What are the best places for outdoor fun in Monterey, Carmel, & Big Sur?

Artists, celebrities and everyone in between are drawn to California’s Central Coast for its good mix of urban and rural. Make sure to visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, sun at Carmel beaches, check out Point Lobos State Reserve and drive 17 miles from Carmel to Monterey — the views are remarkable. Here are a few of our favorite places to go for outdoor fun:

1. Big Sur is known for its untouched beauty. See it at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which is full of trees, cliffs and an 80-foot waterfall. You can also see whales from the Overlook Trail.

2. Carmel beaches — namely Carmel City and Ocean Street Beach — are the most photographed in the region. Come see the picture-perfect sandy shores and surfer-friendly waters at these popular beaches.

3. Point Lobos State Reserve is one of the best parks in the state. You can see seals, sea otters, whales and dolphins in the water, and gray foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and deer on land.

4. The 17-mile trek from Carmel to Monterey is hailed as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. You’ll go past Pebble Beach and a number of other lovely spots.

  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    When is the best time to visit Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur?

    Really, any time is a good time to visit spring-like Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur. But unlike Southern California, the central coast doesn’t have picture-perfect weather all year long. Spring will deliver the best weather, with sunny skies, but fall sees the warmer temperatures. The rain usually comes in the late fall and early winter. Summers have cooler, windy weather, and the fog hangs over the city in the mornings. The weather can change drastically, so whichever season you decide to visit, be sure to pack layers.
  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which restaurants have the best wine offerings in Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur?

    Wine country restaurants abound in California, and the central coast is no exception. We suggest you make reservations at Casanova, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Marinus and Sierra Mar if you’re looking to unwind with a glass of quality vino in hand.

    1. Casanova. It's one of Carmel’s first European-type bistros. The restaurant’s hand-dug wine cellar contains a staggering 30,000 bottles.

    2. Marinus. Located on a winery, the Four-Star restaurant Marinus can’t help but offer a great selection of wine. Try the Marinus Estate Bordeaux-style red, the winery’s specialty.

    3. Sierra Mar. The Four-Star restaurant has one of the most comprehensive wine cellars in North America, with both well-known producers and hard-to-find selections represented on the list.
  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which hotels in Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur have the best views?

    From Carmel to Santa Cruz, the central coast of California offers sandy beaches, charming towns and one of the best marine environments — Monterey Bay. This means, of course, beach hotels with stunning views are the norm. Bernardus Lodge, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, and Post Ranch Inn offer especially wonderful ocean-side views.

    1. Bernardus Lodge. Part of a winemaking estate, Bernardus Lodge is tucked in Carmel Valley and provides fabulous views of the mountains, countryside and vineyards.

    2. The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Sitting on the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Lodge at Pebble Beach offers views of the course. But you’ll also see the ocean and Del Monte Forest from your room.

    3. Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Guest rooms at this luxuriously appointed, European-style hotel give guests the impression of being on a ship with an ocean-view balcony.

    4. Post Ranch Inn. The rooms at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Post Ranch Inn are like tricked-out tree houses overlooking Big Sur’s striking coast. Revel in vistas of the Pacific Ocean from your floor-to-ceiling windows or out on the deck.
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  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which restaurants have the best wine offerings in Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur?

    Wine country restaurants abound in California, and the central coast is no exception. We suggest you make reservations at Casanova, Four-Star Marinus and Sierra Mar if you’re looking to unwind with a glass of quality vino in hand.

    1. Casanova is one of Carmel’s first European-type bistros. The restaurant’s hand-dug wine cellar contains a staggering 30,000 bottles.

    2. Located on a winery, the Four-Star restaurant Marinus can’t help but offer a great selection of wine. Try the Marinus Estate bordeaux-style red, the winery’s specialty.

    3. The Four-Star restaurant Sierra Mar has one of the most comprehensive wine cellars in North America, with both well-known producers and hard-to-find selections represented on the list.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which hotels in Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur have the best views?

    From Carmel to Santa Cruz, the central coast of California offers sandy beaches, charming towns and one of the best marine environments—Monterey Bay. This means, of course, beach hotels with stunning views are the norm. Bernardus Lodge, the Lodge at Pebble Beach, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, and Post Ranch Inn offer especially wonderful ocean-side views.

    1. Part of a winemaking estate, Bernardus Lodge is tucked in Carmel Valley and provides fabulous views of the mountains, countryside and vineyards.

    2. Sitting on the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Lodge at Pebble Beach offers views of the course. But you’ll also see the ocean and Del Monte Forest from your room.

    3. Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Guestrooms at this luxuriously appointed, European-style hotel give guests the impression of being on a ship with an ocean-view balcony.

    4. The rooms at the Four-Star Post Ranch Inn are like tricked-out tree houses overlooking Big Sur’s striking coast. Revel in vistas of the Pacific Ocean from your floor-to-ceiling windows or out on the deck.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    When is the best time to visit Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur?

    Really, any time is a good time to visit spring-like Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur. But unlike Southern California, the central coast doesn’t have picture-perfect weather all year long. Spring will deliver the best weather, with sunny skies, but fall sees the warmer temperatures. The rain usually comes in the late fall and early winter. Summers have cooler, windy weather, and the fog hangs over the city in the mornings. The weather can change drastically, so whichever season you decide to visit, be sure to pack layers.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places for outdoor fun in Monterey, Carmel, & Big Sur?

    Artists, celebrities and everyone in between are drawn to California’s Central Coast for its good mix of urban and rural. Make sure to visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, sun at Carmel beaches, check out Point Lobos State Reserve and drive 17 miles from Carmel to Monterey — the views are remarkable. Here are a few of our favorite places to go for outdoor fun:

    1. Big Sur is known for its untouched beauty. See it at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which is full of trees, cliffs and an 80-foot waterfall. You can also see whales from the Overlook Trail.

    2. Carmel beaches — namely Carmel City and Ocean Street Beach — are the most photographed in the region. Come see the picture-perfect sandy shores and surfer-friendly waters at these popular beaches.

    3. Point Lobos State Reserve is one of the best parks in the state. You can see seals, sea otters, whales and dolphins in the water, and gray foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and deer on land.

    4. The 17-mile trek from Carmel to Monterey is hailed as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. You’ll go past Pebble Beach and a number of other lovely spots.