What to do in Monterey, Carmel, & Big Sur

Over Labor Day weekend, I went to Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur. Here are my recommendations for where to stay, where to eat, and what to do while in these beautiful towns.

What to Do

We were only there for 3 days and were able to fit all of this in!

  1. Visit Cannery Row in Monterey. This street was made famous by John Steinbeck and the sardine canneries that lined the street. There are plenty of candy shops, stores, and restaurants. There is even a wine tasting room (Carmel Ridge Winery Tasting Room).
  2. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. With dozens of restaurants, shops, candy stores, and marine life tours there is plenty to do here.


  3. 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. It is cash only! When we went it was $10.25 per car. They give you a map with numerous overlook points including a white sand beach, a rock known for being the hang out spot for many harbor seals, the lone cypress tree that grew out of a rock and has stood there for 250 years, “ghost trees” whose trunks were bleached white from the salt and sun, Pebble Beach Golf Course, and much more.


  4. Go shopping in Carmel.
  5. Go to tasting rooms in Carmel. We went to Dawn’s Dream!IMG_2767
  6. Visit Carmel River State Beach for sunsets.


  7. Take a short drive (about an hour) to Santa Lucia Highlands. We went to Wrath Vineyard and Hahn Vineyard. Hahn sits about a mile up the mountains and their porch has amazing views of the valley. Wrath sits in the valley and they have a patio overlooking the water. Known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


  8. Lovers Point Park. You can either drive and park or walk along Cannery Row and continue walking along the coast.


  9. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Make sure to stop at all the overlook points, Bixby Creek Bridge, McWay Falls, and Pfeiffer Beach and Keyhole Arch.

Where to Eat


  1. Dametra’s Cafe
  2. Treehouse Cafe
  3. Porto Bella’s in Carmel

Big Sur

  1. Big Sur Taphouse


  1. Schooner’s – overlooks the ocean and bay
  2. Paluca Trattoria in Fisherman’s Wharf

Where to Stay

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Sitting right on the water, this 4-star hotel offers stunning views, great service, and sits between Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf. There is a free trolley that stops at the front entrance and brings you around the city.





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