Discover The Beauty Of Monterey, CA
Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa
As I grew up in California, some of my fondest memories were the trips I took with my father up Highway 1 to Monterey. For many sections highway 1 runs right along the coast, with the ocean on one side and in some cases cliffs on the other. I would often sit transfixed to the window watching the ocean for signs of whales, dolphins, surfers, boats and more. Even just the changes in the blue of the ocean or the way the fog would suddenly appear over the crest of a hill obscuring the rocks gave an other worldly feel.
Even as a kid every trip to Cannery Row felt like it was the first. As an adult, I had the pleasure of introducing my very Midwestern husband to Monterey. We only had a few days in November to spend in California and Monterey was the first place I wanted to take him. Living on Lake Michigan we had a 16-year debate about the fact that Lake Michigan does not, in fact, have “waves”. I looked forward to having him hear the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, smelling the salt of the ocean, seeing the seals playing in the kelp, and watching the pelicans dive into the water.
Years later we were able to take our three children to Monterey and share the experience with them. These were some of the best and most memorable places for my husband, my children and myself.
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
We checked into the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa without any reservations. Of course walking in during an off month allowed us some privileges. We were able to walk in and receive a great rate. Being that I have been landlocked for the last 20 years, I was excited to go to sleep that night with the sound of the ocean in the background so we took an ocean view room.
Stepping out on the balcony the first time can be a bit off putting as they are built directly over the water. You have to peer over the sides of the balcony to see the waves lapping the shores. Sitting on your balcony you have the perfect vantage point to view all the ocean life that is quite literally right out your door.
The room is very comfortable with 400 square feet, clean and well decorated. Unfortunately, my husband has lived in the Midwest his whole life, and he had never been exposed to prices in a tourist town in California. However, for Monterey and the level of luxury you receive at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa the prices are reasonable. The room comes with Biedermeier-style furniture, custom crown molding, carpets drapes, and artwork. The bathroom was large and clean. Each room also has wired internet, WIFI, and the customary hair dryer, iron, ironing board, coffee maker, telephones, personal computer/fax data port, air conditioning, LCD flat TV, and complimentary daily newspaper. Each room also has microfibre spa robes which felt amazing.
The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa has numerous different room options for guests to chose from. For obvious reasons, I suggest the ocean view room with a balcony on a top floor away from any events that may be occurring in the halls down below.
When it comes to booking a hotel room, I will overlook many things in exchange for a ridiculously comfortable bed. However, a huge luxurious room cannot make up for an incredibly rock hard and uncomfortable bed. This was not one of those cases. The bed was a down feather bed and was lovely. The hotel comes in and does a nightly turn down service which gives the hotel a personal boutique feeling.
Usually, when you travel you find a hotel that is staffed with pleasant people from check in to check out. Rarely, however you find a hotel that has a staff that is a treat to deal with in every way. The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa staff was indeed a treat. Any request we had they filled and they did it with a genuine smile. When we called for extra towels you didn’t feel like you were a bother. They made you feel like you were a valued guest.
When we went back to Monterey years later with our children, we decided to go back to the Monterey Plaza Hotel. The staff was nice enough to let us know that we could get rooms that connected. It allowed our teenage daughters to have their own room and we could have ours, which was nice after a day together. It is rare to find modern hotels that still offer that feature.
There are several dining options at the hotel. We dined at the Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar. The food was excellent, and the service was equally as excellent. As one might expect from a coastal town, the seafood was fresh, and they are committed to sustainable seafood. I would like to say we tried room service, but we didn’t. With my husband being such a fan of seafood, it was too tempting to have him try as many different restaurants as possible.
The real star of the hotel in my eyes is the balconies overlooking the oceans, the beds, and the hospitable staff who go above and beyond for their guests.
Places to Visit In Monterey
One cannot go to Monterey without visiting a few key places. Of course as with any city there is the obligatory tourist shops but within those are the gems.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The aquarium is a must see. Even if you have been there before they are constantly evolving their exhibits so you are always sure to see something new. This is also one of the few aquariums in the world to do several things like holding the ocean sunfish in captivity, and to exhibit the bluefin and yellowfin tuna.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop
I loved this shop. It had some of the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my entire life. I know the shop isn’t a Monterey specific shop but still I loved just sitting there by the ocean sipping that hot chocolate.
Monterey Mirror Maze and Lazer Challenge
Not attempted by my husband or myself but years later when we took our three children back to Monterey both our daughters went through the Mirror Maze and Lazer Challenge. They had a blast trying to out do each other on the Lazer Challenge. The Lazer Challenge is basically where a person tries to get from point A to point B without triggering the web of lasers blocking their path. What is especially cool about the Lazer Challenge is that the person with the best time each month gets a cool prize. I believe the prize the month we went was an MP3 player. Our daughters did not win, but they had a blast.
Granted this is a place you don’t want to take the kids and is probably a place that many can’t afford to buy much from, but the work is exquisite. If you only just peak in the window to look at the beauty of the work, it is worth it. The artistry is magnificent.
A Taste of Monterey Wine Market & Bistro
I am not a wine enthusiast. However, my husband is, and he wasn’t going to leave California without enjoying California wine. We stopped into A Taste of Monterey. The view was beautiful, but the service was what got our attention. When we walked in my husband was already picking out which wines he wanted to try. The lady who helped us listened very closely to what I didn’t like about wine and then had me try California made Rieslings. I was very surprised to find I enjoyed them. We ended up buying a few bottles to bring home. I recommend visiting them because of their vast knowledge and the fact that they promote local wines and wineries.
Monterey is a treat to visit and everyone should go there at least once in their life. I hope this little guide helps you find your gems in your trip.
Locations of resorts near Monterey, CA, USA
Best Western Monterey Beach Hotel Monterey CA, USA
Best Western Beach Resort Monterey offers oceanfront views and direct access to the beach. This luxurious hotel offers 196 newly appointed rooms and is the only hotel located directly on Del Monte Beach!
Cypress Gardens Resort Inn Monterey CA, USA
Built on the site of a former tree nursery, the Cypress Gardens Resort Inn sits under the Ancient Oaks and Classic Monterey Cypress Trees. The hotel fronts a 35-acre nature park and trails which complements …
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts – Hyatt Regency Monterey Monterey CA, USA
The Hyatt Regency Monterey is located on 22 lush acres adjacent to Pebble Beach Company’s historic Del Monte Golf Course. The resort recently renovated all 575-guest rooms with features like the new luxurious …
Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa Monterey CA, USA