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a VirtualTourist member from Swansea


Carmel, Monterey or Pacific Grove

Spending three nights in this area in Oct....our first time in CA. Thought we wanted to stay in Carmel, but now we're not sure. We're in our early 60's, love the beach (walk/jog), good restaurants, a little shopping, and want to stay in a nice, comfortable hotel/B&B within walking distance to beach and town. We are continuing down Hwy 1 to LA. Thanks for any suggestions!

17 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Utsunomiya

It was several years ago but we had a wonderful stay at the Martine Inn in Pacific Grove.

[original VT link]

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Apeldoorn


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Los Barriles

I used to live in the general area, so therefore have not stayed in hotels, but am wondering why you say, " we're not sure"? What specifically has changed your mind; this may be something someone could assist with.

If you were looking at a specific place (or 2) to stay, maybe someone here could help advise.

and it may just be a matter of semantics, but LA is not 'down' from Carmel, but is North, thereby 'up'; so I hope you have your directions correct. (San Diego would be referred to as 'down' fr Carmel.)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Westlake Village

Oh,my. LA, I presume, is Los Angeles and unless the last earthquake shifted the land, LA is south of Carmel and referred to by many, including myself, as down from the Carmel area. In fact, I just recently went up to Carmel-by-the-Sea and came back down to the LA area. For the poster, I will give you my Virtual Tourist Carmel-by-the-Sea webpages to peruse: [original VT link]

It might help change your mind about staying there. It is a great escape and lovely in October. :-)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Los Barriles

OH, Larry, I realize that there are TWO places with similar names!!!

HA! yes, the poster probably means the one to which you refer, though!!

there is Carmel-by-the-Sea exactly where I mentioned, it's south of Carlsbad, north of La Jolla.......but, again, yes, the poster most likely was referring to CARMEL north of LA, south of SFO

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Westlake Village

Trish, you say;

"there is Carmel-by-the-Sea exactly where I mentioned, it's south of Carlsbad, north of La Jolla">

Could you be referring to Cardiff by the Sea? Then you are absoutely correct!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Los Barriles

just got back to the computer fr my big map book, and yes, EGG ON MY FACE!! --what I am thinking of is CARDIFF-by-the-Sea!!

My apologies to the Poster, Larry and anyone else for taking up your time with my addled (?sp) brain!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Westlake Village

Trish, it was just nice to hear from you. Take care. An easy mistake. ;-0

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Los Barriles

Larry, I now realize that I just saw the 'Carmel-by-the-Sea' and didn't even register, the part that said Monterey or Pacific Grove!

I have seen other people make mistakes due to similar 'partial' reading of the query (or sometimes, answer); so maybe it's a good time for us to endeavor to read the entire posting and then maybe, to RE-read it before replying.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Hi folks, and welcome to VT.....d:o)

Now that we have settled the difference between Cardiff and Carmel, - can I assume you are coming "down" from San Francisco? If so there is certainly plenty to do on the way, as well as the Carmel/Monterey area, and on further south.

FIRST AN IMPORTANT NOTE. I know you said October, so should not be a problem, but when the California Dept. of Roads says repair will take months, it is anyone's guess. A major landslide took out the Highway 1 road north of the Bixby bridge, and although they say it will only take a month to repair, I would not hold my breath. So, impoertant to keep in touch and keep an eye on the repair progress. Still Carmel/Monterey are of course accessible, but not the Big Sur road, past the Bixby Bridge as of yet. Take a look:

So much to do, - let me count the ways........

We have some good SF people here so will only say that you should take time out for the Napa/Sonoma wine country, and the best way to prepare for that is to review the pages of my friend "travelgourmet" (see response above). Click on the name above the photo, and follow the links on his travelmap.

You need to spend two nights in Monterey/Carmel and one more night, where depends on if you intend to do a Hearst Castle tour. If so, I recommend staying in Cambria/San Simeon, to take the 8:00am tour. If not, then you can stay in Solvang or San Luis Obispo, or any on the places in the area, including Morro Bay. Or even stay at the famous Madonna Inn. Really interesting story how it came about. The public mens room there is something to behold. The rooms each have their own style, Cave room, Pirate room, Renaisance room etc....

