Friday, December 28, 2018

Explore Monterey County

Outdoor adventures. Diverse dining. Rich cultural history. Monterey County is home to all of these unforgettable experiences — and you can discover these in the towns of Marina, Salinas and Seaside along California's Central Coast. Though these three towns occasionally stand in the shadow of their more popular neighbors like Carmel, Monterey and Big Sur, they're still can't-miss hubs for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies and history buffs alike. Explore these undiscovered gems for a unique experience you'll remember for years to come.

Marina: The Height of Beachside Tranquility

Do you enjoy a nice day (... or two or three) on the beach? Then you must visit Marina, located right on the water in Monterey County. Marina State Beach offers plenty of great waves for avid surfers, as well as sand dunes that provide a home for all sorts of exotic birds and animals. The well-marked Dune Nature Trail gives you a full rundown of the creatures located among the dunes, making this a truly unique beach experience.

And after a long day on the beach, Marina offers plenty of intriguing dining options. Head to English Ales Brewery for locally brewed beer paired with a comprehensive menu of pub grub. Or if you're looking to try one of Monterey County's newest and most buzzed-about restaurants, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette offers delicious raw, cured or wood-fired takes on your favorite dishes.

Salinas: A Unique Combination of Culture and Agriculture

Salinas isn't just the home of Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck. It's also a notable agricultural hub, lovingly called "America's Salad Bowl" as a nod to the many crops grown in the Salinas Valley. You can learn more about the farming techniques being put to work in Salinas at Ag Venture Tours, which gives you a full sensory experience of the many greens grown in this region. But that's not the only sensory experience in the area. The River Road Wine Trail offers wine lovers the chance to trek along River Road and visit nearly a dozen award-winning wineries.

After exploring all that grows in Salinas, learn more about the favorite son of Salinas, John Steinbeck, at the National Steinbeck Center. Full of interactive exhibits and fascinating artifacts from his life, this museum gives you a personal, one-of-a-kind look at the life of a great American. Then, if you are hungry for more, stop by The Steinbeck House to see his childhood home and enjoy a delicious lunch. Once you've had your fill of all things Steinbeck, get your fill of locally grown cuisine at 201 Main in Oldtown Salinas. With an extensive wine list and an eclectic menu of fresh food, 201 Main has something for everyone.

Seaside: Monterey's Coastal Neighbor

Located just to the north of Monterey, Seaside is sometimes overlooked by visitors who tend to head toward its more popular neighbor. In Seaside, you can fill your day with a diverse range of outdoor activities and delicious dining options. Seaside is home to Fort Ord National Monument, a beautiful stretch of rolling hills and over 83 miles of trails. It's a favorite for mountain bikers, but it's also perfect for a relaxing stroll.

For a full day of outdoor fun, hit the links at Bayonet and Black Horse, two challenging golf courses that offer stunning bay views. Ready for a relaxing meal after a day outdoors? Then get ready for a big authentic Italian meal at Gusto, some of the most delicious Italian food on the peninsula.

While in Seaside, make sure to explore recently revitalized Broadway Avenue. The downtown artery was updated with expanded sidewalks, newly planted trees and designated bike lanes. On Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the street plays host to a year-round certified farmers market with a bounty of local produce and products.

The fact that Monterey County's lesser-known towns are so packed with culture and activities proves something the locals know to be true: Monterey County has endless activities to explore and places to discover. It's a place to go on adventures, enjoy delicious food and learn about California history. Plan your trip and find out more today at

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