Monterey California

Monterey is a 2+ hour drive from San Francisco. We periodically travel to Monterey and nearby Pacific Grove to take in the beautiful scenery, and of course, to visit some wineries in Carmel Valley. Oh yes, and to eat at nice restaurants (not that San Francisco’s restaurants aren’t great!)

Our summer 2019 trip was no exception. We took our normal walks around Monterey’s Bayfront park to Cannery Row and then down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf is a great spot to stroll down and to taste samples of chowder which most restaurants offer as a way to get you in to eat.  And we always enjoy a stop at Sly McFly’s to listen to some music.

Monterey Area Restaurants and Hotel

1833, one of our favorite Monterey restaurants, unfortunately, is now closed. But we still found some great places to eat.

  • Vivoli’s Chowder House (Pacific Grove) is a basic (although recommended and popular) seafood restaurant where we had fried calamari and sautéed sand dabs. Both dishes were fine, although not about to hit our Top Ten list. The wine list is very limited.
  • The Sur House (at Ventana Resort) is always a sure bet for good food. We split one wonderful dish for lunch: Alaskan halibut with golden raisin ravigote and fragola.
  • Passionfish (Pacific Grove) is a regular eating stop for us. We had two dishes: fried oysters with an interesting kimchi salad and Alaskan halibut. Both were quite nice, although without the nuance of the halibut dish we had at The Sur. We had a pleasant 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Caracchiolli Cellars pinot with the meal.
  • Stillwater Bar and Grill is in Pebble Beach along the 17-mile drive. If you eat at a restaurant, you can get a refund of the fee to enter the beautiful 17-Mile Drive. We had a pleasant meal starting with sweet corn buttermilk soup with Dungeness crab and a lobster salad sandwich with avocado, lettuce, and tomato. While it wasn’t as good as the last time we were there, it was still good.
  • the Sardine Factory. This was our first visit to this restaurant in many, many years. We had two relatively straightforward, but well-executed dishes: swordfish with sun-dried tomato tapenade with sautéed spinach and Chesapeake crab cake with tarragon crème fraiche. We also took advantage of the restaurant’s extensive wine list, where we scored a wonderful 2016 Lucienne Doctor’s Vineyard pinot.

While we normally stay in Monterey, we decided to get a change of scenery and stay in nearby Pacific Grove. We choose the Green Gables Inn which is right on the oceanfront. Our first night was in the coach house in a large king room with a jacuzzi which we didn’t use. Then we moved to the main house. This is a very nice inn with comfortable rooms. Not all have private baths but ours did. They have wine and appetizers at night, cookies, buffet breakfast with hot food and fruit. The only negative was when Joyce smashed her knee on the heavy cast iron leg of the breakfast table which prevented her from walking the entire day and has had long-term effects on knee pain. Ouch. Not their fault but ouch.

Green Gables PAcific Grove

Things to Do in the Monterey area

  • Big Sur, while Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was our ostensible destination, we went primarily for the drive along the Big Sur coast. Beautiful panoramic views, with several hundred-foot cliffs plunging into whitewater surf along a rocky coastline and beautifully-colored inland hills and arroyos. Wow!

Big Sur

  • Carmel Valley for its wine tasting rooms; (see below)
  • Carmel for its “all too” cute homes, its gallery-packed commercial streets and wine tasting rooms;


  • 17-Mile Drive for its incredible span of rocky coastline, windswept Monterey cypress trees, lovely golf courses, and mansions. And don’t forget to grab a bite in one of their restaurants to get back your fee for going into the area.

Long Cypress17 mile drive

Monterey Area Wineries

We, as always, stopped at a number of wine tasting rooms. Although we sampled a range of wines, we focused primarily on local—especially Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH)—pinot noirs. Among our favorites were:

For more information on this area, visit some of our older blogs on Monterey here.

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