Monterey, Carmel or Pacific Grove?

Old Sep 22nd, 2002, 06:16 AM
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Monterey, Carmel or Pacific Grove?

I will be making my first trip to the west coast next spring and would like to spend a couple of days in this area, but after looking through travel information and doing a search here, I am still a bit confused on what to expect. My understanding is that Monterey is more historic, Carmel more quaint and Pacific Grove more of a scenic,beach area. This being my first trip, I would kind of like a chance to maybe get to see Big Sur, Cannery Row and maybe do a little shopping in Carmel. Can this be done in a couple of days? Which would be in the best area to do this? I have checked out websites for the Highlands Inn in Carmel, Monterey Bay Inn and BW Beach Resort in Monterey? Would any of these be good choices? Any suggestions?
Old Sep 22nd, 2002, 08:45 AM
Tamara B
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Where do I begin. I was married in Pacific Grove and my son took his first steps at Lovers Point Park in PG. Carmel has our entire families heart and we will never pass up the chance to visit. All 3 cities are so close it really doesn't matter where you stay, but Carmel is so enchanting, with it's cobblestone streets and amazing art galleries and antique shops. You can stop in at any one of the small bakery/coffee shops and have a quick stroll down Ocean Avenue to the beach where you can see Pebble Beach Golf Course. The restaurants are amazing (try doing proggresive dinners. App. at one place, dinner at another, dessert someplace different)Then you are free to take the 17 mile drive-MUST SEE- from Carmel (for a small park fee) to PG which feeds directly to Montery.
PG can be combined in a single day with either Carmel or Monterey. Big Sur and Carmel day one and then PG and Monterey day two would work well.
As far as places to stay... it depends soley on the mood of your trip. Carmel is full of romantic little B & B's, but you pay more there than Monterey. Be warned not to stray to far off the beaten path past Monterey looking for a good deal. Salinas and Sea Side are not safe places to go and parts of Monterey can be a little seedy as well.
Your sure to have a really fabulous little getaway with the towns you chose.
Old Sep 22nd, 2002, 08:56 AM
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Carmel would most likely be you best bet. It's sort of in the middle of every thing you wish to see. However I would stay right in Carmel Village. One of the big pluses to me about Carmel is that you can walk pretty much any where from your hotel. I love not having to find a parking place before dinner. The Highlands Inn is beautiful but it's a little bit south of Carmel proper,on the way to Big Sur.
While there don't pass up a stroll at Carmel Beach or a hike thru Point Lobos.
Old Sep 22nd, 2002, 09:03 AM
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I would plan for a least 3 days to be able to appreciate the central coast from Monterey down to Big Sur. For more information on the Monterey Bay Area check out and For the most part, Pacific Grove tends to be less crowded than Monterey and Carmel, although Pacific Grove (PG) does have great coastal scnerary. Accomodations tend to be more reasonably priced in PG than in nearby Monterey and Carmel. In Monterey, some of the must sees include the Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf (, Cannery Row (, and 17 Mile Drive. Carmel is a very quaint town with small cafes, shops, and homes as well as cottages each with their own individual architecture.

South on Highway 1, Big Sur definitely is one of the most scenic parts of the California coast. If you have time, go about 65 miles south of Big Sur to San Simeon for a tour of Hearst Castle You should reserve tickets for the castle tours.
Old Sep 22nd, 2002, 09:34 PM
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If you like shopping like I do, stay in Carmel for the convenience like Sandy suggest. Parking will soon be metered with computer feed cards. But Pacific Grove also has some nice bed and breakfast, and restaurants.

The best motel in Monterey is the Monterey Plaza Hotel. It is luxurious with spas, balconies, right on the water, 5 star.
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 03:54 AM
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Whatever you do, don't miss Point Lobos State Park - one of the most scenic places I've ever been. Just spectacular!
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 09:04 AM
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"Salinas and Sea Side are not safe places to go . . . "!!!

Huh? Salinas is still mostly a sleepy agricultural town, and the birthplace of John Steinbeck. Check out the museum there if you're interested, and have a great Mexican meal at a nearby restaurant. Wouldn't recommend staying there, as it doesn't have the attractions or lodging of Carmel, etc., but blanket statements like it's not safe are really just bizarre.

The Highlands Inn is great, but quite a ways from Carmel Village. Agree with L about the Monterey Plaza Hotel --it's wonderful. La Playa (in Carmel Village) and Mission Ranch (in Carmel, but further south) are also nice.

Have fun!
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 09:14 AM
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What exactly is "17 mile drive"? I've seen it mentioned, but not WHY it's a "don't miss."
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 12:38 PM
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Salinas does have the wonderful Steinbeck museum,but some areas aren't as safe as they could be.
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 01:10 PM
J Correa
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About Salinas, some areas aren't safe, but most are ok. Salinas has problems with gangs, but anybody visiting the town will be able to tell right away which areas are good and which aren't.

17-Mile Drive goes through a scenic and very ritzy area. Lot's of mansions. Pebble Beach golf course is there. I think it's about $8 to drive through. Lots of people love it, but I could take it or leave it.
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 03:49 PM
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Not only does the 17 mile drive go past wealthy homes but it goes past some very pretty shoreline. I personally wouldn't bother, but for many it is a must not miss. Re: staying in Carmel, Monterey or PG--it really is a matter of preference, however, I prefer Carmel and PG over Monterey itself. I also think many people think they are in Monterey when they are in fact in PG. Most of the charming B&B's overlooking Monterey Bay are actually in PG. Wherever you chose, the Monterey Pennisula is very beautiful and like others I would recommend that you not miss Point Lobos, which I would choose over the 17 mile drive any day.
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 04:16 PM
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Just wondering what areas a tourist could possibly go through in Salinas that would be unsafe???

Shaking my head . . .
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 05:13 PM
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Salinas Unsafe.? My in laws were just there a couple months ago. Boring, yes, but not unsafe. Stay in Carmel and you will have access to all three areas. Have a great time.
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 05:57 PM
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Any one who watches the local news knows Salinas has a gang problem. There seems to be a gang shooting once a week. It's not the most dangerous place in the world but it's certainly not the safest. This is just good info for a tourist to keep in mind. That's all,no reason to take offense
Old Sep 23rd, 2002, 06:43 PM
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No offense taken, but I think people must be thinking of North Salinas when they talk about safety. South Salinas is not a hotbed of gang activity, it's middle America.
Old Sep 24th, 2002, 04:24 AM
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I agree with Susan: I would also choose Pt. Lobos over 17 mile drive.
Old Sep 24th, 2002, 07:18 AM
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The Monterey Peninsula is one of the most scenic and romantic destinations in the country.

My wife and I got married last year at the Highlands Inn and it was wonderful. Its about a 5-10 minute drive south of the Carmel village. If you book a room there, just make sure that you request one that's higer up on the hill as those have the best views of the Ocean.

You can also spend a 1/2 day visiting the various wineries in Carmel Valley. Two good ones (about 30 minutes away) include Talbott and Bernardus.
Old Sep 24th, 2002, 10:42 AM
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You can stay anywhere in these 3 cities and you are pretty close to the other 2.

Pacific Grove is a real town, Carmel is a quaint tourist town. PG has the best coastline.

Check out to get information on this town. Great place to stay and have a view of the ocean if that is what you want. The GREEN GABLE INN or SEVEN GABLES INN are both situated overlooking the Bay in Pacific Grove.
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