Girls Getaway Guide to the California Central Coast
Summer is the perfect time to embark on an unforgettable adventure along California's stunning Central Coast. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, food and wine lover, ‘Big Little Lies’ fan, embracing the ‘Coastal Grandma’ trend, or simply seeking a relaxing coastal retreat with girlfriends or a significant other, the Monterey Peninsula offers a wide range of places to discover and enjoy.
Located just an hour and a half away from our headquarters, we enjoy frequent visits to the area and are excited to share our top things to do, see, eat, and stay in Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach, and Big Sur.
Monterey: A Historic Haven by the Sea
Monterey, the historic capital of California, is a charming coastal town that blends rich history with natural beauty. Start at Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck's novel, and stroll along the waterfront to soak in the lively atmosphere. Visit the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium to witness a mesmerizing array of marine life.
Where to Stay:
Monterey Plaza Hotel - incredible waterfront property with a rooftop spa and delicious seafood.
Rooftop at the Monterey Plaza Hotel Spa
Portola Hotel & Spa - where the cast of ‘Big Little Lies’ stayed! Centrally located in downtown Monterey and within walking distance to many shops and restaurants.
Where to Eat:
Cafe Fina - a yummy seafood restaurant, sustainably harvested located on Fisherman’s warf
Osteria Al Mare - some of the best Italian food in the Monterey peninsula. Try the San Dab pasta!
What to Do:
Monterey Bay Aquarium - a must-see! Arrive early to beat the crowds. It’s also where Jane worked in ‘Big Little Lies.’
Princess Monterey Bay Whale Watching - with some of the best whale watching in the world, spending a half day out on Monterey Bay will not disappoint. We’ve gone twice and have seen dozens of humpback whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, and even blue whales, which are super rare!
Whale Watching in Monterey Bay
Kayak - for a more up-close marine life experience, rent a kayak for an hour or two.
Carmel-by-the-Sea: An Enchanting European-Style Village
Just a short drive from Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea are what fairy-tales are made of. This quaint coastal village is known for its charming cottages, boutique shops, and art galleries. Stroll along Ocean Avenue, lined with cute cafes and shops, and explore the artistry of the many galleries. Carmel Beach is dog-friendly and a perfect place to watch sunsets.
The Hideaway - recently renovated, The Hideaway is the perfect blend of modern meets charm in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The Playa Carmel - a boutique Spanish hotel, The Playa is centrally located and hosts a great happy hour.
What to Eat:
Carmel Belle - a solid choice for breakfast and lunch.
Cultura - for authentic Mexican food, check out this local favorite. Try their queso fundido and tres tacos plate.
Chez Noir - for a fancier meal, be sure to make reservations at this top-notch, French-inspired restaurant.
Joyasol Founder, Christina, and model/friend, Tina, enjoying a nice dinner at Chez Noir post photoshoot
What to Do:
Hiking - for the adventurous spirits, the nearby Point Lobos State Natural Reserve offers scenic hiking trails and picturesque coves. Tip: you'll want to stay on the path since the area can have poison oak!
Art Galleries and shopping - embrace your inner coastal grandma, and pop into the various art galleries and boutique shops. Try Paloosh Boutique for the cutest outfits and accessories!
Go for a Joy Ride - rent a classic car and head south on the 1 to the famous Bixby Bridge, as seen on the intro for 'Big Little Lies.' If you feel like seeing more, keep driving south to Big Sur, which is about an hour away!
Overlooking Bixby Bridge
For our latest photoshoot, we rented a classic car through Monterey Touring Vehicles and had the best time! Be sure to take lots of pictures, turn the music up, and just enjoy the ride!
Kicking back and enjoying the ride along the California Coast in our Paisley Sneakers
Carmel Valley: A Scenic Country Escape
Located a few miles inland, Carmel Valley spans a long stretch of beautiful rolling hills and perfect weather. Known for its wineries, hiking, golf and restaurants, Carmel Valley is a relaxing home base when staying in the area. The weather tends to be about 10 degrees warmer here, so pack your swimsuit!