Here are a couple of things to do on the way between Monterey and San Francisco.

Winchester Mystery House. Another very interesting backstory, involving the daughter of the famous manufacturer of the Winchester rifle. She basically went nuts and had a construction crew work day and night adding to the house, - for 38 years. Stairs leading to nowhere doors into empty space, why? She was haunted by the spirits of all the people killed by the Winchester rifle.....and she meant to confuse them. Check it out here...

Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz...? Really weird phenomena to do with the time/space continuum. Nothing like it anywhere else, - and yes, it is not a hoax. It is real. Take a look....see the video:

There is so much to see and do on the San Francisco to L.A. route. I have fronted tours on this route and know it pretty well. Also a nice stop before Monterey is in the Santa Cruz beach/boardwalk community, one of the original 60s counterculture communities, and it shows. You can still see the aging hippies, running the candle shops and such, - it is a good thing.....d:o)

If you leave San Francisco early, you can take your time to get to Monterey. I recommend two nights or even three nights there, due to the abundance of things to see and do. Go through Cannery Row in Monterey, include absolutely the Aquarium. Perhaps a stop at Clint Eastwood's restaurant, The Hogs Breath Inn, in Carmel. (He actually sold it some years ago, but it still trades on his name...). It is on San Carlos and 5th. Dinner I would suggest at The Old Fisherman's grotto, originated by the legendary Sabu (the original Mowgli in The Jungle Book, and now run by his son). Perhaps a lunch in Carmel, or even at the Pebble Beach Golf Course, where you can pick up a gourmet lunch at the Market at Pebble Beach, next to the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Not sure if they have upgrated the brochure for the "17 Mile Drive", heading south, but if you look at the website it you can determine if you want to include it.

Here is my personal page on Carmel/Pebble Beach/Monterey, with all the additional websites you need.

[original VT link]

I would try to stay in Carmel, as it is a B&B type community, and atmospheric as well. Here is Doris Days's place, the Cypress Inn, and many others....

Then drive south through Big Sur, - it is a long and windy road with breathtaking views.(read up on it). Perhaps a stop at the old bohemian mecca, the Nepenthe, a favorite of Elizabeth Taylor, and have lunch. Remember the author Henry Miller? he lived here in Big Sur for decades, and there is a library deticated to him right by the road. The Henry Miller webpage already has news of the landslide on display.

Then on down to Hearst Castle. Drive past the road leading to the castle, and stay overnight in one of the hotels down the road. The very first hotel on the left side of the road, (name escapes me), quite often would have Hearst family members do a informal talk with slides from the glory days of the family. Always a big highlight with my tour members. The tours at the castle start at 8:00 am, (they have a virtual tour on their website now). You cannot drive up there but take their bus up the hill.

Then continue south where you pass Morro Bay and Morro Rock, - and join highway 101, and then consider making a left at Highway 246 for about 5 miles to the Scandinavian village of Solvang. It is worth a quick stop.

Go back to 101, and continue through Santa Barbara. If you want to see some of this town, drive up State Street, and take your time.

As I said, if you decide not to take in the Hearst Castle tour, then you can pick a place to stay, as I said above.

Continue down through City of Ventura. Consider taking Harbor Blvd offramp for about a mile and you will see the Ventura Harbor sign. Turn right and go all the way around to the farthest parking lot and walk in to the harbor for a late lunch. Worth a stop.

When you leave, turn right on Harbor Blvd and run it all the way to Channel Islands Blvd, and go right to the Oxnard Blvd. Pacific Coast Highway intersection. Turn right on Highway 1, and take that road along the beach all the way through Malibu. Here is a site that lets you in on who lives in Malibu these days:

Take note of Zuma Beach, the surfer's mecca, immortalized in the film Point Break with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swazsy. Pacific Coast Hightway (Highway 1) will run into interstate 10 at Santa Monica Pier. This is kinda the short version but feel free to E-Mail me if you want further instructions.

