You always have plenty to see and do in Silicon Valley. But sometimes you just need to get out of town and off the grid. A drive to Monterey Bay can be just the fix. With views of the Pacific Ocean and untouched coastal landscapes along the Coast Highway, even the journey to Ocean Avenue—Carmel-by-the-Sea’s main street—is part of the adventure. You get there from Silicon Valley by taking US-101 South to CA-156 West to CA-1 South, or take the more scenic CA-17 South to CA-1 South.

Begin your day in the Monterey Bay area at La Bicyclette, arguably one of the best restaurants in Carmel. Toward the back of the restaurant, you’ll find a wood-fired oven where the staff prepares a handful of the breakfast plates. If you want a little taste of everything, you can’t go wrong with the Sweet & Savory dish: French toast and eggs—and don’t forget to order it with a side of bacon.

After you’ve filled your belly, grab a cup of caffeine from the Carmel Coffee & Cocoa Bar. You can easily spend the day taking a leisurely stroll and shopping in Carmel. It may be a small town, but the streets are jam-packed with boutiques and art galleries. One place truly worth visiting is the Cottage of Sweets, a candy shop straight out of a fairy tale that appeals to kids and adults alike.

If you’d prefer to get more exercise, head south on Highway 1. Head toward Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where you can take in the views and be as one with nature. The drive from Carmel through Point Lobos and continuing all the way to Big Sur is one of the most beautiful stretches of Highway 1.

Spend a couple hours exploring the park and its many hiking trails. When you’re done, it’s probably time for lunch, and you’ll want to make it a healthy meal. Drive back north on Highway 1 and into Pacific Grove, where you can replenish your body with a fresh cold-pressed juice at Central Coast Juicery. Then, grab a poke bowl at The Poke Lab a few blocks away in Monterey. These are great ways to replenish all those calories you worked off during your hike.

A trip to Monterey Bay is not complete without a visit to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. You’ll see real-life sea otters in action. For a preview, check out the video the Aquarium has posted on its website of a day-old wild pup with its mother. After you’ve toured the exhibits there, check out the shops on Cannery Row, a historic area made famous by author John Steinbeck. Then make your way to dinner at the nearby Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar for tasty Spanish fare and excellent wine choices. Call ahead to find out if paella will be featured. Otherwise, the eggplant fries, prosciutto plate, shawarma, and bullfighter’s steak are always superb.

If you’d rather enjoy your dinner in Carmel, stop in at Grasing’s to start off with a cocktail in an intimate setting. Then head over to Il Tegamino for a great homestyle Italian meal—the Ragu Napoletano is highly recommended. The Monterey Peninsula is world-famous for its many golf courses. Whether you’re a golfer or you just want to see what all the fuss is about, visit The Bench, a restaurant and bar overlooking Pebble Beach Golf Links. Enjoy some drinks and small plates, and take in the scenery at the famous 18th hole.

If you’re planning on staying the night, try a room at the Carmel Valley Ranch, which features a luxurious spa. Other amenities at this resort that make it worth your while are onsite beekeeping, s’mores at night for guests, and more, depending on the season.

Monterey Bay is a tranquil, incredibly scenic coastal destination. It’s easy to get to, provides a break from the buzz of Silicon Valley, and offers great food and drink. Head there once, and you’ll soon be making plans for your next trip back.

Places to Visit in Monterey

Dolores St at Seventh Ave
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
instagram: labicyclette_carmel
facebook: labicyclettecarmel
twitter: labicycletteca

Carmel Plaza, Ocean Ave and Mission St
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
facebook: carmelcoffeeandcocoa

Ocean Ave, between Lincoln St and Monte Verde St
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
instagram: cottageofsweets
facebook: cottageofsweets

62 CA Highway 1
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923

206 Forest Ave
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
instagram: centralcoastjuicery
facebook: centralcoastjuicery
twitter: ccoastjuicery

475 Alvarado Street
Monterey, CA 93940
instagram: thepokelab
facebook: thepokelab
twitter: pokelab

886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
instagram: montereybayaquarium
facebook: montereybayaquarium
twitter: montereyaq

542 Lighthouse Ave
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
instagram: jeninnikwb
facebook: jeninnikwb
twitter: jeninnikwb

Sixth Ave and Mission St
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923
facebook: grasings
twitter: grasings

Ocean Ave, between Lincoln St and Monte Verde St
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
instagram: il_tegamino
facebook: il.tegamino.carmel
twitter: il_tegamino

1700 17 Mile Dr
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
facebook: The Bench

1 Old Ranch Rd
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923
instagram: carmelvranch
facebook: carmelvalleyranch
twitter: carmelvranch

Article originally appeared in Issue 8.0 Explore