With a husband who loves racing cars, it would be hard for us to avoid the beautiful Monterey, California. When our two older girls were quite young we went out on a limb to book a room at the Embassy Suites and signed Derek up for racing school at the Laguna Seca Raceway. Much to the chagrin of the entire rest of our family, he was going to go after his dream! I was to care for the kiddos, keep the routines, snack, potty breaks, etc. while Derek went to the Laguna Seca Raceway and learned how to drive open wheel racing cars.
Haylee was in diapers and Paige around three years old. Looking back at some of the video cracks me up, because I was definitely distracted and most likely terrified, with Derek out there speeding around the track. The kids would be trying to get my attention and of course I’d be rolling the camera. Derek and I were quite the combination with my dream to make documentary film and him believing that one should “never waste an audience.” He loved it when I filmed him! So film him I did.
Now, 17 years later Derek races in the Pirelli World Challenge sports car racing series here in North America full time. At least once per year Derek races at the Weathertech Laguna Seca Raceway. This is a fun place to visit for an event if you happen to be traveling to Monterey during one. Monterey is a place we never complain about going to to on race weekends. As a matter of fact, all the times we’ve visited here have been for a racing event.
We have many places that we enjoy to go to but the top five are listed here. The links are included where applicable and of course if you have questions about the area, please comment and ask!
Perched dramatically on historic beachfront property above the beautiful Pacific Ocean, this hotel is one of our favorites. It’s classic decor and comfortable rooms, and overall hospitality make this experience one you won’t forget. Steps from charming Cannery Row, and situated on the Monterey Coastal Recreation Trail this is the ideal location and place to stay to take in all of the Monterey beauty.
This path covers 18 miles of the most beautiful coastline from Castroville ( the artichoke capital of the world) to Pacific Grove. It is two lanes with plenty of safe area for riding bikes, running, or just walking to enjoy the view. We always stay in downtown Monterey where there is direct access to the trail and gorgeous views and benches to stop and take in the wildlife including sea otters, sea lions, birds, and if you are there in the right season, whales. We love to run this trail and have enjoyed many walks with the kids taking in the beauty. The last time we ran the path, we took in some great views and some unexpected inspiration. Check it out in the gallery below!
This is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever been, a coastal view tour from Pacific Grove, where the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail leaves off to Pebble Beach, the famous golfing resort on the Pacific Coast. I’ve made Derek stop to smell the roses and do this drive several times, he doesn’t like to slow down much! It covers some of the most stunning stretches of the coast mixed with some amazing homes nestled in the hills and Manzanita trees above. You must not miss this drive in your lifetime! If you have time you can stop at The Inn at Spanish Bay or The Lodge at Pebble Beach. There several picnic spots along the way if a casual experience is preferred.
Known for it’s seafood and atmosphere, set in the historic Cannery Row area, this restaurant is a must visit. We have been fortunate to experience intimate dining with the racing team and friends, in their downstairs wine cellar area known for entertaining and storing wine for world leaders, sports heros, and entertainment icons. You feel like you are walking through a ride at Disney world or going down into the hull of a pirate ship enroute to this underground experience. The room is filled with stories, even the table has a story, set in and amongst the wine lockers of Clint Eastwood, Leon Panetta, and many more. It’s worth asking if you can check it out while there. The food is delicious from USDA Prime Dry Aged Beef to sustainable, fresh seafood, and much more in between, you can’t go wrong!
This Pier is like a set from a movie! complete with candy shops, a magic shop, a coffee shop and lots of amazing seafood, it’s a place with something for the whole family. At the end of the pier is a rooftop area with views of the harbor, a great place to watch the sea lions and boats come in and out. You can sign up for fishing experiences and watch the fishing boats from here. Our kids love to watch the sea lions and visit the candy stores. Our favorite restaurant is Domenico’s. They have the best fresh crab and drawn butter!