Super Bowl weekend getaway to the Monterey Peninsula

Itching for a change of scenery, my family and I made an impromptu trip to the Monterey Peninsula last weekend. My wife and I first met in Monterey while we were both in college, so it holds a special place in our heart. And I'm happy that we have passed our love of the Monterey Peninsula on to our daughters.

Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Monterey Marina

Sunday being Super Bowl LV, we expected uncrowded streets and beaches. But other people must have had the same idea, because we were definitely not the only visitors. Still, we made it work, stayed away from larger groups of people, and enjoyed the spectacular scenery.

Near Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

I took a lot of photos (no surprise) and will share them in a series of smaller posts in the weeks to come. This is a sneak peek.

The Monterey Peninsula juts out into the Pacific Ocean, with Monterey Bay on the northeast and Carmel Bay on the southeast. As a result, there are miles and miles of shoreline, both sandy and rocky. The three photos below were taken along 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.

Right now, there's another attraction, at least for plant lovers: The Aloe arborescens, which has naturalized across the Monterey Peninsula, is in bloom. The photos below were taken along Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove.

Lover's Point, Pacific Grove

Naturalized Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens closeup

We saw more Aloe arborescens, together with Agave attenuata and other succulents, at the Customs House Plaza in Monterey...

Aloe arborescens, variegated Agave americana, and Agave attenuata at Customs House Plaza in Monterey

...and at the Carmel Mission, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo:

Aloe arborescens at the Carmel Mission

Aloe arborescens at the Carmel Mission

The Carmel Mission was all but deserted, allowing me to enjoy the gardens in peace:

Agave attenuata (the species as well as the cultivars 'Ray of Light' and 'Boutin Blue') at the Carmel Mission

The most commonly seen group of succulents on the Monterey Peninsula must be aeoniums. They grow to impressive size in the mild climate and look very happy.

Aeoniums on Scenic Road in Carmel

Aeoniums in a planter outside a toy store in Carmel

Aeoniums and ×Mangave 'Kaleidoscope' at a private residence in Carmel

Most visitors, however, don't come to the Monterey Peninsula to see succulents. They come to see this:

The Lone Cypress, maybe the most photographed tree in the world, along 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. The likeness of the Lone Cypress is a registered trademark of the Pebble Beach Corporation, and photos of the tree cannot be used for commercial purposes. Legalistic overreach for sure!

On our way back home, we stopped at another California mission, Mission San Juan Bautista, located in the small town of San Juan Bautista about 30 miles northeast of Monterey:

Mission San Juan Bautista

This is a less visited mission, but it's a favorite of ours. The San Andreas Fault runs right along the mission. The mission also features prominently in Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film VertigoThe famous bell tower, which plays such a big role in the movie, doesn't really exist; it was built as a scale model at Paramount studio.

But succulents are never far away. Here's how the town of San Juan Bautista has blocked off its main street to cars and turned it into a pedestrian area:

And finally, a couple of maps that give you a better idea of where the Monterey Peninsula is and where Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel are located:

Look for more posts from the Monterey Peninsula in the weeks to come!

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  1. I love that area. My husband and I used to visit Carmel/Monterey once a year or so (before his dietary restrictions made travel a major hassle). We spent our honeymoon there and even considered retiring up that way at one time. I look forward to your posts.

    1. We once considered relocating there as well. It's a dreamy area, for sure.

  2. I reached for google maps immediately to get an idea of the scope your travel: how far is Davis from Monterey? It seems like quite a distance.
    I've traveled the scenic route from Seattle through San Francisco on the way to L.A. just once, some 3 decades ago, rarely stopping along the way. Looking back, I should have taken my time. Right now, visiting all those old missions and driving along the pacific coast sounds heavenly.

    1. It's a 3 1/2 hour drive from Davis, depending on traffic. Not too bad.

      I've been wanting to visit all the missions for many, many years. I still haven't seen them all. A good project for retirement--the missions will still be there then :-).

  3. Oh to get away! What a treat. A gorgeous area. Looks like real estate might be on the expensive side due to it's balmy ocean location. Look forward to further posts.

  4. Our last vacation (2019) was to that wonderful area. Looking forward to going back when things get better. You got some beautiful photos. Great you and your family were able to get away


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