9 Romantic Things to Do in Monterey

categories: Central Coast

One of my wife and my favorite places to go for a romantic getaway is the Monterey Peninsula. Here are some romantic things to do on a weekend for two in Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel.

Stay In an Inn

There are some great hotels on the peninsula, including some right on the water in Monterey or in the middle of touristy Cannery Row, but for my money, a stay in one of the many inns in Pacific Grove is more romantic.
A number of Victorian-era homes and boarding houses in Pacific Grove have been converted to inns. The Seven Gables Inn, the Martine Inn, and the Green Gables Inn have great locations right on the water between the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lover’s Point. They are also some less expensive options inland a couple of blocks including the Gosby House, and our perennial favorite, the Centrella Inn. For an extra splurge at the Centrella book one of the cottages or the Lover’s Loft.

Seventeen Mile Drive

Seventeen Mile Drive has been attracting tourists since before I moved to Monterey County in the 1960s. If you are a golfer, a visit to Pebble Beach is nearly mandatory, although whether that fits in a romantic weekend I would leave to you and your sweetie. You can make a reservation to play a round of golf but do so in advance.

Stop at the Lone Cypress for a photo opportunity at what is reputed to be the most photographed tree in the world. Be grateful that unlike the Cypress you are not alone.

A Walk Along The Shore

While Seventeen Mile Drive may be a big draw, it is mostly mansions and golf courses. I would recommend a walk along the shore in Pacific Grove instead. Our favorite walk is the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail from Lover’s Point to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You will certainly see harbor seals at the Beach by the Hopkins Marine Station. You are also likely to see sea otters floating on their back among the kelp, so bring binoculars. Sea otters mate for life. Be inspired by that.

A Bike or Surrey Ride

You can rent a bike or even a surrey and explore further on the coast trail. The trail continues on from the Aquarium to Fisherman’s Wharf and then miles up the coast to Marina. The part of the trail from Lover’s Point to Fisherman’s Wharf is flat and is the prettiest section. But further north along the bay is where you will find large sand dunes, starting around the Monterey Tides hotel.

Rent a Sea Kayak

Whether you take a guided sea kayak tour or just rent a kayak, nothing can quite test your love for each other than trying to maneuver a double sea kayak together (there is a reason some guides call these divorce boats). Even if you have to rent two separate boats for the good of your long term relationship, exploring the coast of the bay from a kayak can be a great experience.

Drive The Pacific Coast Highway

Take a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, past Carmel towards Big Sur. This is a great drive for people who love to drive. You can explore Pfeiffer Big Sur or Andrew Molera State Parks or you can just enjoy the scenery on the highway itself. If you come past the Highland’s Inn south of Carmel near sunset, stop for a drink at the bar with one of the best views.

Take a Hike

There are a number of great state and regional parks in the area but the gem is Point Lobos State Reserve. This point is covered with gnarled Cypress trees and Spanish moss. It has beautiful walks along the coast. What it doesn’t have is parking. So this is the park to go to for the early risers. Those of you who like to sleep in may need to park along the highway and walk into the reserve.

Wine Tasting

Carmel used to be just about art galleries, restaurants, and small shops but it is hard to run a small shop in the days of Amazon.com.  A new trend in Carmel is wine tasting rooms. There are at least 13 different wine tasting rooms in Carmel these days. You can stop by anyone or if you live nearby or visit often you can buy a wine passport that will give you 10 tastings for $100. Many of the wineries will wave the cost of a tasting when you buy a bottle. We are down to our last two tastings on a wine passport but we keep not using them up because when we visit our favorite tasting room, the comfortable De Tierra, we know we will undoubtedly pick up a bottle of their red wine blend, the Puzzler.

Romantic Dinner

If you can’t find a great restaurant for a romantic dinner on the Monterey Peninsula then you just are not trying.

For seafood, you can try one of the restaurants on the wharf like Old Fisherman’s Grotto or one of the local favorites like Monterey’s Fish House on busy Del Monte Ave or the Fishwife off the beaten path in Pacific Grove.

Beach House at Lovers Point

Beach House at Lovers Point

If your budget is set on “splurge”, The Chart House on Pacific Grove has been there longer than I have been alive, but still gets good reviews. The Beach House at Lovers Point has one of the best views but in a more affordable price range. Our favorite is Peppers Mexicali Cafe in Pacific Grove.

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That’s 9 things you can do in the Monterey Area. There are many more. We have been coming to Monterey for over 30 years and we are not tired of it yet. What would you add to my list?

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

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