Weekend Trip: Things to do in Monterey Bay
Whether you have an entire week available or just 48 hours, Monterey Bay is a wonderful destination for relaxation with delicious eats and views of the Pacific. This trip was very unconventional for me, as I booked our accommodations the day of via Hotwire. While the $260 price point seemed like a lot, this was definitely the lowest I could find in the area at the “80% recommended” rating. I also compared the pricing with hotels and Airbnb’s in Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, and Sonoma and this was the cheapest rate I found by a long shot. In under 48 hours, we split our time between Monterey, Santa Cruz, and stops in between. Here are my weekend itinerary and recommendations of things to do in Monterey Bay!
Accommodations and Location in Monterey Bay
- Accommodations: Comfort Inn in Marina, CA (just outside of Monterey) at $260/night
- Location: Monterey, CA is roughly 2.5 hours south of San Francisco and approximately 5.5 hours north of Los Angeles
- Monterey is Known for: its famous aquarium, cannery row, Fisherman’s Wharf, delicious seafood, and beaches
- Santa Cruz is Known for: being home to UC Santa Cruz, bustling boardwalk, and laid-back vibe
- Weather: Similar to San Francisco, the weather can be very unpredictable here. Despite it being summer, definitely pack jeans and a sweater.
Day 1: Monterey and Pacific Grove
- Asilomar State Beach (Pacific Grove): This picturesque beach is home to a beautiful jagged coastline yet flat trail perfect for a romantic stroll or dog walk.
- Lover’s Point Park (Pacific Grove): We unexpectedly stumbled upon Pacific Grove’s Feast of Lanterns the day we ventured out here so it was absolutely packed. The highlight of this rocky destination for me was seeing the two most adorable otters having dinner right below Lover’s Point.
- Hotel 1110 for dinner (Monterey): I cannot recommend this plant-filled rooftop restaurant enough. It is quite the task finding an affordable Monterey dinner spot with a modern and stylish atmosphere, but I have Yelp to thank for this feat. The roof is tastefully decorated and equipped with fire pits for windy nights. I highly suggest the eggplant parmesan ($12) and deconstructed tiramisu ($6). Check in on Yelp for free wine with your entree!
- English Ales Brewery (Marina): What a unique tavern! Service was phenomenal and I was most intrigued by the steins lining their ceiling. Apparently if you purchase a stein, you are able to use it every time you come back in to get a 22oz pour, but only pay for a 16oz.
Day 2: Salinas, Capitola, and Santa Cruz
- Salinas River National Widlife Refuge: An easy 20 minute hike takes you to a vast – and very quiet – beach where a diverse range of birds play and search for food. The first thing we saw at the beach, however, was what appeared to be a very large ship in the distance. Naturally, we had to check it out. Another 20 minute walk along the beach led us to what was a very old and rusted barge. It was quite the sight! I did a Google search, but no one seems to know the history behind the stranded vessel.
- Lunch at Sushi Garden (Capitola): Just delicious. We ordered 4 rolls between the two of us and that was more than enough.
- Pleasure Point Beach (Santa Cruz): The view of multiple surfers along the wavy coastline at Pleasure Point is gorgeous. This was the highlight of my Sunday.
- Downtown Santa Cruz: You could spend the entire afternoon along Pacific Avenue if you have the time. The bustling street is home to popular stores (e.g. Urban Outfitters), local boutiques, a theater, and restaurants/bars.
- Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery: Located among other breweries and taprooms, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery is a friendly casual spot with outdoor seating and fresh food.
Highlights of Our Weekend in Monterey Bay in Pictures:
Do you have any questions or suggestions on a trip to Monterey Bay? Let me know in the comments!