We didn’t really experience much of a winter this year--there were weeks that felt more like spring in San Diego than winter in Monterey. And because the snowpack in the Sierra was below average, many Bay Area residents forsook the mountains chose to visit us instead. If you needed proof, just drive down and see the lines of cars parked along Highway 1 outside of Point Lobos on any given weekend day.
Now that the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has folded up its tent for another year, we have a short period when tourism typically slows down a tad. And that means we can get out and enjoy our precious little slice of heaven without fighting the crowds that will be arriving in the coming months. And what better way to see the sights around here than from behind the wheel of your favorite car? Here are some suggested road trips.
The route starting from Highway 1 and Carmel Valley is sublime. The valley enjoys some of the best weather in the area, and there are plenty of places to stop and explore on the way to the Village, including the shopping center around Baja Cantina, Bernardus Lodge, and Garland Regional Park. In the VIllage itself, there’s plenty to do, ranging from tasting the wines of local makers such as Cowgirl, Joyce, and Albatross Ridge, perusing the numerous art galleries like the Carmel Valley Art Association’s or dining in one of several world-class restaurants.
If you feel like going further, head east out of the Village. You’ll pass through some places in the Carmel Valley that are little changed in 100 years before arriving at Arroyo Seco and Greenfield. Spring is an especially nice time to take this route because the temperatures are mild. In summer, it can get brutally hot.
17 Mile Drive
Oh sure. We all kind of shun this because it’s kind of “touristy,” but if you haven’t tooled around the coast of Pebble Beach in a while, it’s worth your time to try it again. There’s a reason people from all over the world have Pebble Beach on their bucket lists. Bird Rock, the Lone Cypress, the Lodge, Spanish Bay, Stillwater Cove and Fanshell Beach are all world-famous destinations and they’re right here at our doorstep.
Add to the trip by circumnavigating Pacific Grove via Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Drive before heading into Pebble. The views of Monterey Bay and the open Pacific Ocean are stunning, and the chances of whale sightings are great.
Here’s the granddaddy of Monterey Peninsula road trips. Again, this is on the bucket list of millions and it can get very crowded in summer, especially at the most famous spots like Bixby Creek Bridge and Nepenthe. Those of us in the know, however, are aware of many places that visitors, for the most part, don’t know about, like Garrapata State Park, Big Sur Roadhouse, and Fernwood. Another fun side trip is to take the Old Coast Road from Bixby. That drive takes you through several different ecosystems such as coastal river and beach, chaparral, redwood forest and high meadows. It rejoins Highway 1 just north of Andrew Molera State Park--just a short hop to the River Inn and a relaxing time by the river sipping a cool libation.