Tag Archives: Monterey

Thanksgiving Weekend Weather Forecasts At USA Beaches

Sunny Skies And Warm Temperatures In Southern California

Coronado Beach San Diego
Coronado Beach in San Diego is one of the best places for weather over Thanksgiving.


It seems whenever I do one of these holiday weekend weather reports, the advice is always the same: Head west for the best beach weather.

And that’s the case once again for Thanksgiving Day in 2014. Southern California will be basking in 70-degree weather and sunshine.

Los Angeles – which has beaches including Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach and the lively South Bay consisting of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo – it’s the usual warm Thanksgiving weather. Perfect for hanging out on the beach and/or taking a bike ride along The Strand. On Saturday, USC takes on Notre Dame in the LA Coliseum; if you are going be sure and bring a sweatshirt (but NOT one that says ND, ha).

San Diego – Ditto for the most fun city in California. Have drinks on the deck of the Hotel Del overlooking Coronado, stroll the dramatic cliffs in La Jolla and act like it’s endless summer in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Mission Beach. Or, get a convertible and cruise up the coast through the beach towns of Del Mar, Encinitas, San Clemente, Dana Point, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.

Northern California – San Francisco will be nice with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s but remember it gets cold in “the City” at night so always have a jacket or sweatshirt with you. If you’re going wine tasting, Napa will also be mostly sunny and in the mid-60s (Friday is going to be the best and brightest day). If you find yourself in Carmel or Monterey, consider yourself lucky! Plus, the weather will be mostly sunny and mid-60s but like in San Francisco it will get chilly at night. Up the coast 45 minutes in Santa Cruz, do all your outdoor activities before Saturday when rain is expected to arrive in this cool little beach town.

Hawaii – The weather in Southern California actually surpasses that of the #1 Thanksgiving destination according to PubClub.com, Honolulu. While the temperatures in paradise will be in the typical mid-80s, it will be mostly cloudy the entire weekend. This will not affect the parade through Waikiki Beach, which takes place Friday evening and honors Pearl Harbor survivors and victims.  Maui and the Big Island will have sunshine.

Another fairly pleasant beach to be at on Turkey Day Weekend is South Padre Island, Texas. There, it will be partly sunny Thursday and Friday with full sunshine arriving on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-60s and upper 50s at night.

The South and East Coast will be coming out of a period of thunderstorms by Thursday with overall mostly sunny skies. Here’s a breakdown from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard.

Florida –In South Beach, rain on Wednesday gives way to to partly sunny skies the rest of the weekend with highs in the low 70s dropping to about 60 at night. The situation is similar in Key West with rain on Wednesday, mostly cloudy Thursday and Friday and showers Saturday morning. Temperatures will be in the mid-70s and mid-60s.  In the Keys, it will be cloudy and windy Thursday and Friday and sunny on Saturday. On the West Coast of the Sunshine State, St. Pete will be very pleasant, mostly sunny Thursday thru the weekend with temperatures a mild 65.

South Carolina – Myrtle Beach will be nice, albeit cool at night, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (55 high, 40 low) with rain coming in on Saturday night. The nice resort area of Hilton Head Island will be sunny but a tad cool, especially at night. The daytime highs are expected to be in the mid-50s with the evening temperatures dropping to the low 40s.

Ocean City, MD – This popular beach town will be cool and sunny with temperatures stretching to 50 on Friday but lows in the mid-30s.

Martha’s Vineyard – A warm stretch of weather hits the East Coast on Thanksgiving and that is going to make Martha’s Vineyard rather pleasant, at least by November standards. It will be mostly sunny with temperatures hovering near 50 and lows a tolerable 38-39. Rain is expected to arrive on Saturday.



Monterey Jazz Festival 2013 Brings In Artists And Fans Sept. 20-22

One Of World’s Top Jazz Festivals In It’s 56th Year

Monterey Jazz Festial Crowd Craig Lovell Photography
The Monterey Jazz Festival brings in top performers and thousands of people. Photo: Craig Lovell, Monterey Jazz Festival

There are not a ton of events in Monterey, CA, but when there is one, it is big.

And the biggest of them all is the Monterey Jazz Festival. The 2013 music festival is the 56th annual event, and it takes place Friday-Sunday, Sept. 20-22. The location is the Monterey County Fairgrounds, which is located at 2000 Fairground Road in Monterey, CA.

The festival, one of the most renowned in the world, consist of more than 500 artists performing nonstop on eight stages. It’s broken up into the Arena, which has 13 bands; and the grounds, with 77 events on seven stages. Bobby McFerrin is one of the 2013 headliners.

