For the last four years I have truly been in awh at the fact that I lived in Monterey. I found myself constantly taken back by all that surrounded me. I don’t think I could have picked a better place to attend college. Back in August, I made a big choice to move back to my home town in La Quinta, California. I’ve been living at home for about three months and while I find the Coachella Valley beautiful in its own, I do miss the beach views and gorgeous sunsets very much. Monterey will always hold a special place in my heart and the people and places I encountered in my four short years living there, will be memories that stick with me forever. Here are just a few of the reasons I miss Monterey Bay.
1. Ford Ord Dunes State Park
The Dunes was probably the first place I fell in love with when I moved to Monterey. The beach was only about a mile from my dorm room Freshman year. Through the old abandoned military base, and right past a creepy little graffitied tunnel, you arrive at a gorgeous mountain with a path to walk up. Once at the top, you’re exposed to a view of the ocean. Ford Ord Dunes State Park is my favorite place to sit and watch the sunset at. It is also the best place in Monterey to collect sea glass and sand dollars.
Directions: Beach Range Rd, Marina, CA 93933
2. Fishermen’s Wharf
Fishermen’s Wharf is your typical touristy destination in Monterey; filled with visitors shopping around and eating at the restaurants. The cool thing about the Wharf is that almost every restaurant has clam chowder sampling. I always found it fun to walk down the wharf and try every one of them with my family. I love watching all the seals sit on the rocks down by the water and of course I’ve tried the fresh salt water taffy, the way too sweet cookie dough fudge, and the half pounder Reeses Peanut Butter cups from the Candy Factory way too many times. Fishermen’s Wharf is actually featured in one my favorite series on HBO, “Big Little Lies” staring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. For those of you who have seen it, “Blue Blue’s Cafe/Bar” where the girls meet and gossip, is actually a restaurant on the Wharf called, “Palace Trattoria”.
Directions: Fishermens Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940
3. Cannery Row
Cannery Row is another touristy must. There are tons of gifts shops to shop around at and my personal favorites are Ghirardelli’s (always have to stop by and get my free chocolate sample) and Cannery Row Brewing Company (which I’ll talk more about later).
Directions: Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
4. Lover’s Point
Lover’s Point is a beautiful scenic park/beach. Another great place to watch the sunset at.
Directions: Lover’s Point, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
5. Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the top aquariums in the world and while it is a must see in Monterey, it is pretty expensive. I was lucky enough to be given free tickets every year for being a student at CSUMB and I loved going every year. My personal favorites are the otters and the jellyfish. Fun fact, the aquarium in Finding Dory is actually based completely off of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Directions: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
6. 17 Mile Drive
Another must do on your Monterey bucket list is the 17 mile drive. I’ve done it a few times with my family in our car, however, one of the coolest trips I’ve been on was when I biked it my sophomore year. I started in Monterey and biked through Fisherman’s wharf, Cannery Row, Lover’s Point, all the way through the 17 mile drive, and ended up at Pebble Beach. It was absolutely incredible.
Directions: 17-Mile Drive, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
7. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos State Reserve is found along Highway 1 as you’re driving through Carmel. The park costs money to get inside, but we always parked along the road and walked in for free. Point Lobos has a ton of beautiful ocean views and wild life but watch out for ticks!!!
Directions: 62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea 93923
8. Garrapata Hike
My sophomore year I convinced a group of my friends to do the Garrapata hike with me. The hike is sometimes called “on top of the world” or “above the clouds” because Monterey is often foggy and the view from the top is above that layer of fog and you can see the entire bay; its absolutely incredible. The hike is about 7 miles total. You start walking through a forest on an easy scenic stroll and then the forest comes to an end and you’re exposed to a giant green mountain. The rest of the hike consists of climbing straight up it until you reach the top. The view is so worth the trek, I promise.
Directions: CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Ca 93923
9. Garrapate Beach
Garrapata Beach is located on the other side of the street across from the hike. I love the views of the green mountains next to the rocky oceans. It is a great place for a picnic on a sunny day.
Directions: CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
10. Carmel Valley River
I’ve only been to the Carmel Valley River once so I never really took any photos nor do I remember where exactly it was located. I was shown the secret little river about a month before I moved home. It is definitely a hidden gem in Monterey and I wish I could have spent many more afternoons there.
