For an escape to the country with all the perks, where you can relax and unwind, Marina is the ideal destination. You may never want to return to the hustle and bustle of San Francisco after experiencing the calm off the path in Monterey County.
The road to Marina from San Francisco is a relatively quick one by car. The slide down US-101 takes less than two hours. If spending time at your destination is more important, then take 101 to CA-156 W in Prunedale. Take exit 336 and run CA-156 W until just past Castroville, where you connect with CA-1 S.
If you're up for the slow ride that will carry you along the waves and coast, take I-280 to Daly City and ride CA-1 all the way down to Marina. Stop in Santa Cruz for some surf and tacos or cruise on around the bay to Marina. Driving straight through still only takes 2 hours, 30 minutes and comes with a seaside view the whole way down.
Sanctuary Beach Resort is only a three-minute (or less) stroll from the beach. This oceanfront hotel in Marina serves up Pacific Ocean views and, in its Salt Wood restaurant, fresh seafood from central California. There also is a full-service spa on-site and rooms with fireplaces for keeping cozy on those cool central Cali nights.
This HoJo is located only 1.7 miles from Marina Beach and offers free on-site parking. It's only 15 to 20 minutes from Monterey Bay Aquarium, the famed 17-Mile Drive and historic Cannery Row. All rooms include free Wi-Fi and come with a complimentary continental breakfast.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Marina is a six-minute walk to sands between your toes and waves beneath your board. It's a spot just off US-1. It comes with amenities you expect: WiFi, in-room refrigerator and coffee maker, fitness room access and breakfast.
Of the dozens of restaurant options in Marina, the Noodle Bar always serves up big bang for your budget. A Vietnamese restaurant with some Chinese options on the menu, this is a local's spot for pho.
For fresh seafood, Frutti de Mar gets the thumbs up. The crab ravioli and lasagna is a crowd favorite. Frutti de Mar also wins with its vegetarian dishes.
For a great and inexpensive lunch spot, try Coffee Mia. This place is always packed with locals, getting their morning coffee fix or relaxing with friends, watching the day go by. You can also order the food to go if you are just in need of some picnic items to take to the beach. The breakfast burritos also grab attention.
Marina State Beach is a lovely place to spend the day. It feels untouched, peaceful, and like you have a slice of the bay to yourself. Maybe you will get lucky and spot dolphins riding past in the waves. If sitting and watching isn't your style, you can jump into surfing or hang gliding. The colorful canopies of para gliders also paint the sky.
There is no higher rush in Monterey Bay than jumping from a perfectly solid airplane at 16,000 feet above the farmland and coast. Never plunged into the big blue yonder before? No worries. Take the tandem leap with a more than qualified instructor. Get a video and photos to save the memories.
Urban Wine Row in Marina is the Saturday afternoon spot to enjoy the fruits of the vine with a sip and some socializing. Plan on a late-afternoon outing to Urban Wine Row to unwind from the day's action, and you can turn it into a warm-up for the evening.
In the Monterey Bay area, you're in the heart of world-class golf links, places of legend and lore. Nearby Pebble Beach gets a lot of the love (well deserved, of course), but the Bayonet Black Horse Golf Club welcomes you with coastal breezes and views you'll never forget.
Fort Ord holds a special place in military history, and though it closed that chapter many years ago, the dunes and waves that kept the fort and its soldiers fresh and happy still roll on. Hike over the dunes and you get a view and experience with the beach and water that is secluded from the life that passes nearby.