Still think of Monterey as Steinbeck's sleepy little seaside village?
Then you’re missing out. From craft beer to biking to buzz-worthy dining, you’ll find plenty of non-touristy reasons to revisit this coastal playground. Dare we say, there's enough here for your own great American novel.
The Portola Hotel & Spa faces downtown Monterey on one side and Fisherman’s Wharf on the other, perfectly positioning you for recreation, historic adobes, top restaurants, and area attractions. It’s also home to Peter B’s, the Monterey Peninsula’s hottest brewpub. In celebration of the season, head brewer Kevin Clark has crafted a rich pumpkin ale and a Marzen lager.
Two Portola Plaza, Monterey (831-649-4511)
Wake up to the sound of splashing waves at the Monterey Bay Inn. Tucked at the end of Cannery Row, it’s an ideal home base for kayaking, biking and wine tasting (Pierce Ranch has a tasting room just two blocks away). Plus, the rooftop hot tub, in-room spa services, and gorgeous bay views make it a favorite for couples.
242 Cannery Row, Monterey (831-373-6242)
The Monterey Movie Tour puts a star-studded spin on traditional sightseeing adventures, and it’s a can’t-miss for film fans. While winding through Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, and Carmel, you’ll watch clips from some of the 200 movies made locally — including silver screen appearances by the likes of Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, and Tom Hanks.
Departs from downtown Monterey (800-979-3370)
Explore by bike on the 18-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. Most people pedal between Fisherman’s Wharf and Lover’s Point Park in Pacific Grove. From there you can continue along the coast into Pebble Beach. For a fresh perspective, stock up on picnic supplies at the new Wharf Marketplace and follow the path toward Seaside, Marina, or beyond.
Wharf Marketplace, 290 Figueroa St., Monterey (831-649-1116)
Monterey’s biggest restaurant headliner might make you hallucinate. Dip too deeply into Restaurant 1833's dizzying selection of absinthe and you could be transported to Steinbeck's day. But we doubt he witnessed a restored adobe like this with cozy couches, lively bar seating, and an experienced staff plating seasonally inspired, locally-sourced entrees.
500 Hartnell St., Monterey (831-642-1833)
Locals line up for breakfast at LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle, a low-key waterfront joint that also serves up steamy calamari, sizzling burgers, and classic American comfort food for lunch and dinner. Seating is limited, but it’s worth the wait — and those lucky enough to score an outdoor table enjoy views of the bay.
Municipal Wharf 2, Monterey (831-372-0568)