11. Ribera Beach
Ribera beach is another secret location not many people know about. I was introduced to the cute hidden beach because my softball team always took our team pictures there every year. You park in a very high end, fancy, neighborhood in Carmel, and look for this secret path of stairs that lead you right down to a beautiful beach where not many people are at. Ribera beach is another great place for a picnic on a sunny day.
Directions: Cuesta Way Carmel, CA 93923
12. Bixby Creek Bridge
Bixby Bridge is a must stop if you are ever driving through Big Sur. The bridge is a Monterey icon; when I think of Big Sur and Highway 1, I think of driving over that bridge. I mentioned the HBO show Big Little Lies earlier when I spoke about Fisherman’s wharf. Bixby Bridge is also featured in Big Little Lies. The intro to the show features the family driving over the bridge into town.
Directions: CA-1, Monterey, CA 93940
13. Mcway Falls
Mcway Falls is another Big Sur/ Highway 1 icon. The beautiful view of the falls is unlike any other. It is definitely a must see in Big Sur. You park on the side of the highway and there is a short stroll down to the view of the waterfall. The actual park that Mcway Falls is located at is called Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which has a few other hikes worth checking out as well.
14. Big Sur River Gorge
Speaking of other hikes worth checking out, the Big Sur River Gorge is a hike in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park that takes you to a swimming hole. Go on a sunny day in the Fall and bring your bathing suit and jump in if you’re brave enough!
15. Borchard Farms
Borchard Farms became a Fall tradition for me and my roommates. It’s a pumpkin patch, with a corn maze, out in Salinas. We used to go every year and pick our pumpkins for carving.
Directions: 142 Rodgers Rd, Salinas, CA 93907
16. Casa Verde Beach
Casa Verde Beach is the beach everyone goes to on a nice sunny day. I believe the beach is actually called Del Monte Beach but we always called it Casa Verde because you park on Casa Verde Way and walk down to the beach. There have been so many fun memories at Casa Verde that I can’t write them all but some of my favorite memories there are the bon fires we’d have in the summer and playing spike ball with my teammates on sunny days after practice. For my 21st birthday, my family actually rented a house on Casa Verde Way and stayed there for the weekend. Its a great beach and definitely a Monterey must.
Directions: Casa Verde Way, Monterey 93940
Carmel-By-The-Sea is a small beach town just past Monterey. It’s always fun to walk down the street and look at the local shops and art galleries. My personal favorite in Carmel is Lush. My roommates and I used to love going into Carmel to get ourselves fresh facemasks from Lush.
Directions: Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
18. From Scratch
From Scratch is one of my FAVORITE breakfast spots in Monterey. They are featured in “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” therefore, they clearly know how to make great food. If you’re ever in Carmel, I would highly recommend stopping by and having yourself a plate of their Biscuits N’ Gravy. They are to die for. My other favorites would have to be their tasty Bloody Mary’s and their giant latte’s and hot coco’s topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. SO GOOD.
Phone Number: (831) 625-2448
Hours: 8:00 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
19. Coffee Mia
Honestly, I’m not really a huge fan of the food on the menu (but that’s because I am a very picky eater). I love Coffee Mia because of the staff and the drip coffee. It’s a little family business and the owner is so friendly and welcoming; he’ll make your morning, I promise. If it’s not busy, I can usually convince Horace (the owner) to let me order my own little plate of eggs over medium, two pieces toast (with the to die for jelly on the side), potatoes, and crispy crispy bacon.
Phone Number: (831) 384-0148
Hours: Mon-Sat 5:00 A.M – 3:00 P.M. Sun 6:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
20. Papa Chevo’s
I think I would go visit Monterey solely for a Papa Chevos burrito. There is nothing I love more than a Papa Chevos bacon breakfast burrito with green sauce. It is by far my favorite food from Monterey. There are two Papa Chevos locations; one in Marina and one in Seaside. I prefer the one in Marina personally, but both are pretty dang good. Papa Chevos in Marina is just a tiny little Mexican food shack with a drive thru. 9 times out of 10 times I go there I get a bacon breakfast burrito, but every once in a while I like to switch it up and get a veggie burrito and chips with cheese and guac. Highly recommend the chips and guac!
Phone Number: (831) 884-9545
Sunday: 6:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M.
