Monterey, California is postcard gorgeous. Even in the rain. Whoever said it never rains in this part of the state was wrong; the famous California sun was mostly AWOL during my weekend trip to Monterey. There were no signs of drought during those 4 wonderful days but to be honest, a little damp weather didn’t stop me from enjoying all of the sights and activities in this great little coastal town in Central California.
Here are my recommendations for a fun and active weekend girls’ trip to Monterey.
Where to Stay in Monterey
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa
The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa looks cozy, small and intimate but with 550 guestrooms and 30 suites, it is the largest hotel in Monterey. The hotel, tucked away on 22 acres of Monterey pines, is not smack dab in downtown Monterey but close enough to all of the big attractions and far enough away from the traffic to ensure a serene and relaxing stay. If you are a fan of golfing, biking, tennis or jazz, this is the place for you. The resort is nestled right on the Del Monte golf course, tennis courts are plentiful and the tennis pro shop also rents out well-equipped bikes for guests.
Weekends at the resort means live jazz in the Fireplace lounge, hanging out at the firepit, or enjoying a soothing massage after an active day in town or at the resort.
One of the best features of the hotel is the Fireplace Lounge, an open, light filled space with a giant double-sided fireplace. It is the gathering place of the hotel, and the hotel knows it. They make things easy for guests to enjoy this space by making it possible to order food and drinks from the restaurants to be delivered to the lounge. I have to confess, I did waste much time just enjoying this wonderful space.
With two on-site heated pools, great restaurants (the pulled pork sandwich in the Knuckles Sports Bar is a must, I ordered it twice in one weekend!) and large spa, you almost don’t want to leave the hotel but you must at some point tear yourself away because Monterey and its surrounding attractions await and it is so damn pretty.
What to Do on Your Girls Trip to Monterey
Biking in Monterey
Biking is one of the best ways to really see this sweet spot on the central coast. Really, just do it! I rented a bike from Hyatt (awesome service Hyatt!!!) and spent a most of one day exploring the many jaw-dropping sites in this part of California. The hotel is a short bike ride away from the Monterey Coastal Recreational Trail, a 29 mile long path along the rugged coast of California.
This is a totally easy beginnner bike ride, honest. All you need to do is point your wheel down Sloat Road, it has a nice wide bike lane and 5 minutes later, you are on the Recreational Trail. The trail is flat, and takes you on a journey of loveliness; there is nothing between you and the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula. You can stop at any point without the worry of finding parking or fighting traffic. I took full advantage of the trail and stopped often, spending time on Fisherman’s Wharf, downtown Monterey, gazing at the sea otters and sometimes just sitting on a bench watching the waves roll in.
You can extend your bike trip further into 17 Mile Drive, a popular route that winds its way around Pebble Beach, and I highly recommend it. Bikes don’t have pay at the gate for entrance into this area and the scenic views are mind-blowing beautiful. This spot captures the essence of what California is, rugged, natural coastlines, surging surf and beautiful beaches.
Spa Time at the Hyatt Regency
What a perfect name for a spa in California, the Marilyn Monroe Spa! A stunning space modeled after Marilyn’s California home, this sexy spa lives up to the name of Hollywood’s most famous starlet. The spa makes it easy for you to get your glamour on with a make-up bar, blow-out service and a Glamour Room for a fab facial or mani/pedi. I thoroughly enjoyed my 80 minute Marilyn Massage after a long day of biking around town.
Eating In and Around Monterey
When it comes to dining in Monterey there are three things to keep in mind, farm to table produce, fresh seafood and fine wine, with a combination like this how can you go wrong? Most of the spots I picked for dining during my visit were casual since I was biking but I did ask a couple of local women where they love to eat in and around the Monterey Peninsula. Here is a compilation of our recommendations.
Hyatt’s TusCA Restaurant
I had all of my breakfasts at TusCA, how could I resist? Farm to table goodies, an extensive buffet, delicious pastries and pots of hot coffee, what a great way to start the day. Dinners at TusCA are also a treat, try the grilled Angus filet with grain mustard fingerling potatoes, pancetta, and braised escarole. The steak, cooked to a perfect medium rare was topped with a healthy dollop of date butter, it was a perfect combination of sweet and savory. I loved it and wanted to lick my plate clean.
How can you not like a place that greets you with a free glass of the sparkly? Add in gorgeous grounds complete with a French-inspired chateau, a casual, fun atmosphere, great wine and Folktale Wintery is a place you’ll want to hang out in for a more than a quick wine tasting. Every once in a while they schedule a Girls’ Night Out Event complete with trunk shows, hors d’oureves, makeovers, music and wine tastings of course.
Big Sur Bakery
Big Sur Bakery is adorably cute in a rustic cabin kind of style. Forget a sit down meal here, the food is awesome but a wee bit on the ‘too expensive!’ side and the service is iffy, instead indulge in the pastries, my o my! Best stollen ever, huge almond croissant crunchy deliciousness, candied bacon bow tie pastry, and the list goes on. Hint, get there early in the morning if you want any taste of pastry heaven, these things sell out fast!
Start your day in Monterey with the bottomless mimosas and fresh French beignets at Roux in Carmel, it is worth every single delicious calorie. This new spot on the coast has already received lots of buzz and it is easy to see why. Chef Roux has taken traditional French cuisine added California goodness to create dishes to die for.
Valley Greens Gallery
Craft beers, cider and urban art, this combination blends together beautifully in Valley Greens Gallery in Carmel, making the gallery a warm and welcoming spot to sip and enjoy art and conversation. Try the ginger beer, so very good.
Schooner Coastal Kitchen and Bar, Monterey Plaza Hotel
A restaurant with a view, Schooner Coastal Kitchen was recommended to me by my wonderful breakfast server at the Hyatt. She told me this one of her favorite spots to hang out with her girlfriends in Monterey. You get an up close and personal spot to check out the antics of Monterey’s famous sea otters during your meal and the gorgeous ocean views guarantee your camera will not stay in your bag.
A must-try is the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl – yum!
Tillie Gort’s Cafe
Located a short bike ride from Coastal Trail in Pacific Grove, this cute little café is perfect casual lunch spot and has been a local hangout since 1969. The hummus pita sandwich stuffed with tomatoes and avocado was so very good. Tillie Gort’s is the go-to spot for vegan, vegetarian, and non-veggies, it has something for everyone, fresh, organic and delish.