Located on the cusp of Monterey Bay, Sand City is what it says on the tin, making it an incredible coastal getaway. Sand City is home to the largest sand dunes on California’s central coast. It is an ideal destination for those wanting sand, salt air and seaside action. Relax on the beach under an umbrella or take flight under the vibrant colors of a skydiving parachute. This area is a draw for artists and coffeehouse cool with a laid back vibe.
With just a two-hour drive, Sand City is well within reach of San Francisco. Make it fast or make it slow. The US-101 S and follow signs to San Jose. Keep right and roll til exit 336 points you toward the Monterey Peninsula. Merge on to CA-156 West for 5 miles and then on to CA-1 S. Take exit 403 for CA-218 toward Seaside. An turn right onto Canyon Del Rey Boulevard brings you to the heart of Sand City, with its sand dunes, restaurants, hotels, and laundry list of must-dos.
Embassy Suites Monterey Bay - Seaside stands tall in its architecture and its amenities. The hotel offers all the comforts of home and more, with seaside views, an on-site restaurant, made-to-order breakfasts, an indoor swimming pool and only a six-minute walk to the beach.
Monterey Tides is beach-side, and while it's address is in Monterey, it is next door to Sand City and gives you the water's edge. Watch, listen and taste the salty breezes from your room. Look across the bend of the bay to see the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, less than four miles away, with the galleries, restaurants and shops of downtown and Cannery Row between.
Sand Castle Inn shows its more old-school motel charm on the outside, while providing the modern touches and comforts you'd expect when snuggled up in your room for the night. It's a great budget option that, while being off the sea, still gives you amazing proximity to the area. Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-Mile Drive, world-class golf courses, Cannery Row ... and so much more is within a few miles of the Sand Castle Inn.
Monterey's Fish House is a small, converted house on Del Monte Ave near the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey. The food and friendly staff get rave reviews, and the prices are on-point for the fresh seafood and quality menue.
The Breakfast Club in Seaside, contrary to its name, slings tasty meals and bang-for-your-buck all day long. Portions are known to be more than enough at prices you can swallow. It's classic American style eats with notably friendly service.
Gusto Handcrafted Pasta And Pizza slays it on Yelp, and for great reason. It's handmade eats are some of those details you hope to find on a getaway, and will be part of what draws you back. Taste the squash ravioli or beet salad, the short ribs or, of course, the legit Italian pies. The attentive service also gets raves along with the the culinary art at Gusto.
At the north end of Cannery Row, you will find the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is a huge hit for marine biologists, locals and tourists alike. With more than 600 marine species held on the site of the former sardine cannery, the aquarium attracts many of visitors each year. It has been home to great white sharks and is also one of the few aquariums to exhibit both yellowfin and bluefin tuna.
Seventeen-Mile Drive is one of the most luxurious and scenic drives anywhere, with world-class golf clubs sprawling on both sides of the road. Enviable homes perched just above the sea line the driive, as well, with unobstructed views of the rocky shoreline and ocean that makes it a many-million dollar stretch of coast.
Cannery Row was once described by Steinbeck as “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” Since the days of Steinbeck, however, Cannery Row has transformed from a hub of corrugated fishing canneries to a Mecca for tourists looking to shop, sight see and visit this marine conservation area for the largest population of sea lions.
This world-famous raceway is worth the visit, whether for a scheduled event or just to take in this slice of racing history. If you're a cyclist, there are monthly twilight rides for all ages to experience pedaling Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 11-turn, 2.238-mile course.
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.