Where to Stay:
The Bernardus - feel like you’ve been transported to the South of France, The Bernardus feels like a European escape. Adorned with lush gardens, bocce ball court, live music, a swimming pool, infinity hot tub, and world-class spa, you’ll find endless things to do here.
Our Founder, Christina Bullock, Relaxing at The Bernardus
Carmel Valley Ranch - nestled in the valley amongst the green rolling hills, Carmel Valley Ranch as everything you need for the perfect stay.
Where to Eat:
Lucia - located at The Berndus, Lucia features fresh farm to table cuisine showcasing the best of the area.
Baja Cantina- for something more lively, check out this local hot spot featuring delicious tacos, margaritas, live music and dancing.
What to Do:
Refuge - for the ultimate detox and recharge, check out Refuge. With cold plunge, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, and massages, you’ll feel like a new person.
Hiking - with over 25 scenic trails in Carmel Valley, there’s a hike for everyone. Check out All Trails to find the best one to fit your needs.
Pebble Beach: What California Coast Dreams are Made of
Pebble Beach is a coastal gem and a golfer's paradise that must not be missed. Enjoy a scenic drive along the famous 17-Mile Drive, reveling in the picturesque landscapes, dramatic cliffs, and iconic golf courses. As you venture along this scenic route, make sure to stop at the iconic Lone Cypress, one of California's most recognizable landmarks. If you like golf, try to make reservations ahead of time at one of the world-famous golf courses, like Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Poppy Hills.
The Iconic Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach
Where to Stay:
Casa Palmero: feel like you’re in Europe with this Spanish style boutique hotel, adjacent to the spa.
The Inn at Spanish Bay: a larger resort, Spanish Bay has everything you’ll need during your stay. With several restaurants and bars, a pool and tennis courts, you may not ever want to leave.
Where to Eat:
The Bench - located at the famous Lodge at Pebble beach, enjoy stunning views of the iconic 18th green while eating wood-fired pizza. Try their bread balloons!
Hay’s Place - a must-stop for amazing Mexican food. Try their tin can nachos and Tiger Woods’ fajitas.
Stillwater - if espresso martinis are your thing, you must stop here for quite possibly the best espresso martinis you'll ever have.They also have great seafood and pasta dishes.
The Best Espresso Martini You'll Ever Have
What to do:
17 Mile Drive - a must-see. If you're not staying at one of the Pebble Beach resorts or dining at one of the restaurants, you'll need to pay the $11 entrance fee. But trust us, it's worth it! Every turn has an Insta-worthy view!
Stunning Coastline in Pebble Beach
Spa - make a reservation at the iconic Pebble Beach Spa. Enjoy their steam rooms, saunas, salt rooms and juice bar for the most relaxing afternoon.
Rent a bike - if you really want to soak up the scenery along 17 Mile Drive, then you’ll want to rent a bike in nearby Monterey or Carmel. Check Yelp for various rental companies.
Golf - people travel all over the world to play at Pebble Beach, so if golf is your thing you obviously can't miss the chance to play at one of their iconic golf courses. Pebble Beach Golf Links is the most famous, but you'll need to book a room at one of the resorts and also make a golf tee time months in advance.
Horseback riding - a fun way to get to know the area better and a unique chance to stroll along the ocean on a horse!
Horseback Riding Along 17 Mile Drive
Bagpipers - watching the bagpiper play at the Spanish Bay Lodge at sunset is almost like a ritual when visiting the area. Be sure to get there early to grab a spot by the firepits!
Bagpiper playing at sunset at Spanish Bay
To wrap things up, you really can’t go wrong wherever you decide to stay or go in the Monterey area. We recommend staying for at least a weekend. It’s nearly impossible to do it all in one trip, so just pick a few things from this list and save the rest for another time.
Have you been to the Monterey area? Share some of your favorite spots in the comments.