Posts Tagged ‘Monterey Peninsula’

57th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
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America is a country founded on the ideals of inclusion and acceptance. Our forefathers were immigrants and since we first formed our country in 1789, the United States has seen a steady stream of new and wonderful citizens making a home on our shores. As a nation, we have reaped the benefits of a diverse population and today enjoy the cultural offerings of a wide variety of peoples.

But, is there a cultural offering recognized the world over as truly American? You have to look no farther than the musical expressionism of Jazz to answer that question. Born in the South during the late 1800’s and evolving out of the call and response singing of African field workers, Jazz has formed the basis of modern popular music from rock and rap to R&B and Reggae.

One of the greatest things about Jazz is that it not only defines culture, but mirrors it as well. As an art form based upon improvisation, it is constantly redefining itself and nowhere is this more apparent that the 2014 edition of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

To experience the genesis of this cultural phenomenon and its offshoots, check out the festival, at September 19-21, 2014 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds & Event Center. Now in its 57th year and widely regarded as the one of the local region’s best festivals, the Monterey Jazz Festival boasts a history and lineup of artists that cannot easily be found anywhere else. Three days of music, food, education and fun are headlined by the incomparable Herbie Hancock on Friday the 19th. The Festival’s modern genesis continues with Saturday headliner, The Roots, the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and one of the best bands in the land, brining a modern twist to the super-soul of Philly and traditional groups of New Orleans.

The Festival is about more than good music and a good time. Proceeds from the event benefit local music education programs and the NextGen Jazz Festival which showcases some of the best Middle School, High School and College bands, combos and choirs in the country. The winners of the Next Gen are invited back to the Festival and have the honor of playing with their heroes to a packed audience.

So don’t miss your chance to see some of the world’s best Jazz musicians celebrate this true piece of American culture at the Monterey Jazz Festival. And a One and a Two…

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!

Wine Down at Jacks with Monterey County Wine

Monday, February 24th, 2014
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Home to many of California’s finest vineyards and known for its extensive array of wine tasting venues, the Monterey Peninsula is a premium destination for all things wine.  Recently named as one of Wine Enthusiast’s “Top 10 Best Regions for Wine”, visitors can find everything from vineyards and wine tours to tasting rooms and wine dinners. If you’re looking for the perfect place to relax with your favorite glass of vino or you’re interested in developing a more complex palate, there’s no better place for you than the Central Coast.  With multiple microclimates and varied soil types there are a number of award winning appellations within the Monterey County alone.

 

Featuring several wine tasting venues right outside its doors, the Portola Hotel & Spa is well equipped to fulfill all of your wine-related needs and is the perfect base for exploring all the region has to offer. In fact, you need to look no further than Portola’s own renowned Jacks Restaurant & Lounge to get your wine fix.  Jacks Lounge is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of work or sight-seeing. Wine Down at Jacks Lounge from 4-6pm, daily and receive 50% off all wines by the glass and 50% off their signature cheese plate.  Better than a “traditional happy hour”, Wine Down at Jacks Lounge provides the ideal atmosphere to relax and renew in style while experiencing the best of Monterey County’s wines.

 

If a sit down dinner is more your speed, visit Jacks for their Wine Dinner series. Every quarter, Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef Jason Giles, pairs selections from Jacks menu with vintages from local wineries for an exclusive five course dinner. Each course is designed with the utmost care to perfectly complement the corresponding wine. To truly enhance the experience, each course is described and selected tableside by the wine team representatives.  At only $75 per person, Jacks Wine Diners are a wonderful value! To learn more about these fabulous dinners and events visit www.jacksrestaurantlounge.com

Venue Ideas for Your Perfect Monterey Bay Wedding

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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Memory Garden behind the Portola Hotel & Spa

World famous for its natural beauty, iconic history and incredible events, the Monterey Peninsula has amazed visitors for decades. More recently, however, wedding fever has caught on in this area and not just by the residents. As destination weddings have become as much of an option as more traditional ceremonies, couples are continually looking for something different. Places such as Hawaii and Las Vegas will always be popular, as will other tropical locations, but where else can two lovebirds and their families find such a wide variety of locations for their perfect day?

Whether big or small, simple or ornate, the Monterey Peninsula offers a venue for every type of wedding. If you are looking for a natural setting many of the local, regional and state parks offer locations that are beautiful and practical at the same time. Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove is continually voted as best wedding venue by local publications. It offers a grassy park overlooking the Monterey Bay and who can beat a place with Lovers in the name. But, if a true beach wedding is your desire, the Carmel State Beach or Asilomar State Beach are great choices that are serviced my many of the local event companies.

Meadow and forested themes are also gaining in popularity. Facebook founder Sean Parker went all out in Big Sur and there are several great locations at Pfeiffer State Park, as well as the Santa Lucia Chapel owned by All Saints Church. The outdoor chapel which is nestled in a grove of redwoods overlooks the Big Sur River offers a truly rustic experience. Breathtaking views are the hallmark of the Wedding Rock in Carmel, which sits high upon a bluff overlooking Monastery Beach. Simple yet unique, this site is managed by the California State Parks system.

One of the most popular wedding themes over the past decade is the Rustic or Shabby Chic event. While these weddings can be held at a traditional hotel or event space, their reliance on the thematic location has allowed many local historical landmarks to become something more, housing many couple’s special day. Chautauqua Hall in Pacific Grove, built in the late 1800’s, was once a place for religious events and artistic gatherings. Now, it sports a modern kitchen and a flowered garden outside.

If, however, you seek the best of everything, look no further than the Memory Garden located next to the Historic Custom House Plaza in Monterey (just steps from the Portola Hotel & Spa). The adobe walled garden offers a fountain amid Southern Magnolia trees and a lush flower garden.  This California State Park venue, is attached to the garden is the Historic Custom House which offers 19th century Spanish Maritime architecture and authentic Monterey Bay charm. Continue the celebration converting the ceremony space into your reception or change it up a bit and head on over the Portola (just steps from the garden), dance the night away in one of their ballrooms or outdoor courtyard and let their amazing event staff take care of all the details.

From the beauty of the Monterey Bay and the history of Old California to the serenity of the coastal California Redwood forests, the Monterey Peninsula offers so much for regular visitors, but it offers the ultimate in destination wedding experiences.