Honeymoon Recap: Monterey, California
Planning a honeymoon? Keep reading! My husband and I recently (finally) went on our honeymoon (only one year after we got married, not late or anything!) and I'm so excited to finally share our adventures with you!
We had talked at lengths about visiting California for the last two years, so when we saw an opening in our schedules that overlapped, we jumped! It was the perfect way to finish off my absolutely amazing and jam-packed first wedding season, and while our trip was busy and packed too, I came home feeling so relaxed, revitalized and inspired to take on the next year and make it bigger and better than my last!
Our original plan was to fly into San Francisco and spend our first night in Napa to take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards early the next morning. Unfortunately, our trip coincided with the absolutely devastating wildfires in the region so we didn't end up going north. Instead, we spent our fight night in San Francisco and explored the bustling city the next day! My husband worked tirelessly in the weeks leading up to our trip to make sure we had a long list of attractions to visit so we were never twiddling our thumbs. As a 90's baby, of course we had to visit Alamo Square which was featured in the Full House intro and the iconic Painted Ladies houses. The park was pretty packed and the air was smokey due to the fires, but it was still so cool to see! You've never driven on hills until you've driven in San Francisco!
Our next stop was Mr. Holme's Bakehouse for some to-die-for cookies and cruffins, and then we were off to the Golden Gate Bridge!
After a day packed with walking and being tourists, we were pretty wiped so we decided to head down the coast to our Airbnb in Monterey! We chose Monterey because it was close to Carmel and Big Sur, where we knew we'd be spending most of our time, but accommodations were a bit less tourist-y. If you've never stayed in an Airbnb before, what are you waiting for? It's a great way to travel! I love that it's often more affordable than a hotel, but you can usually find a rental with a kitchen so you aren't forced to eat out for every single meal. I tend to gravitate towards cottages or full apartment or house rentals, but if you're on a tight budget you can find private rooms as well.
Our Airbnb was the cosiest little stone guest house tucked in behind the garden of a private home. The cottage had its own garden full of succulents and lavender and it truly felt like it was written right from a fairy tale! We woke up most mornings to find deer on the front lawn.... I kept waiting for birds to come dress me but it never happened. Nevertheless, I seriously felt like a Disney princess.
We were just a few short minutes from Carmel so promptly after checking into our cottage, we went straight to Carmel for the first of our many Carmel Beach sunsets. While the sunset was beautiful, I was more than a little distracted by all of the dogs. It seems like everyone in a 50-mile radius brings their dog there for a run every night, and I was in HEAVEN! Let's just say my photo album from the trip has more dog pictures than scenery ones.
Carmel is the cutest little town that actually reminds me a lot of Charlottetown. It's loaded with adorable historic buildings, cute little boutiques and restaurants, tourists and super friendly locals!
The next day, we started with breakfast at the Carmel Bakery (best croissants!!!) and then we were off for a drive down the coast to Big Sur. It was a really cloudy day so we ended up just getting the lay of the land and went back to Carmel in the afternoon and spent some time walking around, shopping, snacking and enjoying the scenery!
We visited a few amazing restaurants and each was better than the last! Notable were Little Napoli, Terry's Lounge (in Cypress Inn), Louie Linguini's (Monterey Cannery Row), and of course The Bench at Pebble Beach. I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite! At Terry's Lounge, we dined in an outdoor courtyard with dogs at almost every table around us, Louie Linguini's looked over the Monterey waterfront, and our table at The Bench was outside overlooking the stunning golf course, with a fire pit and delicious food and drinks.
On our way to The Bench, we took in the scenic 17-mile drive, and while we had already spent a lot of time exploring Carmel by the time we got there, we still felt like it was more than worth the drive! Pro-tip: it's $10 to enter but if you eat at one of the Pebble Beach restaurants, they credit the entry fee on your bill!
My favourite hike was through Point Lobos State Natural Reserve where we probably could have spent the entire day if we wanted! We really didn't know what to expect going into it, but we ended up with a long beautiful hike through many different types of scenery! We parked at Whaler's Cove and hiked the entire loop back to the car, then had a little picnic at the cove before we left for Monterey! If you enjoy hiking, fresh air, or nature in the least, I absolutely think Point Lobos is not to be missed. It's broken up into a bunch of different smaller hikes with lots of parking areas, for those less experienced hikers or those short on time.
Other notable amazing stops on the drive down the coast were McWay Falls (just the tiniest of hikes and well worth the view), Bixby Bridge & Rocky Creek Bridge, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Nepenthe (restaurant but we were there before it opened, so we just took in the views!), Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, Ewoldsen Trail, and pretty much every vista point on the way down the coast!
After a couple days of exploring Big Sur, we wanted to spend some time on the water, and decided to go whale watching. We consulted Trip Advisor and decided to go with Discovery Whale Watch, and they did not disappoint! I have been whale watching before and didn't expect much, maybe some tails or breaching off in the distance, but what we experienced was far above and beyond. It seemed everywhere we looked were whales! At one point, we had two humpback whales underneath (and bumping!) the boat, and then one feeding on each side within touching distance! It was complete insanity and definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I can't thank the Discovery team enough for our amazing adventure!
We had lots of fun out on the water in Monterey, as well as exploring the boardwalk and watching the seals, sea lions and otters in and around the marina.
Our next stop was Cannery Row for a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, some keepsake shopping and our meal overlooking the water at Louie Linguini's. Our favourite part of the aquarium was by far the otters and penguins! The jelly fish tanks were also super cool because there were hundreds of them!
On our last day, we flew out late but needed to drive to San Francisco, so we decided to do some shopping along the way. Our first stop was the Del Monte Shopping Center which is a large open-air mall that was perfect for the hot day we were experiencing. We checked out a few of our favourite stores there, and then hit the road for Stanford for the Stanford Shopping Center which was another large open-air mall (sense a theme here?!) Stanford was probably one of my favourite malls I've been to, of which there have been many! It was clean with lots of places to sit and cool down, and above all else, the shopping was amazing!
When we finished at Stanford we made the drive to the San Francisco airport, dropped off our rental car and made our way home, but not before having a couple of celebratory drinks at an airport restaurant!
All in all, it was an amazing trip filled with happy memories and I can't wait to go back. California will forever hold a special place in our hearts, and we're already planning our return. Do yourself a favour and put it on your bucket list - you won't regret it!
Until next time,