There is, of course, also food and beverages and even films.

The Monterey Jazz Festival is one of the “must-do” events of people from all over the Monterey Bay area, and also brings in people from the Bay Area and also Los Angeles. It has been the annual destination for thousands of people for decades.

The Monterey County Fairgrounds are at the intersection of Highway 68 and US1.

Single day grounds tickets are $45 on Friday and $55 on Saturday and Sunday. There are also several ticket packages (single-day arena tickets are $74 and $142). Parking is $20/35.

Tickets: (888) 248-6499.

Website: www.montereyjazzfestival.org

Monterey Travel Blog: Exploring El Estero Park For A Picnic & Walk

Taking The Fisherman’s Grotto Sandwich To A New Lunch Location Proves Rewarding

Monterey's El Estero Park is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing day in Monterey.
Monterey El Estero Park

This is a series of blogs about the California coast. This one focuses on Monterey Bay.

I don’t like to think of myself as being a “routine guy.” Sounds like such a blah existence.

So let’s just say when I find something I like, I tend to stick with it.

And when it comes to lunch in  Monterey, CA, I have found something I like, so that’s my thing now. It’s the the pre-made, to-go turkey sandwiches from Old Fisherman’s Grotto on Fisherman’s Wharf.  This is a stacked-high sandwich with lettuce and cheese  on delicious bread. It cost just $6 and is so fulling it’s a full meal.

Plus, strolling the Wharf at lunchtime is entertaining; you get to see confused tourists trying to figure out where to go and get to sample clam chowder from the entertaining staff calling at potential customers. Those who are peddling the chowder – in the hope that you will choose their restaurant – are Monterey’s version of street performers.

Normally, my routine is to take the sandwich around the corner to one of the benches looking out over the sailboats in Monterey Bay. But this time, I wanted to try something different, so I put the sandwich in my backpack and headed to El Estero Park.

You may have driven by it on the way into town. It’s where the signs lead you from US1 to Cannery Row and the aquarium. I wanted to check it out since I had never explored it in all my trips to Monterey.

Monterey El Estero Park
The entrance to El Estero Park invites all to enjoy its scenery and activities.


Monterey El Estero Park
El Estero Park is free of tourists and is a great place to relax.


Monterey El Estero Park
In El Estero Park, trees hang over the pond in picture-perfect harmony.


And I’m glad I did, let me tell you.   It’s a small park with water running down the center of it and a couple of bridges with white-painted columns. Very scenic. And very peaceful.

It’s right across the street and two blocks north of  the Fisherman’s Village entrance, so it’s a short walk from the bustle of the pier. Once you get to it, it’s like entering a different world, free of tourists and crowds.

I walked across one of the bridges and along the water and spied a bench where I would sit for lunch. Along the way, I walked inches away from ducks and geese, and they acted as if I didn’t exist. Some did not even pull their beaks out of their feathers as they relaxed (slept?), confident in the knowledge that I was not one of those people who would pull out a high-powered rifle and shoot them for my amusement and/or dinner.

Monterey El Estero Park ducks
At first, the ducks were undisturbed by the blogger's presence.


Monterey El Estero Park
Knowing his goose isn't cooked, this cool cat hangs around hoping for a handout.


Geese and ducks are interesting creatures. After I sat down and pulled out the sandwich, they stirred to life and came wadding over in my direction. They are not like pigeons, tho, that you constantly have to shoo away (this is the case at the benches over the bay, by the way).

Instead, they come over and act totally disinterested, pecking at the dirt as if they just happen to be in the neighborhood. They are almost cat-like in their coolness.  Of course, they really want you to toss them something – and don’t, as there are signs all over the place asking you not to do so –but the way they go about it is so nonchalant. I spent my lunch time watching them watch me.

I then packed up and went for a stroll. I was surprised to see that the eastern end of the park is almost swamp like in appearance; it has tall blades of grass at the water’s edge. It also has one of those water purification fountains and that reminded me of golf courses in Florida. I had to restrain myself from instinctively wandering through the vegetation looking for a lost ball from a wayward approach shot.

From the street, the park appears to be quaint but as I walked it, I found it to be quite substantial. When it reaches Del Monte Street (the main north-south thoroughfare that goes from to Seaside to Cannery Row) it hugs the road. This is across the street from the beach, by the way. And then as it swings to the right at the next street, it goes back even further.

