Ever wonder where great novels come from? Think community. Monterey and its surrounding environs, especially Big Sur, are well known as a highly literary, audacious community of productive writers. Not just novelists reside here, but poets and columnists too. The Monterey Peninsula’s history is well populated with writers as well. Ever wonder where Robert Lewis Stevenson got his idea for Treasure Island? It was the time he spent sitting and writing at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove. Of course, there is John Steinbeck (“Cannery Row”), probably the most well-known writer this area has produced. Visit the John Steinbeck Center in Salinas to learn about his history and have dinner at the house he was born in, now a museum and restaurant. Touring through Carmel and its wealth of restaurants, there are many writers’ hangouts to be found, such as the Hogs Breath Inn, a classic example of a place where writers used to congregate. Next time you plan a getaway, make a little time to pursue the environs of writers and don’t forget to book a room at our hotel early, the weather is warming up and walking tours are a must, or take a driving tour of Hunter Thompson’s (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) Big Sur.
The Steinbeck House: http://www.steinbeckhouse.com/
National Steinbeck Center: http://www.steinbeck.org/
More about Historic Monterey: http://www.historicmonterey.org/literature.html
March brings thoughts of pots of gold, green beer and how lucky the Irish might be. After doing a little research, I discovered that the phrase “Luck of the Irish” is actually a misnomer. Throughout their history, the Irish have had spectacularly bad luck, in terms of famine, wars and misunderstandings between Catholics and Protestants. Some trace the origin of the phrase to the US where, during the exploration for gold in the West, there were a high number of Irish people who got lucky, and found their “pot o’ gold” in the gold fields of California, or were equally prosperous in silver mining.
Luck of the Irish does owe its origin to the U.S.A. When they arrived, they were very disliked, treated badly, despised and hated. When the Irish had any kind of success, most Americans at the time didn’t believe that the Irish were capable of such successes, so they called it luck. Hence the term “Luck of the Irish.” Once a year, we can consider ourselves lucky too, lucky to not get pinched, lucky to have green beer and lucky that there are a multitude of Irish and British bars in Monterey in Monterey where we can celebrate this day with the Irish.
Favorite Local Pubs include, Crown and Anchor (ps love the British version of Chicken Curry!), Britannia Arms, London Bridge Pub (Decent Fish and Chips too).
Spooky happenings flourish for adults and children alike on Halloween on the Monterey Peninsula. Like Sleepy Hollow on the East Coast, the seaside town of Monterey has been around for over 240 years and it is said that the old adobes and Victorian-era houses are haunted with many old spirits, maybe a pirate or two. On Halloween, to get in the mood before going to my usual party, I like to get out and take the Ghost Trolley of Old Monterey, a trolley tour around some of the creepiest houses, adobes, cemeteries and the first church in California, all on the Monterey Peninsula that will make you shiver with delight. I like to do it every year because the tour changes from time to time and for the special tour held on Halloween Night they pull out all the stops. I always bring a friend to share the fun and coming in costume is encouraged. It’s a great way to start the Halloween night right before attending that blowout costume party on Alvarado Street in Downtown Old Monterey.
I’ve had people ask me from time to time “what is the attraction of living on the Monterey Peninsula.” People think that it’s a small, exclusive, expensive area with three petite towns and a gated community (Pebble Beach) that provide limited year-round opportunities for shopping and entertainment. I counter that image by pointing out that I live where there are pristine beaches within easy walking or driving distance from any door. Beautiful scenery abounds wherever I go. Arrays of fresh vegetables are to be had direct from the Salinas Valley by shopping locally at a collection of farmers markets. To satisfy my needs for entertainment there are live performances year around by headliners at the Sunset Center in Carmel, several jazz clubs, two dance venues, and many cinemas. Most people don’t know that the Monterey Peninsula supports its own symphony that can be heard at various events throughout the year. On the Monterey Peninsula, I don’t think we are missing any of the variety and diversity of a major city. What we don’t have is congestion, bad air and gridlock traffic (except in the summertime). I don’t think any of those features of city life are missed by those lucky enough to be residents of the Peninsula. What we do have is one of the best and widest choices of shops found anywhere, from designer and artisan goods to the big-box stores in Sand City. There really isn’t any shortage of things to do on the Peninsula, just going for a walk around town can be a lesson in history or an experience in great food. No, I don’t think large cities have anything over our slower-paced lives and gorgeous surroundings, and I can’t, after nineteen years, imagine living anywhere else.
