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Inspired Trips Up the California Coast: Monterey

With the iconic coastal highway now fully open, bridges back in action, Monterey, just outside of Big Sur, aims to attract meetings, millennials, meanderers

As COVID-19 restrictions relax across the United States and in the state of California, Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is putting the message out that Monterey is the perfect scenic and affordable playground for those seeking a California vacation in an area that has it all.

Those who travel to Monterey County in the coming months will find outdoor adventures for every skillset, a growing food and wine scene, immersive cultural experiences, stunning scenic drives, and the opportunity to explore the fascinating marine life that call the Monterey Bay home.

“With Highway 1’s reopening, there is no better time for travelers to rekindle their sense of adventure in Monterey County,” said Rob O’Keefe, president and CEO at Monterey County CVB.

The destination has created a “Now is the Moment” campaign to deliver exclusive offers, new itineraries made up of must-experience moments and fresh ways to take advantage of the wide spaces and iconic experiences along California’s central coast. The Monterey County CVB has curated a list to make the planning easier.

Only in Monterey Moments

Book the new Bikes, Bites & Bevs Tour offered by Carmel Food Tours and Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop, that includes an e-bike ride to picturesque Point Lobos State Park followed by a walking food tour in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Seize the moment from 15,000 feet over the Monterey Bay with Skydive Monterey Bay’s new Silver Package that offers adventure seekers the chance to experience “California’s Highest Tandem Jump” at a 35 percent discount.

Stave Wine Cellar at Pebble Beach Resort’s The Inn at Spanish Bay will offer an ‘Exclusive Moments’ tasting experience during the month of May, partnering with the best producers in California to create three unique wines exclusive to the resort.

The Sardine Factory, located within Monterey’s historic Cannery Row, is offering a new ‘Monterey Moment’ cocktail May through June. Made with limoncello, lemon juice, orange juice, blue curacao and topped with champagne, the refreshing drink has hints of blue to convey the Monterey Bay.

New art installations in Sand City have recently transformed the coastal town into one of the most accessible outdoor public art galleries on the peninsula. Take a self-guided walking tour around the West End to see the new public art, completed by local and national artists.

Big Sur’s beloved Pine Ridge Trail recently reopened after being closed for five years. Located in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, the 19.5-mile trail leads hikers from Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp with a cover of redwoods, pine and oak along the way.

The famed Monterey Bay Aquarium is reopening to the public on May 15, ending a 13-month closure. Dedicated to marine research and conservation, the Aquarium features 35,000 creatures representing over 550 sea life and marine species. Be one of the first to revisit the Aquarium by reserving a general admission ticket.

The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas reopens May 6. The center is dedicated to legendary author John Steinbeck who was born and raised in Monterey County’s agricultural hub. Steinbeck drew on his experience growing up in the region for novels such as “Cannery Row” and its sequel “Sweet Thursday.”

Monterey in May

Spring is one of the best times to visit Pinnacles National Park where adventurers can enjoy mild temperatures and a variety of wildflowers. Hoping to spot a magnificent California condor? Set out for a hike on the strenuous 8.4-mile High Peaks-Balconies Loop or opt for the Bench Trail’s spotting scopes in the early morning or early evening.

Kayak Connection’s Starlight Bioluminescence Tour in Moss Landing starts before sunset for easy viewing of resident marine life frolicking and feeding at dusk. Once the sun goes down, visitors enjoy the glow while paddling through the bioluminescent waters.

May is the prime month to spot Pacific Grove’s majestic purple phenomenon, dubbed the “Purple Carpet.” View thousands of magenta ice plants take over the coastline along Ocean View Boulevard by foot, bike, car or boat.

A renowned whale-watching destination, Monterey brings opportunities to see the great gray whale migration and the return of the humpback whales to the Monterey Bay this spring. The spring season also brings greater sightings of killer whales to the area as well. Book a whale watching tour from Monterey or Moss Landing.

There is no better place to kick off the start of Rosé season than sunny Carmel Valley. Located in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, Carmel Valley wineries offer an abundance of varieties with several specializing in Grenache Rose. Must-tries include the sparkling Rosé at Folktale Winery and Vineyards.

Inviting Lodging Options in Monterey

Monterey Tides is offering guests up to 30 percent off stays through May 27, 2021 with its Spring Savings by The Sea promotion. The beach becomes guests’ backyard during a stay at the centrally located boutique property. Head to nearby Monterey State Beach, Del Monte Beach or Sand City Beach to grab a moment in the sun.

Book a stay at Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Horizon Inn & Ocean View Lodge for its Mindful by the Beach program. Free to guests every Monday in April, the program includes a guided 45-minute Mindfulness Session at Carmel Beach followed by light refreshments and wine around a bonfire.

Through June 30, 2021, the Hofsas House Hotel is offering a “sweet” deal to guests. Stay for at least two nights and receive a box of locally made Lula’s Chocolates and a Hofsas House tote bag. Indicate “Sweet Internet Special” when reserving online or calling to make a reservation.

The ultra-romantic Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina is offering a Love, Stay & Namaste package that includes overnight accommodations, a private beach yoga session, chilled sparkling wine and breakfast delivered to the property’s private beachfront cottages.

Embassy Suites by Hilton in Seaside is offering a Stay & Play package complete with 36 holes of golf at Bayonet and Black Horse. Overlooking the Monterey Bay, the course was built in the 1950s by General Bob McClure and has since been the host site of two PGA Professional Championships.

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