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Trip Report Monterey & Carmel Weekend at Big Sur Marathon

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Just thought I'd post our trip report from this past weekend at the Big Sur Marathon. My husband ran the marathon, and I was there as his athletic supporter! And was happy to get a fantastic trip to this part of California as part of the deal. I always refer to these forums for advice, so I thought that I would post our experiences as help to anyone else traveling to this gorgeous area!

We arrived on Thursday, and checked in at the Monterey Marriott, as it was one of the host hotels for the race. Nice hotel, great staff. The car valets and doormen were exceptionally friendly and helpful.

Must see: The Point Lobos State Reserve.
We headed over there right after checking in at the hotel. To say that it was breathtaking is to put it mildly. I probably could have spent all day there--one of my favorite parts of the trip. We spent a couple of hours, and it was time to head back for dinner and we promised each other that we would come back to explore more, and unfortunately never got the chance. I would certainly head back there again next time we visit. Coming there with some wine and cheese would have been really fun.

Must see: Ocean View Blvd in Pacific Grove. At this time of year (we went in late April), it is covered in these gorgeous purple flowers. Just google images of Pacific Grove, and you will see spectacular images of these purple flowers along the coastline. It was absolutely beautiful.

Must see: Scenic drive down Route 1. Forget about that 17-mile drive. This drive is free and spectacular. Just drive south from Carmel down Route 1 toward the Bixby Creek Bridge (about 13 miles). We drove it to trace out the Big Sur marathon route for my husband and had to keep pulling off to take photos! Just breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast on that route. Google Bixby Bridge photos to see what i mean!

Must see: Carmel By The Sea. This town is so much fun to explore and walk around. Lots of little art galleries, shops, etc. Extremely picturesque and enjoyable.

Restaurants:
Montrio in Monterey--delicious and only a block from our hotel. It was really nice, and great menu. Definitely recommend this place.
http://www.montrio.com

1833 in Monterey--really pretty atmosphere. It's like a bunch of rooms in an old house, but all just so cozy. It was really hopping in there. The menu was a little tough for me because I don't eat red meat. I ended up ordering branzino, but I didn't really like it, so i switched meals with my husband, who had ordered the chicken (which was delicious). However, it was still a really lovely evening, and I'd still recommend it.
http://www.restaurant1833.com

Casanova in Carmel--one of the prettiest restaurants! It looks like an old French country home inside there, again with lots of small dining rooms. Some semi-outdoor dining actually inside the restaurant. Food is fabulous! Don't miss ordering the spinach gnocchi--it's their specialty and is delicious!
http://www.casanovarestaurant.com

La Bicyclette in Carmel--we went here for lunch. They have this fabulous wood-burning oven. Their flatbreads/pizzas are absolutely to die for. We ordered a butternut squash, sage, and gruyere pizza that was amazing, and our friends ordered a pancetta and prawn pizza that was fantastic as well. Very adorable atmosphere.
http://www.labicycletterestaurant.com

Parker Lusseau Pastries in Monterey--we came here every day for a very carb- and calorie-laden breakfast. We visited two locations (they have multiple locations in Monterey)--one on Munras Ave, and one on Hartnell St. The Hartnell location is much cuter, but we met the French owner at the Munras location, and he was really fun to talk to. Absolutely fantastic croissants (get the almond), strawberry rhubarb tarts, macaron, you name it. It was all delicious!
http://www.parker-lusseaupastries.com

The Cheese Shop in Carmel--this was a stop on a food tour of Carmel that we went on. They are so friendly and funny in there, and love giving out samples of all their cheeses. Great place to grab a delicious sourdough baguette, cheese, and wine (they sell it all there), and relax at the beach! We bought a bunch of cheese to take home with us. This is in a shopping plaza at the top end of Ocean Avenue in Carmel.

What we didn't do: The Cannery, The Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf, etc. If I had brought our kids, we would have gone to the Aquarium i guess, but all this stuff looked so tacky and touristy, I just wanted to stay away from it all!

After the marathon, we ate lunch in Carmel, and headed back an airport hotel to stay overnight in Burlingame, so we could catch an early flight back home without waking up at 3 am. We ate dinner at Stella Alpina Osteria and both got the pasta purses stuffed with pears & asiago cheese. It was great, and i would recommend this place to anyone staying around Burlingame.

Anyway, my husband loved the marathon, and even might want to do it again next year, just because we had such a fun time out there! Hope this trip report helps someone else as much as you all helped us!

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