There’s also more to it that meets the initial eye. You can rent paddleboats from a small family-run lake house of sorts.  I thought about it until I saw the prices: $32 for an hour, $18 for half an hour. I could get a nice bottle of Monterey County wine for less than that, I quickly calculated.

Monterey El Estero Park
Benches surround the pond, one of which the blogger used to have lunch.


Monterey El Estero Park
The dirt path that circles the water is ideal for running or walking.

So I continued my walk and it proved to be rewarding. I discovered a place for breakfast and lunch I previously did not know existed, the Bay Cafe on Camino Aquajito across from the pond.

I continued up and turned right at a road and found another surprise: A designated picnic area! It has grills and tables. And just beyond that is a skate park. And a Little League baseball stadium that is nicer than some minor league ballparks I’ve been in, quite frankly.

Continuing on the road that slices through the center of the park is a small food stand with burgers, hot dogs and burritos. It’s adjacent to the Dennis The Menace Playground, an ideal (and free) place for kids.

There are also restrooms, and it’s all run by the city.

Finally, I stepped into the Monterey Tourist Information office, which has nice displays of area attractions and activities, along with the usual assortment of promotional brochures.  I picked up a couple of maps and inquired about all those tents I saw going up in the Monterey Historical Park earlier in the day. Turns out there’s an Italian festival taking place all weekend.

Oddly, it had only a small stack of brochures on Laguna Seca, Monterey’s famous racetrack. And there’s a sports car race this weekend. That used to be one of the major happening events in the entire area.

My afternoon walk through the park took two hours. It was very pleasant – and different – way to spend a day in Monterey Bay. One day, I’ll return with my running shoes on and run along its dirt path, which is better for the feet and knees than the concrete path that runs along the bay and beach. Plus, there are three stations of exercise bars around the park.

The park is also pet friendly; just be sure and clean up after your dog!

I highly recommend this place as a spot to chill out in Monterey Bay.

Next blog: Going to the tiki bar in Monterey!


Monterey Bay’s Cheap Lunches (And The Fisherman’s Grotto Sandwich)


California Coastal Blog: Driving From LA To Monterey Bay

A Near-Flawless Afternoon On Highway 101

Monterey Bay Boat Docks
My final destination, a boat docked in Monterey Bay.

This is one of a series of blogs about life and personal experiences in California.

A friend is getting married in Monterey, CA, and while I am happy to be at her wedding on Cannery Row, I have to confess I would have been here anyway this weekend.

The ceremony just happened to be the perfect marriage, so to speak, of her event and a trip I was already planning. I come to Monterey often – three to four times a year – because not only do I love the place but because a very cool friend allows me to stay on his boat in the harbor.

Plus, I have a PR friend who is connected to hotels, restaurants and resorts and she rolls out the red press carpet when she knows I’m in town. Or sometimes she invites me to awesome places like Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley.

This trip, I had planned to use Monterey as a weekend stop on my way to watching the America’s Cup in San Francisco. And that may still happen, though right before my departure from Manhattan Beach, I received a press invite to spend two days next week in Santa Barbara. I’m not sure I responded fast enough to secure the invitation but if it works out, that will be my new plan.

Anyway, I made the drive from Los Angeles to Monterey on a hot and sunny Thursday in September. It’s been so hot in L.A., the past two weeks – with humidity that reminds me of the tropics – I was anxious to get to a cooler location.

I headed out of Manhattan Beach at 11 a.m., knowing it would take about seven hours to go door-to-dock. Some people say they do it quicker – in fact, just the previous night I encountered someone who claimed they drove from San Francisco in 5 1/2 hours – but I’ve done it enough times to know the true time.

As far as my route, I always take Highway 101. Some suggest the 5 (Interstate 5) but it’s no quicker to/from Monterey and there’s a three-hour section that’s so boring a solo driver is in danger of nodding off and winding up in a row of pistachio trees.

Highway 101 Goleta Rest Stop Park
The Goleta rest stop and park where I was denied by picnic by Caltrans.


The 101 is the Rodney Dangerfield of scenic highways; it’s gorgeous but because it’s so well traveled it never gets the respect of, say, Highway 1.

I had a cooler packed of cold beverages (water, tea) and a sandwich and was trying to decide where I was going to pull over for lunch. (Traveling in the car with sandwiches for lunch is a Southerners trait. Californians, by contrast, will always stop to eat in a restaurant). Once, I sat on the beach by the Santa Barbara Pier. This time, I was weighing El Capitan State Beach and Goleta State Beach, both north of Santa Barbara.

