If you’ve never traveled along the Pacific Coast, or maybe you’d just like to experience it from a new perspective, there are few things quite like a road trip to take in the sights and experiences that make the journey one to remember.
A road trip lets you set your own pace and enjoy the companionship of friends or family. When you’re ready to explore, outdoor adventures, historical experiences and 99 miles of coastline await in Monterey County, California, which is known as a scenic, beautiful expanse along the Pacific Coast. From wide-open beaches, verdant vineyards and fields to the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains, there’s plenty of room to roam.
Some of the top scenic drives in the world are along California’s coast, where you’ll find a wide range of local topography. One example is Highway 1, where starting toward the north, you’ll see the state’s second largest wetlands, artichoke fields and rolling sand dunes, as well as cypress forests and the craggy coastline. Further south, you’ll encounter towering cliffs, redwoods and awe-inspiring bridges.
Other notable sights include fishing ports; beaches; wildlife including seals, sea lions and sea otters; the famed Lone Cypress; mansions; and several championship golf courses.
When you’re ready for some action, there’s plenty to find along the coast. From a captivating 18-mile long recreation trail with coastline views to kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, whale-watching excursions and more, there are numerous ways to whet an appetite for adventure near the ocean. Inland, you’ll find options like hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, cave exploring and horseback riding.
Along the California coast, you can find tens of thousands of acres of vineyards producing more than 53 different varietals of wine. In Monterey County alone, you can take your pick among 65 tasting rooms set against picturesque backdrops. How you choose to experience wine country is as diverse as the varietals you’ll discover. For example, you might head to the beach with a newly purchased bottle of your favorite wine, jump aboard a wine trolley to let someone else do the driving for a while or schedule a tour that takes you behind the scenes with a winemaker.
No visit to the coast is complete without a visit to the beach, but not all beaches are the same. From white sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, you could plan an entire road trip around the different kinds of beaches waiting for you to discover their beauty. Enjoy bird spotting, rock collecting, surfing, tide pooling and more.
Some of the area’s greatest treasures are the lesser-known beaches, including one that sits in the middle of Cannery Row. The sheltered cove of McAbee Beach was used by Portuguese whalers in the 1850s and Chinese fishermen in the early 1900s. Today, this secret beach is a perfect spot to let kids burn off energy before or after a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Visitors can spot seals and otters playing offshore, and it’s a popular launching point for scuba divers exploring the kelp forests.
Wellness for Body and Mind
When you’ve taken in the sights and explored to your heart’s content, be sure to leave time for rejuvenation. From spas and meditation retreats to spending time in nature, it’s easy to make wellness a priority when visiting the California coast. You can even enjoy food that’s as good for you as it is delicious with a growing focus on sustainability by visiting daily farmers’ markets and fish markets, which provide a bounty of locally sourced produce, fresh meat, seafood and hand-made treasures for a truly enriching cultural experience.