Labor Day Weekend: Monterey Bay

My husband Matt and I’s birthdays are two days apart, so we’ve got into the habit of exchanging gifts with each other on the same day. This year when it came time to exchange, Matt encouraged me to go first.

I opened up a bag full of colouring books geared towards adults (yay!) complete with a set of pencil crayons (colored pencils for my American readers). I actually talked about wanting this, because I find colouring is a great way to zone out and unwind from the pressures of the real life. He then handed me an envelope and said, “This is really your present.”

I peeled open the flap and inside was a one pager describing a weekend getaway in Monterey Bay complete with an in-suite couples massage. Awesome, right? I couldn’t help chuckling as I handed Matt his gift, an RCAF zip-up and an envelope containing the exact same thing except instead of a massage, I opted for a 1.5 hour flight with an instructor. Matt’s a huge aviation enthusiast and I’m a massage enthusiast, so it kind of makes sense where we deviated. Too funny.

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We took the long drive on Saturday morning down to Monterey along the famous Highway 1. It was a beautiful drive, but you really don’t get many coastal views until you’re really south past Santa Cruz. It might have made more sense to take a more direct route on the 101 and save the scenic driving once you’re as south as Monterey. Since we went on a long weekend, we hit significant traffic making our drive close to 4 hours from the city.

When we got there though, we weren’t disappointed. We had an ocean view room at the Best Western plus beach resort. This is about a 10 minute drive from downtown Monterey and is seemingly the only hotel that you can walk right out onto the beach. The recently renovated hotel restaurant also overlooked the beach, and we were lucky enough to see dolphins swimming while we ate breakfast one morning. The hotel also had a bar and BBQ right on the beach during the day and a bunch of activities targeted at families, like movie nights on the beach each night. Our dinner reservation conflicted with a showing of Jurassic Park, which was terribly unfortunate ;)

We checked out the renowned aquarium which was really neat despite all the stroller dodging we had to do. It seems Monterey is a hot spot for families on the long weekend, and I can understand why.

The downtown had a similar vibe to Pier 39 in San Francisco, but it wasn’t quite as manufactured. We found a candy store on the main drag which seemingly had every salt water taffy flavour ever made. We proceeded to buy every flavour ever made ;)

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The most memorable meal would have to be dinner at 1833 Restaurant. Set in an old house, with modern and cozy furniture, this was the perfect atmosphere for a romantic, but unpretentious meal. The bacon cheddar biscuits with maple butter were to die for, and the craft cocktails washed that and dinner down nicely. After dinner, there’s the option of sitting near fire pits and sipping cocktails on the front patio. The dessert menu is primarily made up of Absinthe! I can’t wait to come back here again.

When we lived in Toronto, Matt worked on getting his recreational pilot’s license. He had quite a few hours under his belt flying a Cesna. I knew nothing would make him happier than getting to fly again, so I was thrilled to find an experience which allowed him to do just that. The instructor who accompanied us let Matt take the reigns, and we head to Point Lobos to fly over a pod of whales feeding. Incredible.

On the last day of our trip we headed even further south to 17-Mile-Drive. We paid the nominal fee to get on the road (around $10) which would take us through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. We saw some big, fancy houses, big old trees, and breathtaking coastal views. When you enter the road, you’re given a map and there are stop points along the way so you can take it all in.

Would I visit Monterey again? Totally. I would avoid a long weekend though and I would plan to spend some time in Carmel which from the car looked lovely to walk about in.

Until next time.

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