Monday, November 3, 2014

Hidden Monterey: Exploring Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach

When staying in the Monterey area it is impossible to ignore the coastline heading South through Pacific Grove (where the Monarch Butterflies return each winter!) to 17 mile Drive on down to Carmel-by-the-Sea. I'm going to share with you some really gorgeous places you can visit, for free, and a couple of great hidden food options!
 On your way out of Monterey you can take the 1 but that's SO not the pretty way to go. Instead take Lighthouse down to David and make a right. Go to Oceanview Blvd and go left. Follow this around and it will eventually become Sunset Drive. Rocky shore views and opportunities to get out and play on the beach are your reward for going this direction! 
 Follow Sunset all the way around until it hits 17 Mile Drive. Hang a right and follow that all the way down to Pebble Beach. There is a fee to enter "the Drive" but it's totally worth it! We decided to make Pebble Beach wait so we took Sunset all the way up to the 1 and headed down towards Carmel Valley instead.
Here is the first of the hidden food wonders! At  r.g.burgers in the Crossroads Shopping Center right off of the 1 you will find this great burger joint! I got the "black and blue" burger because I have a weakness for blue cheese on beef, but there are SO many different types of gourmet burgers you are bound to find something to make everyone happy...even the vegetarians! The burger was just so incredible I can't praise it enough but the fries were SO good too! Now, that's saying a lot since I'm not really a "fries" person. I'll eat a few and then just pass on the rest. But these were so good! Your lunch will run you about $10 and it's totally worth every single cent! (no, I get no kickbacks or anything from these places.)
Do yourself a favor while you are in the area...head up into the hills. Beautiful oaks and pines cover the golden California hills to make scenic wonders that are just stunning!
 The golden hills are offset by so much greenery, even in deep summer, that you will never regret taking this detour.
 And the Spanish Moss on the trees is just outstanding! It, literally, took my breath away. The more you get out into the hills the more wildlife you will see too. We saw quail, turkey, and deer on this trip.
I was greatly blessed by being invited to tour Tehama Golf Club. This "members only" club is one of the most beautiful I have seen. The reason I'm spotlighting it is that you can get married there! Yup! You can have these views as your own and it would be a day to remember!

 The courtyard is a stunningly beautiful area just as you enter the club. A cocktail hour here would be amazing.
 But it's the views from the deck that will take your breath away. Imagine this as your backdrop for your wedding photos. In fact, there was a wedding couple there that day taking their photos. There is also a gorgeous room with floor to ceiling windows in case you would rather have your event indoors.
 And the course. If you ever get the chance, this would be an amazing course to play! I don't play golf and I was amazed!

 We headed down into Carmel-by-the-Sea, known to everyone around here as just "Carmel", because my friend wanted to show me La Playa Carmel. Hotel touring is something I have always found a lot of fun to do. It's free, hotels don't really seem to mind, though there will be areas that are off limits to you, and they will happily answer any questions you may have about the hotel or staying there.
 After walking around the lovely gardens of this hotel I know that we will definitely be splurging on a weekend for our Anniversary at some point. It's just gorgeous!
 Inside the lobby are these beautiful tiled stairs. This is where the information desk is and the person to ask all of your questions is just a few feet away. They were very cheerful and helpful too!
 There was tea and lemon water set out for the guests so if you wanted to just relax in this sitting room after a walk downtown, which is just a few blocks away, or take a bike, which are are available at the hotel, to the beach then you can.
 Breakfast on the patio? Why not when it's this pretty! 
 Especially when the view from the patio is this one! Overlooking the gardens and pool, the shady patio is a wonderful place to spend a bit of time. 
From La Playa we headed over to Quail Lodge on our way back down to Pebble Beach. This secluded hotel would be an amazing place for a honeymoon!

The rooms are set up like little bungalows and set apart by tree covered and flower lined winding pathways. The best part? They have benches along the way so if you just want to stop and enjoy the scenery you can do so in comfort! Or make your way to the clubhouse patio where you and your guests can while away the afternoon at the waters edge.
 Not into all this relaxation? Well, Quail Lodge has it's own course too! Seriously, if you are into golf then this would be an incredible place to stay. Gorgeous, private, and a golf course too?

 But THE place for golf, when you mention Monterey, is Pebble Beach. My guys are huge golf buffs and they watch this place on T.V. with such lust you'd think it was a Victoria's Secret model. This is a Bucket List place for most golfers, each wanting to put a big check next to the words "Played Pebble Beach". 
 And when you take a look at it for the first time...WOW. I'm not even a golfer and suddenly I wanted to play! I truly takes your breath away! 
 There are several courses that are considered "playing Pebble Beach". This one that runs in front of the Lodge, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass and Cypress Point. All have these incredible views and are a golfers dream. There is a very huge financial catch to playing these courses, of course. One of the reasons this item stays unchecked on many of those lists. BUT you can GO to Pebble Beach and to the Lodge and see it for FREE! Ok, not the same as playing it but it's so gorgeous that you won't regret going!
 The Lodge has many lovely details such as the steps up to the common room. Even as someone who doesn't golf I had to stop and consider how many famous feet have left the green on the 18th hole behind me and walked up these very steps!

 In case that doesn't dawn on you then a walk through the main hallway where the trophy's and photos are displayed will remind you quickly that this is a place where wonderful things happen.
 You can head into the bar at Stillwater Bar & Grill to grab a pre-dinner drink.
 Or try out the wine bar at The Bench.
 But for my money I'd rather have dinner overlooking that 18th Hole and the coastline from the patio at The Bench. Sure, it's a $17 burger but what a view! What an amazing VIEW!
After you finish your meal head over to the shops. If you are like us then you can't afford a single item IN the shops but it sure is fun to look and sure is beautiful to take in that view as well.
 Yes, that's a the middle of the shops. I don't know why but that just tickled my funny bone! This shot just makes me happy! Maybe because, for just a few minutes I got to feel what it's like to be a 1%'er.
  Take "the Drive" back around to Pacific Grove and find one of the many benches perched along the coastline.
Then wait for the sunset. Even when it's not "spectacular" it is peaceful and the perfect way to end any day along the Monterey Bay.

Next time we head to downtown Monterey and Fisherman's Wharf! Hope you can join us then!


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