Monday-Thursday: 6:00 A.M.-12:00 A.M.
Friday-Saturday: 6:00 A.M-2:00 P.M.
21. Noodle Bar
Loveeee me some Noodle Bar. It is cheap and delicious, which makes for a perfect college student combo. I usually get the vegetable chow fun (which I prefer over their chow mein) and veggie spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce. I am also a big fan of their boba drinks. My favorites would have to be the cantaloupe and the mocha. Noodle bar also has two locations, but I always went to the one in Marina.
Website: No website found
Address: 215 Reservation Rd, Marina, CA 93933
Phone Number: (831) 384-6225
Hours: 11:00 A.M – 8:00 P.M. (Closed Tuesdays)
22. Cannery Row Brewery Company
Cannery Row Brewing Company is another restaurant where my picky eating makes it hard to find something I like at a restaurant. There isn’t a whole lot of options on the menu for people who don’t eat meat (or in my case only like bacon and pepperoni). I love CRBC for the appetizers and beer. They have this massive pretzel and it is so delicious.
Phone Number: (831) 643-2722
Monday-Thursday: 11:00 A.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Friday/Saturday: 11:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M.
Fieldwork is fairly new to Monterey. It located by downtown Monterey, so finding parking can be tough. Here’s a secret: Park in the Trader Joe’s parking lot and Fieldwork is right by it. Enjoy a cold beer on a beautiful day; there is nothing better.
During my last year in Monterey, I discovered Sovino. Well actually, I didn’t discover it, but my friend started working there. It’s a cute little wine bar in Monterey. I loved going there to drink wine and visit my friend while she was working. The wine bar has all sorts of fun events. I got to be apart of a guac tasting contest where there was about 7 different types of homemade guacomole made by people in the community and you ranked them best to worst. I also got to do a paint and sip where we got to paint a Monterey Bay beach scene. One of my favorite aspects about the wine bar are the pictures painted on the wall. There are paintings of places in Monterey all done by the mother of the owner of Sovino.
Phone Number: (831) 641-9463
Monday-Thursday: 3:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
Friday: 3:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. – 11:00 P.M.
Saturday: 12:00 P.M. – 11:00 P.M.
Sunday: 12:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
25. The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club is another great breakfast spot. My favorite food item there is the banana French toast. SO GOOD.
Phone Number: (831) 394-3238
Hours: 6:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. Everyday
26. Red’s Donuts
All I have to say about Red’s Donuts is that if you attend college in Monterey and are up late studying for finals in the library with your friends, you will at some point take a trip to Red’s at 4 in the morning to get donuts. 4 in the morning is when the fresh new donuts of the day come out, and they are so delicious.
Phone Number: (831) 394-3444
Monday-Friday: 4:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Saturday: 4:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
Sunday: 4:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
27. First Awakenings
This breakfast spot in Pacific Grove is ALWAYS packed, but when you do get a table, it is pretty dang good. I’m a big fan of their potatoes!
28. Caffe Trieste
Caffe Trieste was one of the first little coffee shops I discovered in Monterey. I was once told that their espresso and their pastries are the closest thing to Italian espresso and pastries that you can find in the the U.S. I’ve never been to Italy, so I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I will say that their espresso is amazing to start your day off with. I also used to love getting their cinnamon and vanilla oatmeal topped with bananas.
29. Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery
Phil’s Fish Market isn’t really a great place for a girl who doesn’t like fish but for everyone that does, it is apparently ridiculously good. My dad insisted on going to Phil’s every single time he visited. I put it on the list of reasons I miss Monterey because while I don’t love it, I always loved going with my family and enjoying the atmosphere there.
Address: 7600 Sandholdt Rd. Moss Landing, CA 95039
Phone Number: (831) 633-8611
The Fish Market is open 7 Days a week from 8:30am to 9:00pm
The Eatery is open 7 Days a week from 10:00am to 9:00pm
The Fish Market is open Sun-Wed from 8:30am to 7:00pm
and Thu-Sat from 8:30am to 8:00pm
The Eatery is open Sun-Wed from 10am to 8:00pm
and Thur-Sat from 10am to 9pm
30. Compagno’s Market & Deli
What makes Compagno’s one of my favorite places to eat at is the owner Bennett. If Bennett likes you (which he loves CSUMB athletes) you’re likely to get yourself a giant slice of cake. The cake there is unreal and the sandwiches are pretty amazing as well.
