Wednesday, February 2, 2011

HERITAGE TOUR DESTINATION: MONTEREY, CARMEL and SALINAS, CALIFORNIA - Review: 5 stars

Monterey, Carmel and Salinas, California -- generally referred to collectively as the "Monterey Bay area" -- are favourite Central California destinations for Snobby Tours®' heritage and cultural tours. Each has a different history and ambiance.   Our Review: 5-stars!


Monterey at one time was the original Spanish capital of  "Old California".  Long before Salinas-born Pulitzer Prize winning author John Steinbeck immortalized Monterey's Cannery Row, beautiful Monterey Bay was claimed for Spain by a Portuguese navigator in 1542.  It was colonized by missionaries, soldiers and mercenaries, as well as Russians, Mexicans and Americans at different points in time.


Sea creatures in Monterey Bay Aquarium
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Over the years, some of the most historic Old California buildings were constructed, including Mission San Carlos, the Presidio and California's first theatre.  Monterey has also provided inspiration for writers such as Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson.  


Today, visitors flock to Monterey to experience its heritage and culture, shopping and fine dining -- and especially to visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.


Carmel, less than four miles south of Monterey, is known as an "artists' haven". Situated along some of California's most picturesque coastline, the word which most describes Carmel is "quaint".  It is filled with unique shops and art galleries featuring the work of many local artists, cobblestone courtyards, great restaurants for California cuisine, and cute B&Bs. The scent of wood-burning fireplaces waifs thru the air all year round because the fog generally rolls in and temperatures drop as the sun sets each day.  Even Summers are relatively cool, requiring layered clothing.


Carmel Winter Sunset
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Practically everything is within walking distance in Carmel -- or within a short drive if one wants to to visit nearby wineries or Mission Carmel.  The internationally famous Pebble Beach golf course along the scenic "17-mile Drive" attracts golf enthusiasts from all over the world for informal games and competitive  tournaments.


And, on any given day, both locals and visitors flock to the rocky  beach at the foot of Ocean Avenue to photograph the famous Carmel sunset -- spectacular all year round.


Carmel is very "pet-friendly".  The movie icon Doris Day has lived in Carmel for years, and thru her efforts, lodging, retail shops, and even some restaurants have become receptive to pets -- especially dogs -- accompanying their owners. 


Salinas -- about 30-minutes drive east from Carmel -- is part of the Salinas Valley - famous for its production of fruit and vegetables.  It was immortalized in John Steinbeck's "East of Eden".  Steinbeck's childhood home, a restored Queen Anne-style Victorian which can be toured, is near Downtown Salinas.  


"Doc's Lab" in Steinbeck Institute
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In recent years, with the opening of the Steinbeck Institute, new life has been infused into Salinas. The Steinbeck Institute is a "must see" when visiting Salinas.  It is a living history museum of Steinbeck's books where visitors can stroll from room to room hearing excerpts from books, viewing archival films, and getting close to the Trask 1920's motorcar ("East of Eden"), the Joad house ("Grapes of Wrath"), Doc's Lab ("Cannery Row"), and even the Gypsy wagon which Steinbeck took on a trip along with his poodle ("Travels with Charley").


Any time of the year is the right time to visit Monterey, Carmel and Salinas because seasonal and annual heritage and cultural events are abundant -- from evening art walks thru the galleries sampling local wines to antique car shows. Just remember to bring a jacket, even in July.

2 comments:

  1. My family and I did this road trip last fall and it was just a fantastic trip. Reading your blog and pics brought back the great memories!

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  2. Hi, Lisa! Traveling Hwy 1 along the California Coast is definitely a thrill. There's something for every member of the family or group. So much to see, do and photograph! Thank you for your comments. We are also following your blog at http://lttravelinc.blogstpot.com

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