Depending on your energy level there is sure to be something in the following recommendations that tickles your fancy, and after all no one said you have to do it all!
Molera Big Sur Trail Rides
Choose from five horseback tours leading through almost every terrain found in Central California, from giant redwoods to the pounding Big Sur coast. Ride times start in the morning or at sunset. Riders must be at least 6 years old. Call for details on private rides. Andrew Molera State Park, Highway 1, Big Sur, 625-5486.
Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
A guided 80-minute trail ride leads through the stunning Del Monte Forest, past Cypress Point and onto the beach near Seal Rock, where pinnipeds and otters cavort. Don’t forget the camera. Group tours, riding lessons and pony rides also available for small children. 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, 624-2756.
Stonepine Resort and Equestrian Center
It feels like a world away at this lavish Carmel Valley resort built in the late 1930s by the Crocker banking family. Stonepine provides training in all equestrian disciplines and trail rides on 330 acres. 150 E. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 659-2245.
17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach
For the road cyclist, this is perhaps the Peninsula’s ultimate two-wheel trek. Enter at the Pacific Grove gate and hang a right to take the coastal route past some of the loveliest coastline in North America. The road will lead through the Pebble Beach golf courses and down to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Pacific Grove Gate at the intersection of 17-Mile Drive and Sunset.
Fort Ord Public Lands
This biking, hiking and horseback-riding paradise encompasses acres of gorgeous wetlands and woodlands. Pick up a map at local libraries or call the BLM Ranger office (394-8314) to arrange a tour. Popular trails can be accessed at Gigling, Old Reservation, and Toro Creek roads.
Monterey Peninsula Recreation Trail
Described by some as a “linear park,” the paved Recreational Trail is an ideal way to take in beautiful coastal views at your own pace. The former Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way meanders along the waterfront for 18 miles starting at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove and ending in Castroville. The trail is popular with pedestrians and rollerbladers, so watch your speed and stay in your lane. Pacific Grove to Castroville.
Old Coast Road
Off-road riders will find some of the area’s most rugged and scenic mountain trails along the 11-mile stretch that was once the main road from Carmel to Big Sur. Other good Big Sur spots for biking include Willow Creek, Plaskett Ridge, South Coast Ridge and the Ridge Trail in Andrew Molera State Park. Off Highway 1, Big Sur.
On a sunny weekend afternoon, there are few things more relaxing than cycling the farm roads around the Salinas Valley lettuce fields. The sky is enormous, the roads are flat and the only thing you’ll hear is the sound of romaine growing. Off Highway 68 at Reservation or Spreckels.
Toro County Park
More than 20 miles of well-maintained trails wind through the county’s second-largest mountain-biking area, which is also a popular hiking destination. Off-road fanatics rave about the fast downhills and the plenitude of single-track trails. The summit area provides sweeping vistas of the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley. Highway 68, Salinas, 484-1108.
Aquarian Bicycles (voted best bike shop by Monterey County Weekly’s 2007 readers’ poll) | 486 Washington, Monterey, 375-2144
Carmel Bicycle | Valley Hills Center, Carmel Valley, 625-2211
Joselyn’s Bicycles | 398 E. Franklin, Monterey, 649-8520Sports Center Bicycles | 1576 Del Monte, Seaside, 899-1300
Adventures by the Sea | 299 Cannery Row, Monterey, 372-1807
Bay Bikes | 585 Cannery Row, Monterey, 655-2453
Garrapata State Beach
On the south end of Garrapata, a series of 15- to 20-foot cliffs rising from the sandy beach offer a great chance for beginners and more advanced climbers to hone their climbing skills. Highway 1, six miles south of Carmel.
Pinnacles National Monument
Primeval spires and volcanic crags offer a range of challenges to serious rock climbers in an otherworldly, thoroughly fascinating locale. Pinnacles also offers great hiking and cave exploring. Highway 146 (west entrance), east of Soledad, 389-4485. East to Hollister, south on 25, east on 146 to east entrance.
Sanctuary Rock Gym
If the weather’s bad, try indoor climbing at Sanctuary Rock Gym, where more than 5,000 square feet of indoor sculpted climbing terrain and a 30-foot faux-rock peak await. Retail shop, rock climbing classes and trips available. 1855A East, Sand City, 899-2595. http://www.rockgym.com.
Big 5 Sporting Goods | 1000 Northridge Shopping Center, Salinas, 449-6767 2259 N. Fremont Blvd., Monterey, 375-8800
Outdoor World | 2222 N. Fremont Blvd., 373-3615
Sailing ~ Fishing ~ Whale Watching
The fishing in this area is world-renowned, and passengers aboard whale-watching vessels are treated year-round to glimpses of gray, blue and humpback whales and huge pods of dolphins. Most depart from Fisherman’s Wharf. Follows is a selection of providers:
- Central Coast Fly Fishing | Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 626-6586
- Elkhorn Slough Safari | 1700 Elkhorn, Watsonville, 728-2822, 633-5555
- Monterey Bay Whale Watch | 84 Fisherman’s Wharf No. 1, Monterey, 375-4658
- Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club | Municipal Wharf 2, Monterey, 372-9686
- Monterey Sailing | Fisherman’s Wharf 1, Monterey, 372-SAIL (7245)
- Monterey Sport Fishing and Whale Watching | 96 Fisherman’s Wharf No. 1, Monterey, 372-2203, 800-200-2203
- Randy’s Fishing Trips | Fisherman’s Wharf No. 1, 372-7440
- Sam’s Fishing Fleet, Inc. | Fisherman’s Wharf No. 1, Monterey, 372-0577
- Sanctuary Whale Watching Cruises | A Dock, Moss Landing, 917-1042
- Sea Life Tours | Fisherman’s Wharf No. 1, 372-7151
- Tom’s Sport Fishing | Moss Landing Harbor, 633-2564
Several outfitters rent kayaks for a spin around the bay. Contact Monterey Bay Kayaks, 693 Del Monte Ave. T: 800-649-5357 or 831-373-5357; http://www.montereykayaks.com), on Del Monte Beach north of Fisherman's Wharf, which offers instruction as well as natural-history tours that introduce visitors to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and nearby Elkhorn Slough, one of the last remaining estuaries in California. Prices start at $55 for the tours, from $30 for rentals.
For bike rentals, as well as kayak tours and rentals, contact Adventures by the Sea, 299 Cannery Row T: 831-372-1807 or 831-648-7235), at the Doubletree Hotel. http://www.adventuresbythesea.com). Bikes cost $6 per hour or $24 per day, and kayaks are $30 per person or $50 for a 2 1/2-hour tour. Adventures by the Sea also has another location at 201 Alvarado Mall.
Experienced scuba divers can contact Monterey Bay Dive Center, 225 Cannery Row T: 800-60-SCUBA or 831-656-0454; http://www.montereyscubadiving.com), which arranges personal dives with a dive master and has scheduled weekend dives. Aquarius Dive Shop, 2040 Del Monte Ave. T: 831-375-1933; www.aquariusdivers.com, also has regularly scheduled trips and dive masters. Certification cards are required.
If the kids need to let off some steam, take them to the Dennis the Menace Playground at Camino El Estero and Del Monte Avenue, near Lake Estero T:831-646-3860, an old-fashioned playground created by Pacific Grove resident and cartoonist Hank Ketcham. It has bridges, tunnels, and an authentic Southern Pacific Railroad engine teeming with wannabe conductors. There's also a hot-dog-and-burger stand, and a big lake where you can rent paddleboats or feed the ducks. The park is open daily from 10am to sunset.