Dont' worry about driving in L.A., - yes a lot of people are threatened by it having heard about our endless traffic. L.A. is the only major city in the U.S., that is built around the automobile and is therefore very much spread out, - an absolute opposite of San Francisco, which is very compact, and there you definately don't need a car. So don't pick up a car until ready to leave SF.

Good idea to stay in Hollywood, although parking is a little tight, as there are many things to see and do there that can be enjoyed on foot. There are plenty of hotels on or around Hollywood Blvd, but do not cosider any less than 3 or even 4 star hotel there. Here is my favorite old hotel, the legendary Hollywood Roosevelt, the home of the original Oscars. Great club there called the Cinegrill. Also a great place for celebrity sightings, especially at the pool.

Or do what I think is a great idea. Stay at the Magic Castle Hotel, which will get you into the iconic Magic Castle, a legendary private club, that just has to be seen, if at all possible. Check it out.

Take a look at my Los Angeles/Hollywood/Beverly Hills page, chock full of information on the areas with plenty of websites to absorb as well:

[original VT link]

There is more of course, but this ought to get you both started......

Hope this is of some service. Don't hesitate to ask specifics.......d:o)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Stockton

I would find a B&B in Pacific Grove. The beach walk is really outstanding there as the city has managed to restore most of the coastline to it's original unique habitat after a century of degradation. There are little sandy trails that go from tide pool to sandy cove, and back to tide pool, with a variety of lovely native bunch grasses and small but exotic flowering plants along the way. The beach at Carmel is simply sand and dangerous surf. The coast between Carmel and Pacific Grove is called Pebble Beach, where there's the lovely and winding 17 mile drive which goes through a remarkable number of forest habitats, featuring a number of different types of pine, cyprus, and magnolia tree groves, and an equal number of world famous golf courses. Pebble Beach is now trying to get the golf courses to preserve water, fertilize less, and replant the rough with native plant species, but they still have a lot of ice plant and other invasive species to weed out. Pacific Grove also has a quaint downtown, and a number of restaurants. But, then again, if you are spending 3 nights, you can within minutes travel down through Pebble Beach for a restaurant and walk in downtown Carmel, and then return to your room in Pacific Grove.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Swansea

Thank you soooo much for your detailed reply. I have been searching numerous sites, esp. VT, Trip Advisor and reading Travel Guides for about a month now. My head is spinning and I've become a bit obsessive planning this trip :-) I like to make our hotel and restaurant choices memorable travel destinations so the plethora of hotels is overwhelming!! I'd like to keep the hotel costs around200. This is what I've planned so far: Arriving in SF Oct. 19 for 3 nights. Will probably stay in a hotel near Union Sq. with a continental breakfast included (we're not big breakfast eaters, we rise early and want to get going!!) I'll check out your site for suggestions.

We'll rent a car then leave for a 3 night stay in the Monterey area. Would like to stop in Santa Cruz.....will we have time? I liked Atufft's reasons for staying in PG. I also think we'd like Carmel. Would love to stay at the Cypress Inn, but it is too expensive. Is there a big difference in hotel prices between PG and Carmel? We do like to walk/jog on the beach or trails so I think both places will work. We're definitely doing the 17 Mile Drive and stopping at Pebble Beach is a definite........I'm a golfer :-)
Will probably skip the aquarium, but will spend time in Monterey.

We leave on the 25th. We planned on lunch at The Nepenthe. Read about the mudslide. I'm wondering if we should reschedule our trip if the highway is not repaired by July? Big Sur is one of the highlights of the trip!! We're booked on SW so changing isn't a major problem. We plan on 2 nights in Cambria, Pismo Beach or Morro Bay....leaning toward Cambria. A Hearst Castle tour is a must. Want to spend some time in SLO then maybe a quick trip to one or two vineyards in Paso Robles??

