After visiting Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Big Sur, we ended our California trip in Monterey and Carmel. It’s crazy how different the landscape and temperature is between Southern California and Northern California. You really need to layer in Northern California, because it gets cold. After watching Big Little Lies on HBO, I was dying to visit Monterey. In Monterey we stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Honestly, we weren’t that impressed with the hotel. If we had done things differently we would have stayed in another hotel in Monterey or in Carmel. The hotel was a bit outdated; however, was in a great location. We ended up loving Carmel more than Monterey. Although, both areas are beautiful.
The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is located on Cannery Row. You can walk to most of the shops and restaurants from there. One of the major highlights of Monterey is the Monterey Bay Aquarium; however, we didn’t go. If we come back to visit when we have kids, we’ll be sure to go. The Monterey Bay is also famous for whale watching, kayaking, and sea otters. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales, but we saw plenty of sea otters.
One of my highlights of staying in Monterey, was eating lunch at Paluca Trattoria, also known as the ‘Harborside Café’ in HBO’s ‘Big Little Lies’. The ‘Harborside Café’ where Nicole Kidman’s, Reese Witherspoon’s, and Shailene Woodley’s characters often meet is located at Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf is also a huge attraction in Monterey. With its local seafood markets and souvenir shops, it is a Monterey classic, though it can feel a bit touristy. We only went to the Fisherman’s Wharf once and walked around after eating lunch at Paluca Trattoria. The food at Paluca Trattoria was surprisingly good for being in such a tourist destination and you can watch for sea otters in the ocean while you eat.
In all Monterey is a cute area, but more touristy. We ended up loving Carmel because it’s a quieter beach town and has a great downtown, shopping and restaurants. In my next post I’ll recap our time in Carmel.