Address: 2000 Prescott Avenue (At Taylor) Monterey, CA 93940
Phone Number: (831) 375-5987
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Rosines has good breakfast and good dinner. It is a great place to enjoy a giant plate of pasta at and they also have some pretty delicious cakes and desserts as well.
Address: 434 Alvarado Street, Monterey, CA 93940
Phone Number: (831) 375-1400
Sunday-Thursday: 8:00 A.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Friday/Saturday: 8:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M.
32. Peter B’s Brewpub
Peter B’s Brewpub is a great place to grab drinks with friends or family. My personal favorite is the free popcorn you can grab while you’re waiting to be seated. They have great burgers (veggie burgers in my case) and yummy garlic fries. I also recommend the fried pickles or the nachos!
Address: 2 Portola Plz Monterey, CA 93940
Phone Number: (831) 649-2699
Sunday: 9:30am to 11:00pm
Monday – Thursday: 4:00pm to 11:00pm
Friday: 4:00pm to 12:00am
Saturday: 11:00am to 12:00am
33. Ike’s Love & Sandwiches
While Ike’s isn’t only located in Monterey, it was new to me when I moved to Monterey. Their dutch crunch bread is what makes Ike’s so good to me. That and the free Caramel apple lollipop you get with your sandwich.
34. Mundos Sandwich & Burger House
Mundos is another one of my favorite sandwich spots. Huge sandwiches for a good price. My favorite is the BLT.
35. Pizza My Heart
There’s a couple different Pizza My Heart locations throughout California but Monterey was my first encounter with this fabulous pizza joint. Giant slices of delicious pizza. Need I say more?
Address: Del Monte Center, 660 Del Monte Center, Monterey, CA 93940
Phone Number: (831) 656-9400
Hours: 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. Everyday
36. Wagon Wheel
I’ve only been to Wagon Wheel once, and I was introduced to the cute little diner by my old boss, who grew up out in Carmel Valley. Wagon Wheel is a cute local breakfast spot and the food there is great.
Address: 7156 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
Phone Number: (831) 624-8878
Hours: 6:30 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. Everyday
37. A-Plus Ice Cream
A-Plus Ice Cream is probably the strangest little business I’ve been to. Its a water cooler store, a mail room, and an ice cream shop all in one. I must say though, they have amazing ice cream.
Address: 215 Reservation Rd. #0, Marina, CA 93933
Phone Number: (831) 883-3915
38. Folktale Winery
I got to go to Folktale for wine tasting a few times after I turned 21. It is so much fun and the wine is so good. It is a little pricey, but I knew one of the workers there so we always got great deals on wine tasting.
Address: 8940 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
Phone Number: (831) 293-7500
Monday-Thursday: 12:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Friday/Saturday/Sunday: 12:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
39. Hotel 1110
Hotel 1110 is a great place to grab a drink. It’s a rooftop bar at a hotel with a nice view of the beach.
40. CSUMB Softball Field
And last but certainly not least, the CSUMB Softball Field. Wow I sure do miss playing the game I love with the people I love more than anything.
4 Bonus Places That I Never Want To Go To Again
1. Natividad Medical Center
Can’t say I ever wish to return to the Natividad Trauma Center in an ambulance with a concussion from hitting my teammates medal knee brace with my head diving for a fly ball…
2. Frog Pond
Tried to go hike Garrapata but the trail was closed so we headed to a trail in Monterey that we had never tried before. The hike ended up being a 1/4 mile loop to “Frog Pond” which was just a dried out lake. Good times…
3. Garland Ranch
Never trust yelp to take you on a hike…more like never trust Katie Ramos to take you on a hike. Tried to take a lovely 2.1 mile hike to a waterfall and lake in Carmel and ended up walking on a road for 9.0 miles until we ended up at a private property where a lovely lady Named Nikki offered to drive us all the way back down. Apparently Garland Park is a place to hike and Garland Ranch is private property. Now we know…
4. Marina State Beach to watch the Sunrise
One night my roommates and I were up late studying in the library and I some how convinced them to stay up until 4 to get Red’s Donuts and go watch the sunrise. Turns out the sunrise at the beach isn’t a thing considering the sun rises in the East and sets in the West…oops.