Friday, May 26, 2017

My Monterey Favorites

We are less than a month away from leaving the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. I've been thinking and looking back on photos of the last two years here and wanted to share some favorites. I have loved living here and will always have such warm and happy memories. So if you get the chance to come here, DO IT. Prettiest and most diverse place in California, and in my opinion, the country! 
1. Walks to and around Old Fishermans Wharf. We made this walk countless times from our little cottage and never grew tired of it. The beautiful water, the sailboats sitting serenely in the harbor, the animal watching, and the samples of clam chowder. Something for everyone ;)

2. The Flowers. Gorgeousness year round, particularly the late winter and spring. Calla Lily Valley, Pacific Grove's Pink Carpet, fields of wildflowers at Fort Ord National Monument, and the endless choice of flowers at the farmers markets. They make me so happy. 

3. Hiking at Garrapatta and Point Lobos. Our go-to spots when we wanted to enjoy a variety of hikes without driving far. I love both, but we ended up at Garrapatta a lot, because it's free and we didn't feel like dropping $10 all the time at Point Lobos ha. Both are must see places in my opinion. Calla Lily Valley is at Garrapatta, by the way.

 4. Big Sur. Love this place. Grateful we were able to enjoy a lot of it before the summer wildfires and winter flooding blocked full access and closed some of the state parks we love. McWay Falls is one of them. Nepenthe and Rocky Point Restaurants both have amazing views, and the Big Sur River Inn is such a fun place to kick back and soak your feet in the river.
 5. The Redwoods. I don't think I ever wrote a whole post about them, but I always LOVED visiting the Redwoods Forest. My go-to place is Henry Cowell State Park in Santa Cruz. (the quickest drive and the grove is stroller friendly which made it really easy) We also did the old steam train ride with the boys through the forest which is right next door to the State Park. These trees are amazing and inspiring!

6. Yosemite. Incredible. After visiting in the fall we had to return again in the spring for the full waterfall glory of this beautiful place. Worth the drive!

7. Walks around downtown Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel is so incredibly charming it's so fun to just enjoy every street and all the hidden gems. Downtown Monterey isn't as charming ha but it still has some yummy places to eat and cool historical places to see. My favorite is the Pacific House Museum and Gardens. It's free entry, so I would walk here all the time with the boys and enjoy the Spanish style and architecture.

8. Beaches! So many beaches to choose from in pretty much every direction. The one downside? Maybe only one or two days out of the year will you actually wear a swimming suit and get in the water ha! Even fully clothed, the beaches here still are so relaxing. My favorites are Carmel Beach and Carmel River State Beach, and for a quick trip with no waves for the kids, the Monterey State Beach/Del Monte Beach.
9. Restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. Honestly, this is something I wish we could have enjoyed more of, but I don't think our bank accounts would allow us to. Since Monterey and Carmel are vacation towns, things can get pricey pretty quickly. So our favorites would be in the mid-range ha.
Favorite bakeries: Parker Lusseau, Lafayette Bakery in Carmel, Cafe La Strada, and Pavel's Bakery in Pacific Grove.
Favorite breakfast place: Lulu's Griddle in the Middle--yummiest crab cake breakfast!
Favorite (kind of) fast food: The Poke Lab, Dametra Cafe (the one in the Monterey Mall), Crepes of Brittany, and Ike's Sandwiches. (Victor and J will say Chipotle and we certainly ate there a lot, but I'm not including it)
Favorite date night restaurants: The Beach House in Pacific Grove, Lala Grille and Dametra Cafe in Carmel. 
Favorite Ice Cream: Revival and the Ghirardelli Ice Cream on Cannery Row (save yourself the trip to San Francisco and go to this one! Prettier views, less crowded and same menu).

10. Favorite Places for the kids: Earthbound Farms in Carmel, Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville, and the MY Museum in Downtown Monterey. Also the Monterey Bay Aquarium--has a great kids area! Love these places for my kids (and myself) to enjoy. Any place where my boys can run, explore and enjoy nature is what makes life great for all of us. Sometimes I really just wanted a Chik Fil A play place (like 70 miles away), but these places are great substitutes ha. 

So there you go. Maybe someday someone will take my suggestions, but in the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed seeing Monterey through my eyes. Love this beautiful place!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Strawberry Picking!

The drive through Watsonville and into Castroville and Salinas is gorgeous farmland, and as you drive by the strawberry fields, they are so big you can see the red spots throughout the fields even from the road. 

We had such a fun morning picking our own strawberries at Gizdich Ranch. J loved it! I thought we would pick like a pound, but he just kept going and we got about 4 pounds of strawberries! Dom just loved running up and down, and dumping out the buckets J had filled. He would be a bad farm worker. 

^^proud of his harvest^^
 And the other part of Gizdich Ranch I love?? The homemade pie shop yummmmm. There is also a little play area with tables.

 Glad I could meet up with Brittany, whom I had met way back in Okinawa at the USO baby shower. Our babies were just weeks apart, and now look at them!

So next time you buy strawberries, look at the label, and most likely they were picked in Watsonville. Maybe J even picked them for you ;)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Pink Carpet

I took the boys on a walk solo this afternoon since Victor is in the thick of thesis writing and I didn't want them cooped up all day on a Saturday. The Pink Carpet is in full bloom right now in Pacific Grove and it's so lovely. 
 ^^can you spot j pondering on the bench?^^
 ^^lots of this when he doesn't get to do exactly what he wants. heaven help me he has sass^^
 J sure had a great time. He's a great little walking buddy who actually listens and stays with you now (for the most part). Dominic on the other hand...not so much. Let's hope it gets better with time. I sure love them, and I love this place. Beauty everywhere!