Last year, some of our darling friends gave us the gift of a stay at this gorgeous hotel in Monterey, a city just a couple of hours away from us on the California coast. We knew for sure we wanted to take the trip by ourselves and not bring the kiddos along, and I kid you not when I say it took over a year to find the right time to do that. Not that we’re particularly squeamish about leaving the kids behind, but it just seems like it’s been a tumultuous year, with lots of family illnesses and travel and all kinds of mayhem. But I’m glad to say that we finally figured it out and had some amazing kidless adventures! Check out our trip and our travel tips for 36 hours in Monterey.
First of all, let me just say that I feel like it’s SO IMPORTANT to leave the kids behind and go on adventures as just a couple again. It feels so light all of a sudden, and you find these glimpses of who you used to be and figure out how it ties in to who you are now. And you remember that you’re just a normal person and not somebody’s chef/maid/sherpa/chauffeur/entertainer. Whenever we leave the kiddos (even for just a couple of hours) I come back refreshed.
Before kids, Ryan and I used to bike everywhere. I mean everywhere. When we stayed for a month in Paris, we took zero cabs and maybe 5 rides on the metro. Otherwise, we biked. I can’t wait for the time when the kids can finally bike alongside us. But! For this kidless trip, the very first thing we did was grab a pair of bikes for the day and hit the road. We were staying at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, which will give you free bikes for the day. If you’re not staying there, just go to Adventures By the Sea. You can rent bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, and more. If you’re there with a family you can also rent tandem bikes, bike trailers, and all kinds of family friendly stuff. I recommend hopping on the bike trail that goes from Fisherman’s Wharf to Lover’s Point just to get the lay of the land. Then if you’re comfortable (and ready for a few hills), venture off into the residential or downtown areas to see some beautiful houses and cute shops.
Also, speaking of the Monterey Plaza Hotel, you’ve got to try to stay there at least once in your life! Try for an ocean view room. It’s spectacular. We saw families of otters hanging out in the kelp forest, sea lions, seals, and pods of dolphins. Use the spa on the top floor; there are dual hot tubs looking over the bay, and an outdoor fireplace where you can just sit and relax.
Let’s talk food! We had a few favorites. For lunch, grab a panini at Cafe Ariana in Pacific Grove. Tricycle Pizza is perfect for lunch or dinner, and we were saying how amazing it would have been with the kids. Fast, easy, delicious, and they have a little pretend pizza oven that the kids can play with while you wait for your food. A note about this place: there’s no alcohol served and you’re not allowed to BYOB. For brunch, head to Crema. Get anything that involves their french fries (because OMG) or the house-made biscuits. If you’re into key lime pie, don’t miss the mini ones at The Perfect Crumb Bakery.
For things to do, I’m pretty easy in Monterey! I like to wander the beaches, climb on the rocks, look for ocean life, and kind of just chill out. A great place to do that is 17 Mile Drive. Hop out at any of the lookout points or beaches and just wander. If you haven’t ever been or you’re cheesy like me and like that sort of thing, you should also walk Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row to soak in those old school Monterey vibes. And we didn’t go this trip, but the aquarium is world-renowned and one of my favorite places to take the kids (when it’s not too crowded).
So that’s it! We took a million photos of each other and of the water and came back with sand in our toes. Can’t beat that. Have you ever been to Monterey? What are your favorite spots there? xo