Hiking in Julie Phieffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, Monterey County, California

California Scenic Highway Honeymoon


May 20, 2021
Words by Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photos courtesy of See Monterey

Repairs to California’s most scenic highway, Highway 1, have been completed weeks ahead of schedule, enabling the highway to reopen in Monterey County. Now is the moment for travelers to responsibly explore more than 655 miles along California’s coast including the ruggedly breathtaking utopia of Big Sur. The reopening grants full access to Monterey County’s diverse parks, culinary bounty and impressive lodging portfolio featuring everything from campgrounds to luxury resorts.

Travelers can look to visit staple attractions and sites, as well as recently opened or soon-to-be open trails and dining options throughout Big Sur and beyond. As travel returns to the region, Monterey County encourages visitors to educate themselves on new rules, regulations and responsible visitation behavior including leaving no trace behind, staying on designated trails, camping in designated areas and following CDC guidelines.

“Highway 1 is an integral part to experiencing some of the best coastline in not only Monterey County, but the world,” said Rob O’Keefe, president and CEO of Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Monterey County CVB). “We ask visitors to plan ahead, leave no trace and help us preserve and protect this iconic area of our destination so that they and others can visit for years to come.”

As travelers plan their epic spring and summer road trips, Monterey County CVB has compiled a list of places to stay, play and eat along Highway 1.


Monterey, California

STAY: Having recently completed a guest room renovation, Portola Hotel and Spa is situated in the heart of downtown Monterey, just steps away from historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf. This summer, the hotel will reopen its restaurants including Jacks Monterey and Peter B’s Brewpub, as well as its outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. The hotel’s spa is currently open and offering services.

PLAY: Reopening to the public on May 15, visitors can book their tickets in advance to be among the first to experience the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium located along iconic Cannery Row. Dedicated to marine research and conservation, the Aquarium features 35,000 creatures representing over 550 sea life and marine species.

EAT: Open for breakfast and lunch, Alta Bakery and Café offers an elevated New American menu inside the restored Cooper Molera complex. Enjoy locally grown, seasonal ingredients in both savory and sweet forms, as well as a robust coffee and tea menu. 

Pebble Beach, California

STAY: Reopened in January 2021, the boutique Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach Resorts, known as a “resort-within-a-resort,” offers luxurious Mediterranean-inspired design sensibility. Tucked below the first and second holes at famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, Casa Palmero is an elegant and intimate estate with 24 private rooms.

PLAY: No road trip to Monterey County is complete without experiencing 17-Mile Drive. Take in incredible views including giant trees at Crocker Grove, beautiful stretches of beach and the iconic Lone Cypress. Golf lovers can also look to book a tee time at Pebble Beach Resort’s new short course, The Hay. A 20,000-square-foot putting course designed in partnership with Tiger Woods, enjoy a course that is sure to be a hit for players of all skill levels.

EAT: Located on property at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Bench overlooks the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The quintessential dining experience offers an eclectic menu inspired by international styles and offers an array of wines on tap, premium draft beers and an impressive cocktail menu. 

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

STAY: Bustling with unique hotels and inns, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers more than 40 hotels within its one square mile. For those seeking a luxury stay, choose L’Auberge Carmel, a full-service Relais & Chateaux property. Originally built in 1929, the historic hotel offers a European-style stay and is home to the California central coast’s only Michelin Star restaurant, Aubergine.  

PLAY: Offering several of the most sought-after Monterey County wines, Carmel-by-the-Sea allows visitors to walk within its one-square-mile village for wine tastings between 16 tasting rooms. Stop by its newest tasting room, Talbott Vineyard. Talbott’s wines have garnered praise from wine critics and enthusiasts alike for more than three decades including receiving a rare 100-point score for their 1990 Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay from Wine Spectator

EAT: Having just opened in March, Edwin’s Carmel offers lunch and dinner diners island fresh cuisine inspired by Southeast Asia. The Balinese fried chicken and homemade lumpia Shanghai are a must-try on the menu.


Big Sur, California

STAY: After being closed for several months in 2020, the historic Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn has returned to offer guests its rustic and eclectic lodging accommodations. On May 8, the inn will once again offer its popular breakfast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays including eggs benedict and more. As the inn stays true to its historic roots, guests must call to book a reservation at 831-667-2377.

PLAY: Parks are endless in Big Sur, from experiencing a mini-Yosemite park at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to exploring Calla Lily Valley at Garrapata State Park. Big Sur’s beloved Pine Ridge Trail recently reopened after being closed for five years. Located in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, the 19.5-mile trail leads hikers from Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp with a cover of redwoods, pine and oak along the way.

EAT: Anticipated to reopen by the summer, Big Sur Smokehouse, part of Venanta Big Sur, offers guests a mixture of mouthwatering Texas and Kansas City barbecue including house-smoked meats and sauces. The newest restaurant on Highway 1, visitors can look for the red barn to know they’ve arrived.

For more information on Monterey County, Highway 1 and to plan a trip, visit www.SeeMonterey.com.

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