It was a little past 1 p.m., and I decided to do the quick thing, and that was to sit as one of the picnic tables at the Goleta rest stop.  It doubles as  a nice little park, off the right side of the 101 when traveling north, with easy-on, easy-off access. And there’s sterile, but clean, bathrooms.

I pulled in, pulled out my lunch and the Sports section of the LA Times, settled onto a picnic table and was just about to take a bite of my sandwich when a guy in a hardhat and orange vest told me to leave. There were several guys in hardhats and orange vests and they cleared out the place.

They were with Caltrans mumbled something about a sewage problem but never did say why we had to depart, just that we had to “leave right now.” Frankly, considering I’m constantly cursing Caltrans’ freeway designers, I question anything in which that agency is involved.

Denied my sandwich, I now contemplated my options. All the parks and state beaches were behind me and the next rest stop was 100 or so miles to the north.  I made a couple of feeble efforts to find a spot to eat – one at the Anderson’s Split Pea Soup exit in Buellton and another at the too-busy Highway 1 Hearst Castle exit which I regretted immediately – but failing to find anything, settled for eating in the car.

It’s not nearly as bad as texting and driving, and I managed it with ease, but I constantly had to be aware of my fellow motorists. There are basically two kinds of motorists here, the plodding trucks and speeding BMWs (and the occasional Hyundi whose drivers think they are in a BMW for some reason) and SUVs who seem to be oblivious to the fact there are other vehicles on the road.

Plus, there are hills and curves to conquer. The 101 is incredibly scenic but you have to have your wits about you when driving it.

I was also looking for a Target store. When packing, I was unable to find my travel battery-powered toothbrush and figured I could pick one up at Target for about five bucks. I had recalled seeing Targets all along the way on my last trip but now, I only passed one, in Oxnard, and I wasn’t even sure it was open. It was part of a massive mall complex that was so new you were on it before you realized it existed. It had no big marquee announcing it as a mall, but rather a series of small signs in succession. I came up on it almost as if I had startled it.

Eventually, I found a Target just north of Paso Robles in a not-too-busy strip mall of sorts, where I also filled up with gas ($3.89 for regular at an Arco which, I noted, was a dime more than gas at the bigger name places in Buellton).

The rest of the trip continued without mental incident and I rolled into Monterey Bay at about 5:30. The wind has picked up and there was a slight chill to the air, even though it was bright and sunny.

After two weeks of sweltering in LA, it felt great.

Next up: Blogging about being in Monterey Bay.



Monterey’s Portola Hotel & Spa Has Fall Wine Harvest Package

California Region Boats 85 Wineries And Vineyards

Monterey Hotels Portola Hotel & Spa
The Portola Hotel & Spa is located by the wharf and downtown Monterey.

Fall into fall – just don’t fall down! – with this great idea from the Portola Hotel & Spa in beautiful Monterey, CA.

To take advantage of the abundance of wines and wineries– there are 85 wineries and vineyards – in Monterey County, the Portola has a Wine Harbest Package.

It includes a one-night stay, a bottle of Monterey County wine, a tote and corkscrew and breakfast for two at Jack’s Restaurant. The Portola can set you up with a tour through the wineries (at an extra cost) and for those who don’t want to worry about driving – like me – there’s a wine trolly that has a stop right at the Portola’s entrance.

Right out the Portola’s door are two wine tasting rooms, there are four more in Cannery Row a mile away and just a few minutes away there are more than a dozen wine tasting rooms in neighboring Carmel. The Portola is located at Portola Plaza, at the end of Alvarado Street, which has man of Monterey’s restaurant and bars. It also sits above Fisherman’s Wharf and many rooms have great views looking out onto Monterey Bay.

Fall rates at the Portola range from $270 for a double room to $400 for a studio suite.

I did a reservations check and all Saturdays in September are full. So get on it quick!

Package includes:

  • Nautically inspired guest room
  • A warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie upon
  • Complimentary bottle of Monterey County wine
  • Complimentary logoed Portola wine bag & corkscrew
  • Guide to Monterey Wine County
  • Breakfast for two in Jacks Restaurant & Lounge
  • Complimentary 24 hour fitness center
  • Heated pool, Jacuzzi & poolside cabanas

Here’s the link to book this package: www.portolahotel.com/specials/food-and-wine/harvest-package


For a review of the Portola Hotel & Spa, click here!



