Weekend Getaway: Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Day One: The Hotel & Dinner
After a beautiful drive up Hwy 1, we settled into our room for the weekend. For this getaway, we chose the Portola Hotel & Spa (a very short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf). I think it’s important to note, the hotel had some pretty major construction happening on their Southside, connected to the Monterey Conference Center… but once we navigated the minor entrance detour, we didn’t see or hear one bit of the work going on.
As soon as we entered the lobby of the Portola we knew immediately that this was a good choice. It’s was that perfect mesh of classy and well-maintained, yet comfortable. The staff was very pleasant and didn’t even mind when I politely turned down their freshly baked welcome cookie (being GF sucks). The small line at check-in moved very quickly, and we were on our way.
Day Two: The Plaza & Fisherman’s Wharf
Day 2 kicked-off with a little noshing of fruit off the room service menu and better-than-average coffee from the room’s machine. Then out the door we went. We were pleasantly surprised by a fun little arts & craft fair happening in the open space right outside the hotel. Custom made jewelry, home-made knit caps, soaps and more adorned the brick-laid plaza. Tucked off in the corner was a small trio playing stripped down versions of classic tunes (listen in the video), and a series of bocce ball courts for public enjoyment. With a bottle of wine, and some great company, one could spend the entire day mere steps from our room! But… we had more exploring to do!
We ended the day with a quick trolley ride back to the Portola… and a stop into Jack’s Lounge in the hotel lobby. We were looking for a quiet place to grab a couple of cocktails, a light snack and kick out feet up after a full day of walking… and this place was perfection. She had a glass of red wine, I ordered what turned out to be a very well crafted Old Fashion and we shared some hummus & veggies. I’m not sure if we sat there for 10 minutes or 1 hour… but it was perfect. After a few(ish) drinks we decided to head upstairs for the evening. We opened up the large sliding glass door and listened to a wedding DJ spin an interesting mix of tunes from a courtyard just out of site. The music, the cool ocean air and room service (okay, and some more wine) was everything we needed to finish the day.
Day Three: Carmel by the Sea
For our 3rd day we decided to break out of the Bay for an excursion across the peninsula to Carmel by the Sea. Of course, we couldn’t play tourist in Carmel without cruising the famous 17 Mile Drive. Lush green-scapes and Cypress trees that look more like works of art than natural growth, line nearly every stretch… except for those spots with stunning panoramic ocean views and world famous golf courses (it was all so horrible). It may just possibly be the most beautiful stretch of road, and incredibly expensive real estate, you’ll ever see across 17 miles. There is a small fee to enter ($10 per car) but SO worth it.
- Kurtz Culinary boasting an impressive tapenade & mustard section, this was also a fun way to snack on tons of different flavors.
- Carmel Belle for more light snacks and an Iced Tea (it was freakin hot today) we popped into this cafe style eatery to grab something icy.
- Galerie Rue Toulouse (a.k.a. geek-a-palooza) they had a very cool comic book art exhibit on display (if only I had an extra $10k laying around).
We rounded off our afternoon of trekking a comfy little tasting room by local winery De Tierra Vineyards. We each got a flight served by family members of the winery. Had a fantastic conversation with them about their sustainability & where the grapes are grown. Super knowledgable and worth a stop. With good wine comes a killer appetite… so we took off in search of dinner!
Day 4: Heading Back Home
With a strange mix of complete relaxation and homesickness (darn those mini-me’s) we lazily packed up our bags and rolled to the lobby in search of breakfast. After a few failed attempts using Apple Maps to find a spot, we stumbled across Caffe Trieste… and it was great. We ordered a couple of coffees to prep for the drive home and a light breakfast. She got a veggie sando (cream cheese, avocado & more with home fries) and I chowed down on a wonderful scramble. It was exactly what we needed to kick us in the pants… and get us moving down the road.