Contributed by Writer by the Sea
Looking to do something other then just sight seeing in Monterey? Go antique shopping. Counting from 1770 when Monterey was named by the Spanish, the Monterey Peninsula has a rich history spanning over 240 years. Not including the buildings, that’s a lot of antiques in one place. Sure, many of the antique furniture found in Monterey were shipped in to the Peninsula, but they were unused when they arrived at their new home and reflect the tastes and culture of the periods they lived in. Many of the finds in the Peninsula antique shops, especially the art and jewelry, were created right here on the Peninsula.
Anyone interested in the history or culture of Old Monterey can browse a multitude of antique shops in Cannery Row, historic Pacific Grove and scenic Moss Landing. As usual, these shops are located amongst scenic locales where plenty of atmosphere, activities and restaurants are found. Make a day of it, antique at the Holman Building in Pacific Grove, the Antique Mall on Wave St. near Cannery Row, Jan de Luz in Carmel, or Hamlin Antiques in Moss Landing. As always, a relaxing restaurant will be nearby for you to reflect on your purchases over lunch. In the evening explore the tastes and nightlife of Old Monterey. Our Guest Service agents can offer suggestions.
Monterey Wine Country is “home” to approximately 85 vintners and growers. Monterey County’s lifestyle and wines are defined by the cooling influence of the ocean and especially of Monterey Bay and its deep marine canyon, whose immensity and depth have earned it the nickname, “The Blue Grand Canyon.” The canyon’s vast weather effect on the viticultural districts (appellations) of Monterey is manifested through fog, wind, lack of rain through the growing season, and moderate temperatures.
There are two wine-growing regions to visit; one inland in the Salinas Valley, the other is along the Carmel Valley Road closer to the ocean. Many of the Monterey County wineries have tasting rooms open to the public. http://www.stayatmonterey.com/monterey-california-wineries.aspx. These tasting rooms provide a relaxed atmosphere where guests receive knowledgeable, personal attention while tasting wines and learning about the winery. Several wineries also offer tours of their facilities where one can learn about the winemaking process. For those interested in an afternoon road-trip, take a tour of the Carmel Valley and its many wineries and tasting rooms.
A special favorite is Chateau Julien, where there is a tasting room nestled in acres of working grape vines. Wine tours available at www.toursmonterey.com
The one great feature of our Monterey Peninsula is accessibility to our seashore. Even on Cannery Row, where the shoreline is densely populated, there is plenty of access to bayside rocks and water. It is no coincidence that the Recreation Trail follows along the shoreline, that’s where the spectacular views are.
Monterey Peninsula shoreline is great for tide pool watching and scuba diving, there are also places where broad, sandy beaches run for miles, perfect for sunbathing and sand castle building. These sandy beaches are made for picnicking and swimming. The Lover’s Point Cove in Pacific Grove has both a hamburger stand and barbeques for that perfect afternoon enjoying the Cove’s sandy beach, while the Del Monte Beach in Monterey is surrounded by several eateries where a substantial box lunch may be purchased. Del Monte Beach also sports kayak rentals, perfect for the adventurous. Travelers interested in capturing their special moments with a camera will be dazzled by ocean sunsets at Asilomar State Beach on the ocean end of the Peninsula in Pacific Grove.
No matter where you choose to go along the Monterey Peninsula shoreline, there are plenty of ways to discover fun and memorable moments. Ask one of our Guest Service Agents for more information and directions to our superb seashore.
Did you wonder why there is an overwhelming interest on the Bay in Monterey? Well, it’s because our spectacular coastline is highly accessible.
People who have been to Monterey seem to naturally gravitate to the Recreation Trail, a walking and cycling path that takes one from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way to Asilomar State Beach, where the bay meets the Pacific Ocean. If you walk, or prefer to rent a bike, you can start on the Recreation Trail by visiting the many shops and restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf, then stroll or bike for a few blocks along the trail to Cannery Row and more shops and outdoor restaurants.
After Cannery Row, it is about a mile along the untamed coastline to get to Lovers Point Cove and take in the view of the entire bay. A small hamburger stand at the Cove makes for a picnic lunch by the sand. Photo-ops abound along the trail plus many tide pools. From the Wharf to the Cove, sea otters frolic and sometimes whales can be seen, but if going to the Cove is far enough for one day, the free Monterey Trolley stops every 45-minutes at the Cove for the trip back to Cannery Row. At Cannery Row you can take the Trolley and travel back to Old Downtown Monterey. If you don’t want to walk the trail, there are several places along the Recreation Trail that rent bicycles or pedal-surreys for up to four people. Also, there are many places to stop and eat a picnic lunch purchased from one of the fine vendors along the trail. Enjoy our coastline, it’s one of the best features of the Monterey Peninsula and it’s free!