Four Fun Days In Three Great And Gorgeous Coastal Cities
As great as the beach life is in Southern California, I also enjoying heading up the coast on occasion to the upper central coast of the state.
And so on this particular weekend I was invited on a press trip for two nights in Carmel.
Well, it’s a 6-hour driver from Los Angeles on the 101 Highway (a scenic six hours, but still six hours), which is a bit too far to drive for a pair of days. So I phoned a friend in Monterey who has a boat in the harbor to ask to stay on it, and another friend in Santa Cruz to inquire if he wanted a house guest for a night.
With all that in place, I suddenly had myself an awesome weekend! It was so good, I would be hard pressed to point out a single highlight.
Carmel is a place I’ve been to a couple of dozen times but had fallen off my radar of late. It’s a cozy, cute little town with tons of way-too-expensive (for me) art shops and a wide beach on a hill that looks out to the famous Pebble Beach golf course. It’s as gorgeous as it looks on TV.
Accommodations were at Hofsas House, a European-flavored hotel with the kind of friendly family innkeepers you find in Europe. They put a bottle of wine in my room along with cheeses from the delectable Cheese Shop in Carmel. It had a fireplace and was so nice that, well, I never bothered to open the cabinet by the wall to see if it even had a television!
The two-day stay included dinner at a hip tapas restaurant, Mandaka, that shows 60s movies and Wile E Coyote cartoons on the wall. At about 10, they bring in a DJ and if you think Carmel has no young people, this place will prove you wrong. It’s also next door to a fun dive bar, Ode’s, which has great-looking bartenders and even a stripper pole. I liked it better than Jack London’s, the long-standing Carmel dive.
The next day we took the Carmel Food Tour, which took us to cool restaurants and also included two stops for wine. Oh, that’s one thing about this area, there’s wine everywhere, After the food tour we started the Carmel Wine Walk, which for $50 includes seven wine tasting rooms within a couple blocks of one another. Dinner that night was in Pacific Grove and the exceptional Fandago.
Santa Cruz was a blast. My good buddy took me around to all the bars and we don’t do such things lightly. Which means we wound up at the late-night pizza place!
The final top was Monterey and my floating hotel room. The owner did some work on the boat so the wife and I went to the Taste of Monterey wine tasting room, which right over the crashing waves of Monterey Bay.
Then they treated me – mind you, I am staying on their boat they treated me – to a fantastic dinner over the water at the locals’ favorite restaurant in Monterey, Old Fisherman’s Grotto.
It was, indeed a fine four days in three great small California cities. Parting may be such sweet sorrow, but I know I’ll be back soon enough.