About The Monterey Peninsula Area
The Monterey Peninsula Area
This part of California makes a great three-day stopover while exploring the Northern Central Coast, and includes some of the more fascinating and varied of the region’s communities. The best places to visit lie within a short drive, or in some cases a bicycle ride, of one another, on, or close to, the Monterey Peninsula.
You can start in the town of Monterey in order to gain a real sense of California’s Spanish and Mexican past. Some of the state’s earliest official buildings were cited here and many still stand in an excellent historical park. The Spanish mission originally sited at Monterey mission was moved a few miles south to Carmel where it remains in a community otherwise famed for its dainty, half-timbered cottages – a rare sight indeed in the U.S.
Spend a bit of time in Carmel as crossing the peninsula, with its labyrinthine local roads to Pacific Grove, can be arduous but the small town, spread across the northern tip, is a quiet residential community with fantastic ocean views that attracts more butterflies than tourists.
From here you can travel east from the peninsula to the inland valleys, which are warm and sunny even when fogs chill the coast. Salinas, the largest valley town, is a reminder of California’s role as one of the world’s major agricultural producers, but has greater appeal as the birthplace of writer John Steinbeck. Nearby San Juan Bautista has a mission, and a State Historical Park that offers an interesting glimpse into the California of the late 1800s.
This is a popular vacation area, so be prepared for prices which are higher than usual and try to book ahead. That said, one handy trick is to turn up on spec in the hope of being offered an otherwise unoccupied room at a knock-down rate.
Eating can be expensive, too, although the quality of the restaurants is high. Seafood is plentiful and fresh, while the preponderance of classy European cuisines is one reason why Californians – noted as discerning diners – have a special fondness for the peninsula area.
Details of bus services in the Monterey Peninsual area are given in Between Santa Cruz/San Jose and San Luis Obispo.