water Please: It is the Monterey BAY right? So, what list of outdoor fitness options would be complete without mentioning some of our favorite water sports? Yes the water might be a little chilly, but that’s what wetsuits are for and there are a number of places to pick up a suit and the water toy of your choice right on the water. Adventures by the Sea offers a complete selection of kayaks, paddle boards and instructors if needed. You can take a class or head out with a partner and get what many fitness experts call one of the best cardio vascular workouts there is. Plus, there is a very good chance you will run into some of Monterey Bay’s beloved sea creatures.

3. Paddle Away: Equally as rewarding, but somewhat less strenuous are the paddle boats on Lake El Estero in Monterey. You won’t have to brave the ocean, just some curious Canadian Geese, swans and ducks looking for a snack. The boats are perfect for families and while the kid’s oohh and ahhh at the waterfowl; you can say that you got a good solid workout paddling them around the expansive lake.

2. Go Team: Even if you don’t have kids, volunteering as a coach for a YMCA or Rec league team gets you thinking about your health as the kids run by you. Not only can impart some of your knowledge on the younger generation, but you just might learn a thing or two from them as well. You don’t have to be an expert at the pick and roll or the corner kick, just be there and the kids will love it!

“But what if I am just visiting the area? Then take in a local high school or college game. Studies say that you can burn 250-350 calories watching a live sporting event. The Monterey Peninsula offers a high level of prep and intercollegiate athletics with the California State University, Monterey Bay Otters and the Monterey Peninsula College Lobos leading the way. Let local and get loud.

1.  Walk this Way: Lace up your shoes and open the door. A low to moderate impact workout, walking is the easiest way to get in shape and enjoy the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula. You’ll feel like a new person just by reintroducing yourself to the world around you!

Big Sur Food & Wine

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
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 Photo © Big Sur Food & Wine

Big Sur has been the location of movies and commercials and an inspiration to beatniks and metaphysical practitioners. It is beautiful, rugged and has been called the “greatest meeting of land and sea” by poet, Robinson Jeffers. And, while several thousand people call it home, interestingly, there is no actual city or town of Big Sur. What better way to properly celebrate this wonderful mish-mash of quintessentially Californian attributes, than to have a food and wine festival in its honor!

The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival runs Thursday, November 1st through the 4th and features a bevy of out of the box food and wine centric events, just like the region itself. Friday’s offerings feature the beginning of the Hiking with Stemware series with allows participants to take in the beauty of Big Sur on foot along with the beautiful taste of some of the area’s best wines. The events feature meals al fresco from local chef’s and are often paired with an inside look at artisan producers from around the state.

Evenings embrace the wild mystery of the area with events like the Wine & Swine and a series of Winemaker’s Dinners. These limited seating events feature small batch wineries paired with the creations of local chefs. The nighttime activities conclude with the After Parties at the Henry Miller Library. This venue has played host to a Who’s Who of American creative genius from Jack Kerouac to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and this weekend features music, wine, food and fun.

There is a wonderful mix of events throughout the weekend so you can choose to try a taste or go whole hog. The event organizers have graciously provided shuttle transportation for some of the events so be sure to check the Big Sur Food & Wine website for more details. As food and wine festivals go, this one may give you a little more than you bargained for; and that’s a good thing!