A Week in California, part 3: Monterey, Carmel, & San Jose

In my past two posts, I’ve been blogging about my recent trip to California. Part One covered Napa, San Fran, and the surrounding area, and Part Two was all about Yosemite. For my third and final post, I wanted to cover the last leg of my trip: Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and San Jose. . .

Big Sur

  • 17-Mile Drive & Big Sur: I honestly thought that after experiencing Yosemite, nothing would rival its beauty. I was happy to be wrong. Pebble Beach’s 17-Mile Drive is the prettiest road trip you’ll ever take. There’s a slight fee for driving, and it’s worth every penny. They have an app (and will hand you a map) and it’s helpful to follow along as you stop at each pullover and enjoy the highlights of the coastline. You’ll spot Insta-famous views like The Lone Cypress, and can wrap up your drive with lunch at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, which is open to the public. Continue on to Big Sur to enjoy a more rugged coastline, and drive over the famed Bixby Bridge.
  • Monterey & Carmel: Monterey is tiny but cute, and has some great waterfront views, but you’re really going to want to spend your time dining and window-shopping in the neighboring Carmel-by-the-Sea. This picturesque town seems like it belongs in Europe: part Mediterranean, part French, part MAGIC. You could spend an entire weekend here, and come back with a full stomach and an empty wallet from all the good wine, food, and cute boutiques. We had a great breakfast at Katy’s Place, stuck our toes in the sand at Carmel Beach, and enjoyed one of the best meals of the entire trip at the too-cute La Bicyclette. If I went back, I’d check out one of the endless wine-tasting options, and dine at Vesuvio, which appeared to have awesome rooftop dining; Little Napoli, which smelled so good even my full stomach was tempted (and, coincidentally, is managed by the same group as Vesuvio); and Forge in the Forest, which had a tiny courtyard garden that looked like something out of a fairy tale.
  • San Jose: We had one last hurrah in San Jose, where we stayed at an airport hotel so that we could catch an early morning flight home. I probably wouldn’t have bothered exploring this area (amateur mistake), but thankfully a friend told us to scope out the nearby Santana Row, which is where Silicon Valley goes to shop, dine, and most importantly . . . people watch. It was like a giant, high-end, outdoor mall on steroids, complete with a pop-up bar designed to look like an actual cathedral, down to its working fountain. If you ever happen to be flying out of the San Jose airport, it’s worth strolling through. We also discovered (too late to squeeze it in, unfortunately) the Winchester Mystery House. The place look off-the-charts crazy, and I’m really bummed I missed it, so I’ll definitely be trying to route any future California flights through San Jose!

I hope this series has been helpful, and that you consider some California explorations of your own!





*Main image via Pexels, all other photos are my own


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