Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur
Mr. Harper's Travel Guide
Set on the Monterey Peninsula where the Del Monte Forest meets the Pacific Ocean, Pebble Beach is an idyllic haven. It is a place of sweeping beaches and aquamarine waters, of sea lions, sea otters, pods of migrating whales, and low-flying pelicans scanning the water ...
Set on the Monterey Peninsula where the Del Monte Forest meets the Pacific Ocean, Pebble Beach is an idyllic haven. It is a place of sweeping beaches and aquamarine waters, of sea lions, sea otters, pods of migrating whales, and low-flying pelicans scanning the water for anchovies and squid. The cool Pacific air keeps temperatures so delightfully moderate that golfers can wear slacks and sweater vests all year long.
Nearby, Carmel-by-the-Sea provides a wonderful escape for much of the year. The pedestrian-friendly central shopping and dining district along Ocean Avenue comprises no more than 10 square blocks; the coastal hamlet atmosphere remains enchanting; and the beach is sublime.
The breathtaking stretch of California coastline south of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea that leads down to Big Sur is home to a towering, redwood-covered mountain range that drops dramatically to the Pacific along a gorgeous stretch of Highway 1, one of the world's most deservedly celebrated scenic highways.
Big Sur's population is sparse, and the area still retains the rugged qualities that long ago lent it artisan/bohemian allure, attracting literary iconoclasts such as Henry Miller, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. In the mid-20th century, Miller may have found in Big Sur an antithesis to the "air-conditioned nightmare" of modern life; today, though, modern comforts are readily available. A host of state parks in the area offers ample opportunity for exploring on foot, by bike or by horseback. The Esalen Institute, founded in the 1960s as an alternative-education mecca, continues to cultivate well-being with its hot springs, massage offerings, meditation workshops and myriad other avenues for self-exploration.
Recommended Luxury Hotels in Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur
Best Restaurants in Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur
This cheery local institution, once owned by Carmel’s most famous resident/mayor, actor/director Clint Eastwood, features plenty of hearty gastropub fare, an extensive beer selection and sun-splashed patio dining. Note the homage to its former proprietor in the barroom.
This casually chic café, whose artful bric-a-brac interior seems modeled after a Keith McNally restaurant, is an excellent all-purpose option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Specialties include brioche French toast, fresh fisherman’s stew and thin-crust pizzas from a wood-fired Mugnaini oven.
Focusing on authentic bistro cuisine, this charming establishment also features one of the best wine stores in the village. Classics such as lobster bisque, duck confit and veal tenderloin are served with sunny California attitudes. A chef’s table is available.
After an extensive renovation a few years ago, this inviting 30-year-old restaurant continues to gather plaudits as one of the finest on the Monterey Peninsula. Dapper proprietor Tony Salameh offers contemporary favorites such as beef brochette, prawns and angel hair, barramundi salad, and Hawaiian tuna tartare. Children’s menu available.
Part of a well-regarded West Coast-based restaurant group, this airy trattoria offers antipasti, wood-fired pizza, house-made pastas and rotisserie roasted meats. There is also a children’s menu for a casual early dinner with the family.
The most popular brunch spot in Carmel offers relaxed patio dining and a warm, family-friendly atmosphere. The house specialties are the omelets, the waffles and the eggs Benedict, of which there are a staggering 20 varieties.