Monterey and Carmel begin to welcome visitors
Summer is just around the corner and with the state reopening on June 15, barring any changes in the COVID pandemic, California residents can experience many attractions closer to home.
The health crisis in the Golden State is starting to abate due to people getting vaccinated, which means summer vacations could be a source of domestic road trips for the season.
LGBTQ travelers to the San Francisco Bay Area will likely be among the first to hit the road (if they haven’t already) for a great California adventure.
Two options are Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey. Just a few hours south of the Bay Area, these towns offer wild adventure, luxury getaway and more. The area moved to orange level in early April and See Monterey, the county tourism board, encourages safe travel with up-to-date advisories and guidelines.
Individual hotels, tours, tasting rooms and restaurants are also following pandemic guidelines as the county and state continue to reopen.
“I always love to host people who come to Carmel,” said Amanda LeVett, owner of Vagabond House, the only LGBTQ-owned bed and breakfast located in the heart of the charming seaside town.
LeVett, who identifies as gay and non-binary, and gay CEO Thomas Rogers would like to see more LGBTQ travelers visit Carmel and Monterey.
“I think we need more LGBT travelers in Carmel to make a difference,” said Carmel native LeVett, picturing drag queens (and other women) recording their high heels at the hotel. town, one of the eccentric ordinances that remain on the books.
LeVett’s father worked side-by-side with legendary movie star Doris Day at the Cypress Inn and other Carmel Boutique Inns while his art collector mother and Day created the interior sets.
“Carmel is unique,” said Thomas. “This is one of those places that everyone wants to discover.”
LeVett added, “If you stay in Carmel, it’s like that perfect little hub. You have everything around you.”
Thomas believes he and LeVett have been successful in attracting queer sensibility as well as digitally connected and eco-friendly needs into the newly renovated rooms, he told BAR Rooms are an open layout with minimalist modernist interiors that are in line with the building. the story.
Depending on which direction you go from Big Sur to Moss Landing, adventure awaits. Wine tastings, dining, and outdoor activity shopping are all within a 30-minute drive or more.
Things to do
The Monterey Coast offers travelers a wide variety of activities and a generally slower pace.
The first thing LeVett and Rogers advise travelers to do is hike the plethora of trails along the coast.
Outdoor enthusiast LeVett loves taking his friends hiking in Big Sur. They generally like to end hikes with guests by dipping their feet in the river at River Inn while enjoying a cocktail, they said.
They also like to take their guests for a morning stroll along Carmel Beach and brunch at Stationæry, enjoy an afternoon cocktail at Terry’s Lounge at the Cypress Inn, or take them for a drive back along 17-Mile Drive.
The drive to the coast takes people from Carmel to Pebble Beach to the Monterey Bay Aquarium at the end of Cannery Row.
“It’s one of my favorites,” said LeVett.
The aquarium reopens to the public on May 15. Visitors will need to make reservations online and follow COVID-19 safety rules.
“We couldn’t be more excited to reopen our doors and welcome visitors again, including the LGBTQ community,” Cynthia Vernon, a lesbian who is the aquarium’s director of operations, said in a statement.
“From the incredible diversity of kelp forest display, to playful otters and penguins, to learning how to protect our ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a truly remarkable and fun place – and it ‘is a place for everyone, ”she said.
Kim Powell, lesbian naturalist and tour guide with Blue Water Ventures, who lives on the Santa Cruz coast, enjoys taking her guests out on the water in small groups on kayaking, snorkeling and whale watching to observe the nature of near.
The pandemic has given Powell time to explore and introduce locals to the natural wonders of the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay areas, she told BAR.
“It has been a year of great appreciation for what is in my garden,” said Powell. “I’ve always liked it here”, but the pandemic made him “love this region even more”.
“Monterey Bay is a spectacular place for whale watching,” said Powell, but one of his favorite spots is at Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing, about a 25-minute drive from Carmel and Monterey.
In late spring and summer, she takes guests – women and mixed groups – on guided sunset, full moon, and bioluminescent kayak tours to Elkhorn Slough. At night, guests can see the glow of bioluminescent plankton as their paddles move through the water, triggering algae blooms.
Powell is leading small groups due to the pandemic and following safety guidelines.
Other tours that are less outdoor, but still adventurous, are the Coastal Ride on Mad Dogs & Englishmen E-Bikes Bike Tour and the Land Rover Experience at Quail Lodge.
Driving along the Carmel Coast, I took in the scenery on a funky retro electric bike to the Carmel Mission, which is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year.
My recent trips to Carmel and the Carmel Valley have been the most educational I have ever had despite being from Santa Cruz and vacationing in the area my entire life.
On my last trip, I learned about the history that made Carmel the charming village it became in the 20th century from guide Gael Gallagher. The owner of Gael Gallagher’s Carmel Walks, she told stories and interesting details and facts about Carmel that were just as charming as the town itself while leading our small group through narrow passages around the quaint seaside village .
Gay guide Evan Oakes, owner of , offers a variety of guided experiences, ranging from tours of Monterey farms and vineyards to walking tours, such as the Carmel Valley Village Wine Walk and Historic Monterey Walk.
One of the best things about Carmel is how easy it is to walk, which makes it easy to eat, drink, and shop. One of my favorites is the Self-Guided Carmel Wine Walk. A few other wineries in the area are Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room in Carmel and Folktale Winery & Vineyards and Joyce Wine Company in Carmel Valley.
I also suggest stopping by Folktale Provisions, the cellar’s newest market, and the Cheese Shop in Carmel Plaza for some tasty keepsakes to take home and share with your friends.
Where to stay
Almost all accommodations in the Carmel-Monterey area welcome dogs and give them treats. Those mentioned here are open, but check for any restrictions.
Golf enthusiasts can stay at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in the Carmel Valley. The resort offers guests a comfortable and relaxed country atmosphere in spacious rooms that frame a pristine 18-hole golf course. It also has a nine hole golf course near the main lodge, during which my girlfriend and I enjoyed competitive summer matches as lodge guests.
The lodge hosts the annual Peninsula Motorsport Gathering, showcasing vintage to cutting edge cars and motorcycles. Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic, but look for it on August 13.
The resort is the gateway to some of the region’s wineries and is located between the Carmel Valley Village, which is home to a variety of wine tasting rooms. It is just a 10-minute drive from Carmel and Monterey Wharf and famous Cannery Row.
Whenever my girlfriend and I venture out to Monterey one of the places we love to stay is the Portola Hotel and Spa. Perched on the edge of historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of downtown Monterey, guests get the full experience of staying right on the sea.
The hotel recently underwent a multi-million dollar room renovation featuring coastal-inspired rooms with modern, timeless interiors and upgraded amenities.
Downtown Monterey, Cannery Row and the Wharf are also easily accessible on foot from the hotel. (Cannery Row is a longer walk along a waterfront path.)
Where to eat
For restaurants, check online what is available. Some continue to offer take-out, while others have reduced in-person dining capacity. Reservations are suggested.
Delicious dinners can be found at Grasings, Mission Ranch Restaurant, Whaling Station, Little Napoli, or Seventh & Dolores.
With a break from the outdoor activities and wine tasting in Carmel, I suggest stopping for a refreshing craft brew at the Alvarado Street Brewery and Bistro at Carmel Plaza.
Breakfast and brunch are my jam. If you do, too, you’ll love the locally popular breakfast spots, Wild Plum Cafe, Katy’s Place, and The Village Corner.
New favorites added to my list recently include the farm-to-table Stationæry and the new Belgian bakery L’Aubette, which serves traditional Belgian waffles and other goodies.
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