Ten Favorites in Monterey

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I wrote a post just like this before we left Okinawa and am making it a tradition. (You can read that one here: 10 Favorites on Okinawa)  I wrote this during the last week we were in Monterey, soon after Gracie was born, while we were packing up our house, Cam was taking his language exams and we were saying last minute goodbyes with family and friends. Thank you for understanding why I didn't get a chance to finish it then! For anyone moving to or visiting Monterey, I hope you enjoy your time on that absolutely beautiful stretch of peninsula and that this will be helpful and fun to read.

1. Farmer's Markets. Monterey has amazing markets just about every day of the week and they were the inspiration for all of my recipes last year. You can read more here, Guide to the Monterey & Carmel Farmer's Markets.

2. Walk, run, ride bikes, play, bonfire at Carmel Beach & Carmel River State Beach. It's especially quiet here during the week (so much so I could play my Croatian lessons on my phone speaker and hear it perfectly while walking), the sand is soft, the views from the very short walk or drive from Carmel Beach to River State Beach are breathtaking, it's the perfect spot for bonfires and was where I took John Shea every morning for runarounds (until I was put on bed rest).

3. Hike & Explore in Big Sur. Walk through the redwoods, hike in Big Sur , stop to eat at one of the small cafes on Highway 1 (the view while eating at Nepenthe is unreal), walk to McWay Waterfall and something we didn't get a chance to -- stay in a cabin in Little Sur.

4. Food & Coffee

Best burger: In-n-Out (I miss you)
Best stand-in take out burger in Monterey: Islands
Best restaurant burger: Grasing's in Carmel
Best macaron: Lafayette Bakery in Carmel
Best crepes: Monterey Crepe Company (Cam's favorite coffee is also from here, mine is from The Carmel Coffee House)
Best huevos rancheros: From Scratch Restaurant
Best bakery: Pavel's Bakerei in Pacific Grove (you have to get there early for the fresh donuts and pastries!)
Best place to get a coffee and sit outside in the sunshine while watching your children play in a big grassy field and the kids' gardens: Earthbound Farmstand.  During the Fall it has a pumpkin patch and festival, during the winter they do wreath making workshops. They have an event calendar you can grab inside their little shop.

5. Walk the quaint streets in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I loved buying David Austin Roses for a steal at the Thursday farmer's market and then picking up a coffee while walking John Shea in the stroller through the town and often for a stop to say hi to the owner of his favorite toy shop, Anubee.

6. Hike Point Lobos. Such a breathtaking trail that hugs the rocky coast the entire way -- it's something that we did regularly on the weekends inbetween studying. You can see swarms of seals, seagulls, dolphins and whales in the coves along this hike.

7. Visit Yosemite. It's worth the drive!

8. Visit Napa. It feels pretentious at times (at least it did to us) but the amazing wines make up for it! Also, you can't miss the fresh food at Farmstead.

9. Monterey Wine. You can go to tasting rooms throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea, downtown Monterey, Carmel Valley and our favorite (though not sure if it's still open?) Chateau Julien Vineyard.

10. Walk along the Monterey Harbor. It's especially pretty in the mornings but was also a nice refresher after our language classes when we'd pick up Cam from DLI.

11. Play in and eat dirt.    Just kidding. I only wanted to to see if you made it this far :)


Churches: We tried out a number of good churches like Carmel Presbyterian and Shoreline Community before finding the right fit at Bethlehem Lutheran. The very small congregation is used to young military families coming for only a short year or two before having to say goodbye and yet they immediately treated us like family. They're a living example of community. We miss them! Gracie was also baptized here before we moved.

Housing: We searched and searched for a house out in town but could not find a single one in our budget so we lived on base for the first time in La Mesa, and loved it. We had great neighbors, there were a ton of families with little kids and a bunch of playgrounds. Our backyard was in a really sad state when we moved in, which was perfect for Cam to have a project, ha! He left that space with a lawn, stone path and raised garden.

CHOMP: Cam is making me laugh outloud for putting this in here ("beautiful beaches! great wine! OBGYN!") but I had such a great experience with my doctor and delivering at CHOMP (Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula) that this could be helpful for other expecting mothers. Dr. Alexander was my OB with Gracie and he is hands down the best doctor I've ever had. I'm so grateful that we had him during all of the complications of my pregnancy and Gracie's emergency c-section. We met a couple who actually extended in Monterey just so they could have Dr. A deliver their second child!

Calligraphy! One of the things I wanted to begin to learn while back in the States was calligraphy and I could not have asked for a more gracious teacher than Debra Ferreboeuf. Please feel free to email me for her contact info.

If you live in Monterey (hi Linds! hi Sommer! hi Annie!) or have been there and want to add anything else please do in the comments!


  1. Mike and I love Monterey! It's where we got engaged! I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been in grad school and had a wedding to plan, we would have done language school in Monterey. Definitely a little piece of heaven!

    1. Whaat! I didn't know that! That's awesome. What a beautiful/romantic place to be engaged. I wish you could have come to DLI -- it was a lot of fun whenever all of the Olmsted families got together. Can't wait to see you guys in a few weeks. Yay Roma!

  2. I love this so much and I love you so much especially for putting that pic of JS eating dirt. pretty much how both my boys look at the end of each day! (:

    1. haha I believe it! it's a good day here when he doesn't actually eat it!

  3. We loved it there, wish we could have visited longer! Totally agree about Napa, we didn't have such a great experience with getting good service at wineries (we were babies!). The second time we went to Calistoga and had a blast. It was so much more laid back and the wine was just as good.

    1. I'm so glad we got to see you two though while you came through! And I can't wait to meet that beautiful baby girl-- I hope as soon as we get back to the States.

      Next time we're going to Calistoga.

  4. There's an in n out opening in seaside next month yay!!!! No more going to salinas haha. I will add to the list 17 Mile Drive--we love letting j run around the huge lawn at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach and watch the golfers finish. The views there are so beautiful as well!

    1. I kept hoping and hoping that somehow they would finish it early before we left but instead we would drive that freaking 45 minutes every few weeks because we all craved it so bad! ridiculous but so worth it!
      and good recommendation, too. such a pretty drive.

    2. I also forgot to add the Carmel Mission to this!! We went all the time. Do you and your cute little fam ever go over there, Annie?

  5. Ahhh loved reading this!!! Miss you girl!! And i'm totally up for Skype whenever you are!!

  6. Excellent drawing! If i don't see this site than miss a big site.Business Current Event Articles

  7. Chateau Julien Vineyard is now Folktale Winery & Vineyards, it is a fun spot. Check them out at folktalewinery.com


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