Monterey Carmel Pacific Grove Links To Hotels, Restaurants Activities

Links To Activities And Wine Tasting Throughout Monterey Bay

Carmel's Best Hotels Hofsas House Room
The Beach Blogger spreads out at Carmel's Hofsas House, with a glass of wine, of course.

Anytime is a great time to visit Monterey Bay in the upper Central California coast.  Here’s an overview of Surfside Sam’s best restaurants, bars, activities and hotel recommendations. Links follow at the bottom of the post.

There’s so much to do, such as going on the Carmel Food Tours at lunchtime, where you taste your way through some of the town’s finest restaurants, all led by a friendly local guide. Follow that up with the Carmel Wine Walk, which is a $50 pass that’s good for several of the town’s tasting rooms. No need for a designated driver to the wineries; the wineries are right in the town waiting on you to visit!

Have dinner at the exotic tapas restaurant Mundaka one night and the fabulous Fandando in Pacific Grove the next. And be sure and be cool by going to Carme’s Best Dive Bars!

Stay in the Hofsas House, an European-style hotel on the edge of town with a staff so friendly I’ve started calling the owner “Aunt Carrie.”

Just 10 minutes away is Monterey and it, too, has several wine tasting rooms.

It also has a great restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, Abalonetti Bar & Grill, which I highly recommend, and fun bars and nightlife. Stay at the Portola Hotel, which almost always has specials with tickets to area activities.

You can spend a weekend in Monterey Bay or easily make it a week. Or much longer.

Lover's Cove Pacific Grove California
Lover's Cove at Pacific Grove is one of Monterey Bay's most beautiful spots.


And of course, go by Pacific Grove, between the Monterey and Carmel, which in my opinion is the most gorgeous spot in the entire area.

And be sure to head up to Moss Landing to look at the harbor and have drinks and lunch or dinner at the Haute Enchilada.

Here’s links to all the places I mention in this post.

Carmel Wine Walk Wine Tasting Rooms
The Carmel Wine Walk is a great way to visit many of the village's tasting rooms.



Carmel Food Tour

Carmel Wine Walk

Mundaka Restaurant Review

Reviewing Carmel’s Dive Bars

Hofas House Hotel Review


Abalonetti on Fisherman's Wharf Monterey Restaurants sand dabs.
A dinner of sand dabs, a Monterey specialty, at Abalonetti on Fisherman's Wharf.


• Abalonetti Bar & Grill




How To Have A Good Cheap Lunch At Monterey Bay’s Fisherman’s Wharf

Have Some Chowder, Grab A Sandwich And Have A Picnic With A View

Monterey restaurants Old Fisherman's Grotto
The sandwiches at Old Fisherman's Grotto are filling and delicious.

It’s easy to spend a fortune on food when traveling, so I’m always looking for good deals when I’m on the road.

I found one in Monterey, CA, and it’s so good it’s become part of my daily routine when I’m in this beautiful city on the California coast. And it only costs me six bucks.

It’s on Fisherman’s Wharf, which is lined with restaurant after restaurant – and for dinner, I highly recommend the sand dabs at Abalonetti’s, although the owner Kevin says they make calamari that tastes like abalone –but I pass on the sit-down choices.

Instead, I discovered a very tasty alternative. I grab one of the sandwiches on sale outside of Old Fisherman’s Grotto and take it to a bench by the bay to enjoy it.

Monterey restaurants Old Fisherman's Grotto
The blogger always goes for the turkey but there are also tuna salad sandwiches.


Monterey restaurants best chowder Isabella's
Start out by sampling all the chowders; Isabella's is tops in this blogger's opinion.


The sandwiches are huge. In fact, those looking for a light meal could share it with two people.  I always opt for the turkey, which is piled high like those day-after-Thanksgiving sandwiches. It’s on a thick, delicious bread and is a full, satisfying meal.

And as a side dish, you don’t need to buy a bag of chips or small fruit bowl. Just walk down the pier and try all the free samples of the clam chowder people are handing out in front of the restaurants. The chowder at Fisherman’s Grotto is very good, it’s outstanding at Abalonetti’s but the best, in my opinion, is Isabella’s.

Monterey scenic spots
There are picnic tables with a view next to Fisherman's Wharf.


Monterey scenic spots
Lunch with a view; there are many places to sit and look out onto Monterey Bay.


As for where to eat the sandwich, I go around the corner to a small park. It has picnic tables and benches and has a view of the boats on the bay and the back side of the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants. Keep walking and there are several more picnic tables and benches, and even a large grassy park just before you enter Cannery Row.

This is the ultimate Monterey Bay picnic!




for six bucks and