Today’s Central California Coast City Guide comes to us from Paige Whitmore Posladek, a writer and a blogger for Words on a Paige. Growing up along the central coast of California, the Monterey Bay and Big Sur areas are her oasis. She loves the local business community, exploring the coastline and hiking the picturesque mountains whenever she can. Today she offers some of the best this region has to offer in her Central Cali Coast guide. Thanks, Paige, for sharing this magical area with us! —Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump…
Monterey Bay Aquarium One of the largest aquariums in the world, it also has one of the best panoramic views of the bay. The seahorses and jellyfish exhibits are my favorite.
Monterey Museum of Art A unique showcase of art, including Motoi Yamamoto’s Saltworks. Definitely worth a walk through the gardens.
Fisherman’s Wharf Grab some clam chowder, go whale watching, and visit the old antique shops full of nautical treasures.
Farmer’s Market 3 1/2 city blocks of organic fruits and vegetables, delicious mexican food, and local artist vendors. Make sure to try the naan burritos.
The Wild Plum Cafe An organic cafe with delicious and unique salads and sandwich combinations. They also have a “lunch box” option, which is perfect to grab before you head down the Big Sur coast.
First Awakenings The best eggs benedict on the Central Coast. A breakfast spot with options for everyone, nestled inside the Old Tin Cannery.
1833 An adobe building that was once a pharmacy, the building dates back to 1833. It is now a cozy bar and restaurant, where you can enjoy you drink next to a fireplace or in the old apothecary. The Caramelized Endive Salad and the Pear Blossom cocktail are a must.
Paris Bakery A local favorite, this traditional French bakery has out-of-this-world pastries and perfect daily specials. The owner, Jackie, will walk you through his favorites and welcome you with a smile.
Parker-Lusseau Pastries Their Munras location is situated in historic Monterey. As you walk around and see the old State House, walk across the street and treat yourself to their mouth-watering tiramisu. Pick up a loaf of their homemade bread for a souvenir.
Lilify Artisan goods, local independent artist showcase, and a unique flower shop. A perfect place to pick up a souvenir you’ll actually want to display in your home.
Luna Blu Trading Co. A great little trading company in the heart of downtown Monterey with beautiful vintage and modern clothing.
Cannery Row Antique Mall The largest antique mall on the Central Coast, it houses thousands of treasures in the old Canning Company building. Pick up an old map of the Central Coast as a souvenir or unique canning antiques from the John Steinbeck days.
Neilson Bros. Market Local Produce and souvenirs. A local favorite and charming stop on your stroll through downtown.
The Carmel Plaza Window shopping at its best.
Carmel Pipe Shop Complete with strong tobacco and local men with cigars, the Pipe Shop is a full education in pipes and tobacco.
Knitting by the Sea A knitter’s Mecca. Yarn is stacked from floor to ceiling, a lot of which is woven locally.
The gorgeous grounds are covered in California history.
See a play at the Forest Theater. An outdoor theater in the trees, you can bring your own food and wine and relax while watching a classic musical.
Carmel Beach The most “beachy” of the beaches on the Central Coast, you can swim and relax on the smooth sand. Most of the beaches in the area are rocky and dangerous, but this is a safe and smooth beach to swim and surf.
The Cheese Shop The Cheese Shop is famous for smelly, mouth watering cheeses. Make sure to stop and try some of their well known cheeses, and join their Cheese of the Month club to keep the love comin.
Carmel Coffee Roasting Company Go to the Ocean Avenue location to see their vintage roaster in action. With no chain coffee shops in Carmel, CV Coffee Roasting Co. is the go-to place for creamy lattes and yummy pastries, with added charm and culture to boot.
La Bicyclette The cutest French cafe where the locals go to relax. Their butternut squash pizza and strawberry & walnut salad are perfect for a light lunch while strolling through the shops.
Baja Cantina A vibrant environment with the best margaritas around. I recommend their carnitas tacos, guacamole, and a margarita around the bonfire.
Pheonix Shop An eclectic variety of homemade jewelry and ceramics. Many of the artists work at the shop, so you may be buying your necklace from the creator.
Brooks Gallery A brilliant collection of furniture made from salvaged wood. Their coffee tables and counter tops are swoon worthy.
Big Sur Local Color A collection of local artists. Paintings, cookbooks, and sculptures cover the walls. A perfect place to pick up a photograph or a jar of jam to take home with you.
Big Sur Bakery A relaxing and genuine environment, their recipes are organic and full of flavor.
Big Sur Taphouse A large variety on tap and unique flavors in bottles.
Henry Miller Library The rustic library offers writing and screenwriting workshops, hosts concerts and events, including their folkYEAH series throughout the summer. Bring your blanket, a picnic, and listen to upcoming indie artists.
Horse Back Riding Tours See the famous coastline from the back of a horse. Cruise the beaches on a guided tour with plenty of history.
Take a hike (literally). Big Sur cannot be fully appreciated from a car ride–a hike is necessary to experience the diverse beauty of its nature. My favorites are the Ewoldsen Trail, Pfeiffer Falls, and
The Andrew Molera Loop.
Camping at Andrew Molera With plenty of campsites and easy access to the beach and hiking trails, Molera is the best campsite in Big Sur.
Lucia Lodge A quaint motel with panoramic views. Perfect for a weekend getaway or solo retreat.
Big Sur River Inn Staying in a log cabin, order ice cream out of an old school bus, sit and enjoy a glass of wine in the chairs nestled in the river.
Be sure to check out this Google Map with all of the above listings!
Notable locals: Clint Eastwood (he plays the piano in the bar at Mission Ranch once a month), Doris Day (she owns a hotel in Carmel),Beverly Cleary (lives in Carmel), John Steinbeck (lived and wrote about Monterey). A lot of celebrities have gotten married up here reccently–Ann Hathaway, Natalie Portman.