Monterey - Hike Point Lobos - Bike Monterey - Overnight in Monterey


Coasting in Monterey

Just a few short hours south of San Francisco, Monterey offers a beguiling combo of small-town charms and big adventures. Here’s our guide to one of the Golden State’s sweetest slices of coast.

Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey

Exclamation Point

With one of the most stunning and powerful meetings of land and sea on the continent, Point Lobos State Reserve might well be Monterey’s crown jewel. The state park is home to harbor seals and sea otters, but the real magic is discovering the tranquil coves of turquoise water along the raw and rocky coast. To get the full experience, pack a picnic and hike the perimeter network of trails that encircles Point Lobos, from Sea Lion Point to Sand Hill Trail, then to South Shore Trail and Bird Island Trail. Be sure to check out China Cove, easily one of the most beautiful spots on the Pacific Coast. For a closer look, take the wooden stairs to the beach; you may even encounter a choir of sea otters (they aren’t shy around here). Sea otter or not, we’re sure you’ll hear the call of the wild.

Point Lobos State Reserve is approximately four miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.

TIP: After viewing Monterey’s wildlife, it’s time to make some of your own. Head into Carmel for drinks at the Forge in the Forest. The saloon used to be a blacksmith shop but now features a mahogany bar and a lively weekend scene. Pet owners can let their dogs out at the Forge's Dog Pound, a special part of the patio for canines with its own menu. Humans should sample the French onion soup or the Francis Whitaker Blacksmith salad.

The Forge in the Forest, 5th Ave. and Junipero Ave., Carmel; 831-624-2233.

Bike the Monterey Recreation Trail

Bikers' Bounties

Sometimes the best views are from a bicycle seat. Jump on your two-wheeler and take advantage of the Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail’s eighteen miles of car-free coastal beauty. This converted railroad track passes a montage of classic Monterey attractions— from sailboat-filled marinas and iconic spots like Steinbeck’s Cannery Row to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Along the way you’ll see eucalyptus forests, sand dunes, seabirds, fishing crafts, and kayakers. And if the mood strikes you right, Lover’s Point provides a poetic overlook you should be sure not to overlook.

The Monterey Recreation Trail starts at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove, or 18 miles north at the junction of Del Monte Blvd. and Lapis Rd. just north of the city of Marina.

BONUS: Mountain bikers looking to get their single-track fix should head east thirteen miles to Fort Ord. There, fifty miles of single-track bliss and fire-road options await (see recommended loop below). You’ll get a solid ride anywhere you go, exploring a mix of rolling grassland, dense chaparral, and wooded oaks; in fact, it's the same terrain as the mountain bike races at the legendary Sea Otter Classic cycling festival, the “Woodstock” of bicycle events. This year’s classic takes place from April 12 through 15.

To reach Fort Ord, head east on Highway 68, a few miles past Laguna Seca, turn left on Reservation Rd. Turn left again on Portola Rd., then right on Creekside Terr. Park at the designated lot. Hop on Trail 31 and take this until Trail 02, which goes left and will drop you off on Oil Well Rd. Follow Oil Well Rd. a few miles uphill (enjoying the views) until you hit Skyline Rd.; go right on Skyline. Look for single-track Trail 44 after half a mile on the right. Take Trail 44 to Trail 41all single-track. This takes you all the way back to Oil Well Rd. Turn left on Oil Well Rd. and look for Trail 02, which takes you back to your car.

For either the Recreation Trail or Fort Ord, you can rent your two-wheeler at Bay Bikes.

Asilomar Boardwalk in Pacific Grove

Historic Hideaway

Want to overnight right in the privacy of a seaside state park? Try the historic and woodsy Asilomar in Pacific Grove. This state-run ocean-front hideaway has hardwood floors and cozy rooms—with no phones or TVs to distract you. Spend an extra ten bucks and get your own fireplace. The tranquility and solitude are sweet enough, but here’s an added bonus: some of Monterey County’s best surfing lies just steps beyond your backyard. But make sure you return in time to fill up on breakfast—we’re not talking stale donuts and muddy coffee: you’ll get a full spread of fresh food here (all included with your stay). Other nearby activities are kayaking (thanks to a partnership with Monterey Bay Kayaks) and hiking the boardwalk along the Asilomar coast. For lunch or dinner, grab a bite at an old standby, the Fishwife. Their famous Fisherman’s Bowls and pints of draft are a great end to a turf and surf day.

Asilomar, 800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove; 888-733-9005. Weekend rooms start at $121 for two guests.
Fishwife at Asilomar Beach, Sunset Dr. at Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove; 831-375-7107.

Other Activities You Might Enjoy