Recently a few of us from the Viator San Francisco team took a day-trip to Monterey, Carmel, and the 17-Mile Drive. Only 2 hours from the city, it makes for an easy day-trip; although it would also be a great area to stay for a couple days if you have the time.
We got started a little late, but once we were caffeinated and had our 90s playlist loaded, we hit the road! From San Francisco, you can either book Viator’s Monterey, Carmel and The 17-Mile Drive Day Trip then sit back and enjoy the beautiful coast along Highway 1, or make last-minute plans, grab a friend with a car, roll down the windows, and serenade everyone passing by with Backstreet Boys hits. I’ll let you guess what we did.
Our first stop was Monterey. The most popular sights here include Cannery Row (restaurants and shops housed in now-defunct sardine canneries), the highly-recommended Monterey Bay Aquarium (find 623 plant and animal species on display), the wharf, and the beach!
Starving, we first visited the highly-rated Old Fisherman’s Grotto on Fisherman’s Wharf. Here, we dined on fresh seafood while enjoying beautiful views of the blue water. The water was so blue–we couldn’t stop commenting on how pretty it was.
After a quick walk around the wharf and some photos on the beach, we found our way to the 17-Mile Drive.
The 17-Mile Drive begins in Monterey, winds its way around the coast, and ends in Carmel. If you take the highway, these two towns are only about 4 miles away from each other, but it is so worth it to spend the extra time here and pay the $9.50 entrance fee (which is included on the tour).
Besides amazing vistas of the Pacific Ocean, famous golf courses, and beautiful homes, there are over 20 highlighted sights and stops. Most notable are Pebble Beach and the Lone Cypress tree.
Our mini-trip ended with a break on Carmel Beach. Sitting by a bush, we hid from the wind, relaxed in the sun, and watched dozens of dogs run around and play in the water.
Here are some fun facts about Carmel:
- Clint Eastwood served as mayor for one term, from 1986 to 1988.
- Most houses aren’t numbered and instead have house names, such as Canary Cottage, Frivolous Frog, and Shell Manor. (See a map of Carmel house names here.)
Monterey and Carmel generally have similar weather to San Francisco (ie, chilly), and even though it may be sunny, the strong wind from the ocean can be pretty cold. Bring layers!
Don’t forget your camera–you’ll want to show off your amazing day to your friends!