Head "down" :-) to the LA area on the 27th for our final 3 nights. Want to drive through Santa Barbara and will follow your directions from there. Wanted to stay in Santa Monica to be near the beaches again, although the hotels are expensive. Will also look into Marina del Rey. We will definitely do the touristy Hollywood sites. We fly home on an AM flight out of LAX.

Thanks again!!! I'll keep reading and may have more specific questions later. Please advise on any problems you see with the above itinerary.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

You are very welcome.....d:o)

Looks fine, mainly as you are taking enough time to do this. Most people want to do thisw trip from SFO to LAX in a couple of days.

Yosu clearly hve done your homework, so not much to add. Perhaps a visit to the pages of VT member travelgourmet, (See above), as he is our resident expert on California wine country, both "up north" in Napa and Sonoma, but also "down" on the Central Coast including Paso Robles and Solvang/Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez regions. Click on his name by the photo and you will get his excellent pages full of additional information.

Atufft's ideas regarding Pacific Grove are spot on, - it is indeed a beautiful alternative to the Carmel B&Bs. Yes, the Cypress Inn is not cheap, but not much is in the area, certainly not Pacific Grove. But there are places affordable to you. Check the B&B link I gave you.

As far as the landslide, I am confident that it will be fixed by the time of your journey. Too much money will be lost if it is not by all the people that depend on this road, and many of them have a lot of clout. I actually look for it to be put on the fast track as to not loose all the summer traffic.

Don't know if you have a laptop, but if you do and can take it with you, you can stay in touch while on the trip, and ask about things that come up. Happens all the time. I was directing a young couple that travelled to my home country Iceland, and they literally would come to a crossroad and post a " help, which way should we go...."

Sounds like you have a plan. Any questions, don't hesitate to ask, and again, welcome to VT. I think you maight like it here.....d:o)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Westlake Village

sounds like a great road trip. As to visiting SLO and then going to Paso Robles for a couple of wineries, it is really out of the way. Paso Robles has many fine wineries but it is over a half hour drive up a steep incline from SLO on Hwy 101. If coming by the hopefully opened Hwy 1, you do end up at SLO but LA is south on Hwy 101. Why not just stay in SLO and visit the great little boutique wineries of the Edna Valley, only about 2 miles from downtown SLO. See my VT SLO pages for the wineries under Things to Do, Off the Beaten Path or Travelogue: [original VT link]

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Well larry, i told them you were our wine conneseur, with pages on all the Central Coast Solvang Santa Yenez wineries......d:o)

I could talk about them, but not nearly as well as Larry can. My favorites are the Zaca Mesa Winery and Firestone Winery, - yes THAT Firestone. A 'black sheep" son of the Firestone tire family shunned the family fortune and opened up a winery, - and it is a good one.

Both are located in the vicinity of Los Olivos off of Highway 154. Consider this, - coming south on Highway 101, turn left on 154 (San Marcos Pass Road), to Los Olivos, and visit the wineries and continue to Highway 246 where you make a right turn, into Santa Ynes a quaint small semi western town, where you can continue on to Solvang the town in the Danish community. (link in prior response), and then about five miles back to 101.....

Google Maps Los Olivos and you will see this detour from 101 back to 101.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Westlake Village

Yes Erik, thanks for the plug. You have some wonderful tips for the poster, as well. I was writing at the same time as you. The Zaca Mesa Winery is a very good winery and I enjoy the setting out in the hills of Los Olivos, all to their lonesome. As for Firestone Vineyards, they are owned by Bill Foley since 2007 and the so called misnomered "black sheep" most likely works as the manager of the Firestone Paso Robles Winery. BTW, this might be the former Bachelor as he is getting married soon. :-)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hesperia

Yes Larry, I know he was not really a "black sheep", but was portrayed as such since he bucked the family tradition and went into the wine business instead of the family business. I am a bit rusty on those stories, which I was quite well versed in when doing the Grand California Tours.

Not sure if I included this regarding the Hearst Castle, and likely out of date information, but members of the Hearst family children used to come down to the hotel in San Simeon and give "fireside chats" and show home movies, to my tour groups, but it was a while ago and likely a tradition that has ended.

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