Steinbeck’s Favorite Seaside Town, Monterey, California

This is the first in multi-part series.

This series chronicles our 2017 Road Trip from Sonoma County, California to San Diego, California covering over 1,200 miles and 12 days of beautiful sights, sounds, wine, food and spirits – all in the name of adventure.


John Steinbeck bust on Cannery Row, Monterey (L.Compisi)

September is a fabulous time to travel the California Coast. The weather is typically agreeable with cool nights, foggy mornings and glorious sun-soaked days. We experienced exactly that weather wise and so much more.


Kayaking is a great way to see Sea otters up close (L.Compisi)

With major portions of the Pacific Coast Highway (U.S. Highway 1) closed because of the major mudslides and closed bridges from the 2016-2017 rains, U.S. Highway 101 was our predominant driving route.  No worries here, however, as US 101 is beautiful in its own right combining the beauty and bounty of miles and miles of farms producing vegetables, vineyards producing wines and a significant piece of coastal views along the Venture Highway and elsewhere.

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Amazing sea birds inhabit the bay area (L.Compisi)

Our first stop was the fabulous coastal city of Monterey (about 115 miles south of San Francisco) situated on the world famous Monterey Bay. The bay is teeming with kelp forests which create great habitat for the fascinating and playful sea otters, harbor seals and the accompanying avian life like seagulls, pelicans, loons, albatross and cormorants. Of course, Monterey is also a great spot to begin a whale watching adventure during the two migration seasons (April to mid-December for Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Dolphins and Winter and early spring (mid-December to March) for Gray Whales and Dolphins.

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Seagulls abound at Lover’s Point Pacific Grove (L.Compisi)

ATTRACTIONS: The tourist highlights include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf and the neighboring towns of Pacific Grove and Carmel. Pebble Beach and the 17 Mile Drive offer dramatic views of the Pacific and some amazingly spectacular multi-million dollar homes. The nearby wineries of the Carmel Valley have fast become a real draw for wine loving travelers as well. There are several beautiful beaches (Ocean Beach in Carmel and the Beach at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove are very popular) and the water is actually the warmest in late August and September, but never real warm!

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Monterey Bay Aquarium on the bay side (L.Compisi)

WHERE TO STAY: We have stayed in several different delightful hotels around Monterey over the years but our favorite, whenever we want to treat ourselves, is the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa  on Cannery Row. Expect serious dollars for a room and parking but the hotel, situated right on the bay with ocean view rooms practically surrounding the kelp forests and sea otter play grounds, is gorgeous and full service including a roof top spa with open air, ocean view hot tubs. The hotel offers special package and off season rates which we have taken advantage of during previous stays. Really amazing and a great place to host business conferences and other special events like weddings and anniversaries!

Monterey Plaza, King Ocean View, View from roof, Blue Spa (L.Compisi)

WHERE TO DINE: There are so many exquisite and creative restaurants and chef’s in the area.  Previous trips we have enjoyed Passionfish for creative cuisine and Domenico’s on the Wharf for traditional Italian with Cioppino and other favorites (located on a very touristy wharf ). Although we haven’t dined at the Aquarium we have enjoyed the special flavors created by Executive Chef Matthew Beaudin and can certainly recommend him. On this trip our stay was brief, only one night so we took full advantage of the hotel’s restaurant, Schooner’s Coastal Kitchen. We were not disappointed.  The food was very good and the service matched the beautiful food.  The restaurant is situated with maximum bay views and the outside bar is delightful for appetizers and happy hour drinks.  It was worth staying ‘home’!


Beautiful sunset over Monterey Bay (L.Compisi)

Stay tuned for the second in the series: Hearst Castle and the seaside town of Cambria.



About John Compisi

John and Linda Compisi are a freelance travel, adventure and lifestyle writer/Photography team focusing on California, Italy, France or where ever life takes them. John is a credentialed member of the SF Bay Area Travel Writers and the Redwood Writers Club. John and Linda, reside in Sonoma County and love nothing more than getting out there and experiencing the world, no matter if it’s a destination close to home, a road trip, or a journey to a romantic international destinations.
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