Went on our annual off season Monterey trip a week ago....or rather, we returned a week ago. I'll spare everyone the "old man vacation photos" but I wanted to share with anyone contemplating going there for vacation.
We go every year and thus have struck friendships with some of the locals. From those friendships we've gained some "insider" knowledge of where the locals go for what and that has made our trips much more enjoyable.
Our routine is to normally go to one of our favorite sandwich shops and grab one to go, then head down to one of the rocky beaches in Pacific Grove to sit on a bench and eat our lunch.
Pretty much we do this each day, unless we're off doing something. This particular trip, we did a few things we didn't even know were on our "bucket list" of things to do while there. Mostly because the Great White Shark watching tour was not available.
We went to a place called Point Lobos one day and hiked a number of miles there. I gotta say, if you are in California on vacation, and in the Monterey/Carmel area it is possibly the most beautiful stretch of unspoiled coast in the state. It's been a state park since the 1930s so has escaped developers.
We sat down to take a break after our first hike down to Gibson Beach and China Cove and while we sat we watched a whale surface and later breach off in the distance. Perfect way to end a hike.
The previous day, we'd rented bicycles and pedaled from Pacific Grove to Seaside along the extensive bicycle trails around the area. Next year, if we go again in late season, we're going to bring our own bicycles and pedal the 17 mile drive loop.
The day after Point Lobos, we took the wine trolley to Carmel Valley. Now, we'd spent a bit of time in Carmel Valley back before we got married so we aren't strangers to the place. Not in the least. However, we never did the winery tour there before. I mean, we only live like 15 minutes from Napa so....
This time we decided we'd give it a try. The Wine Trolley Tour was perfect for us, as it picks up around lunch time right by Fisherman's Wharf and drops off at the same spot in the afternoon.
We did a little research the night before so we could hit up the wineries that made the wines we are particularly fond of and bought our tickets online for the Trolley Tour.
The first stop is the Trolley Stop and the trolley driver's own property. He is a partner in the Chock Rock winery so we sampled some those wines first. That and the lunch is included in the price of the tour. Also, he and his wife have some infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars for sale. Color me a big fan.
The Chock Rock wines were actually the best of the tour over all. We went to 3 other wineries and honestly, only one; Cheseboro actually matched up to our research. One other actually surprised us, and that was Joyce Winery. The one we thought would be the best, Cima Collina; turned out to be somewhat disappointing.
Cima Collina was out of the one wine we really wanted to buy. The whole reason we went there to begin with. The folks there were really pleasant and apologized for being out of the wine. They were undergoing a change in ownership too so that was likely part of the problem.
To top it all off, the Talbott Moto Museum is right across the street from These winery's so I was kind of distracted by that fact and that I wasn't there due to the constraints of the wine tour.
All in all, it was a fun way to spend the day and do something we'd never done before. The wine trolley guy was entertaining and the wines at Cheseboro lived up to their press. The wine at Joyce surprised us as did the atmosphere and knowledge of the both the sommeliers.
As I stated earlier in this post, if you're planning a trip to California and Monterey is included, this is an entertaining afternoon and pretty fun too.
If you just want to do something in Monterey that is essentially free, pack a lunch and go down to the beach in Pacific Grove. Find an empty bench and sit down for a picnic there. I'd recommend bringing a beach blanket or towel to spread out on the bench though.......sean