We decided to go the Central Coast on a whim. Nishan had never been down Highway 1 and what kind of Californian was I for letting that pass for so long? A weekend isn’t long enough for a leisurely drive all the way to San Diego, but Monterey was only three hours away so we packed our bags and headed down.
Our first stop was Santa Cruz for a quick but disappointing lunch near the boardwalk. Hello, tourist trap. No matter, though, and we continued south until we arrived at the entrance of the famed 17-mile drive. Okay, I know I just disparaged tourist traps but this one is worth it. I hadn’t been since I was a teenager and these views were stunning, especially near dusk. Of course we stopped at the Lone Cypress in all its, uh, cypressy glory.
Near the end of our drive, we stopped at The Lodge at Pebble Beach for cocktails by the fire and some golf watching. Golf doesn’t exactly move me, but the ambiance here made it my favorite part of the drive.
After checking in to our hotel, we ended our evening with a stroll down Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck’s classic novels but unfortunately, infamous today for souvenir stands at every other step. We returned the next morning to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was built on top of Cannery Row’s old sardine factory. This may be one of the world’s older major aquariums, but it’s still among the most impressive.
All that fish viewing made us hungry for some, well, fish, so we stopped at Ocean Sushi Deli on our way out of Monterey for a quick lunch. Boasting a huge menu and a super casual vibe, this cute deli-slash-sushi-restaurant satisfied my craving. It’s away from the crowds and worth getting away for.
We had just one more stop before heading back to the Bay Area: Carmel. If Monterey is Disneyland, then Carmel is Beverly Hills. We parked our car downtown and strolled down the pretty cobblestone streets, popping into art galleries and boutiques along the way. Carmel’s downtown is a short walk from the (dog-friendly) beach.
It was time to head back to the Bay Area, and we headed out of Carmel we passed fruit stand after fruit stand, eager to beat the traffic rush home. We may have only seen a tiny piece of California’s coast, but hey, I’d done my duty as a Californian.