Did you miss me? Yes, I know I said I’d be back in a week, but for the last month or so, life has been interesting. I’ll save the details for another post. Now let’s hit the road! The Pacific Coast Highway to be exact.
Heavenly Highway One
This Texas girl wasn’t crazy about life in California. During the six years I lived there, all I wanted to do was move back to Dallas. Now that I hang my hat in the Lone Star State, I do love visiting my old West Coast stomping grounds. Even though I didn’t love living there, I appreciate the scenery – especially on Highway One.
Every mile of the PCH is remarkable, but some miles are more remarkable than others. My favorite bit hugs Monterey Bay. When I lived on the Central Coast we would frequently drive the shorter inland route to Monterey and then return via the glorious Pacific Coast Highway. If we had to, we could make it home in time for bed – but we didn’t always hurry home.
Rooms By The Beach
One of our favorite places to stay back in the day was the Marina Dunes Resort. The resort has changed hands and is now called Sanctuary Beach Resort. The reviews suggest that it’s even better than it used to be. So, if you’re inspired to visit Highway One, Sanctuary Beach Resort would be a good place to start.
We love it because it’s very different from your usual hotel experience. When you check in, you’re assigned your own golf cart. You see, cars aren’t allowed down by the sandy beach where the rooms are. I have fond memories of those golf carts. On bright sunny days they’re a blessing, but they can also be a curse.
One night we arrived quite late and it was cold, rainy and windy. Thankfully we found the logistics of it all hysterical. We were drenched as we loaded the luggage from the car into the golf cart. Then we maneuvered the less than powerful cart through the thick darkness, because lights are frowned upon down at the beach, also. Had it been our first visit, we might have given up and moved to the Holiday Inn, but we knew what was waiting for us.
The rooms at the resort are elegant and comfortable – fireplaces, french doors to the beach and luxurious linens. One of those places where you’re tempted to just live in your room. On the cold, rainy, windy night we were also hungry and the weather discouraged going very far. So, we decided to eat at the hotel’s restaurant, which was all the way back up the hill near registration.
The golf cart almost didn’t make it. It was going so slow that Bill actually got out and pushed, while I kept my foot on the gas and steered. The hotel was all apologies when we finally got to registration and assigned us a new cart. That might have been the same stay where we woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a beach creature wandering around in our dresser.
If we still love the place, in spite of the faulty golf cart and the midnight invader, you can imagine how wonderful the place is. We’ve also stayed at the Holiday Inn in Seaside, just a few miles from the Sanctuary Beach Resort. The budget accommodations reminded us that you really do get what you pay for.
More Rooms By The Beach
This trip we didn’t stay in Marina or Seaside, because it was too early in the day and we were on a tight schedule – not so tight we couldn’t drop by Cannery Row. We love Cannery Row. Author John Steinbeck made it famous, but I doubt he’d recognize it today. The sardine canning facilities have been “re-purposed” and the whole area has been “re-vitalized”. I’m not sure that re-vitalized is the correct term. Maybe “tourist-ized” would be a better one. Still, we enjoy spending time there.
Our first stop was the grand old Monterey Plaza Hotel. We love this place and we refer people to it all the time. Funny thing is, we never stayed there. We fell in love with the resort in Marina and made it “our” place, but we’ve always promised ourselves that we’re going to correct the oversight.
Monterey Plaza Hotel is right on the bay, but it’s beach is rocky rather than sandy. Of the two resorts, I’d say MPH has the more dramatic views. The rooms aren’t on the beach, they are overlooking the ocean. It’s also a part of Cannery Row, more congested and busy than Marina. Though both hotels give you a great peek at nature, MPH has a lot more wildlife and nightlife. I don’t say any of that to criticize MPH, it’s a great hotel. I’m just trying to give you a feel for the differences.
Here’s my confession – the main reason we dropped into the MPH was to use the restroom. In fact, that’s the only thing we ever do at MPH. We park near by, stroll the the hotel and hang out on the balcony, but so far we’ve never so much as ordered a drink in the bar. Still, we’ve sent them so much business that we don’t even feel guilty.
You Can’t Lose
The bottom line is that you should go visit Monterey and both of these places are wonderful. In fact, you should go and stay at both and then tell me which one you liked best.
After our MPH potty stop we did spend a few hours hanging out on Cannery Row. Come back next week and I’ll tell you about it. I promise – my sabbatical is over and I will be here next week.