Marina, Seaside and Sand City Itinerary
The towns of Marina, Seaside and Sand City have become a hub for adventure activities, interesting food and fantastic art, combining a "SoHo West" feel with the peace of seaside life. All three are located right on the water, so visitors can walk straight from a loft-style artist's gallery over to the beach for some parasailing, and then head back over the dunes for a drink while admiring the sunset.
The local artists' scene is concentrated in Sand City. Once a factory district in which sand was made and processed (hence the name), its industrial areas later became a popular place for artists to work and (not quite legally) live. Rather than kicking out these artists, Sand City decided to support them and legalize their live-work lofts, and now the tiny town of 310 is packed wall-to-wall with resident artists. Check the Sand City website for a list of artists and galleries.
Grab a drink before dinner at Sand City's crown jewel, Post No Bills. The unassuming watering hole is home to all sorts of hard-to-find beers, wines, hard ciders and craft sodas.
Dinner tonight will show off some of the best pasta and seafood dishes on the peninsula at Pacifica Cafe in Seaside. The restaurant, tucked away inside Embassy Suites, sets a unique vibe with its 1,000 gallon saltwater aquarium.
It's an early morning. If you're a surfer, it's time to head over to Marina State Beach and catch some waves. If you prefer golf, head over to Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course for a quick breakfast and 36 holes with a fascinating history. Originally the on-base golf course for the Army's Fort Ord, one section of these courses was designed around a general's notorious slice, and has earned the nickname "Combat Corner." If you find yourself in the rough, take solace in the glorious view of Monterey Bay you'll get as you try to find your ball.
Pick up a gourmet sandwich or signature salad at Wild Thyme Deli and Cafe for lunch. Chef and owner Terry Teplitsky is known throughout the community for his fresh ingredients and fantastic catering.
Once lunch has settled head on over to the Marina Airport. Today you will experience views of the Monterey Bay that not many have encountered. Skydive Monterey Bay will take you on a tandem jump at 18,000 feet for incredible views seen at 120 mph. Cowabunga!
Head on up to the Sanctuary Beach Resort, a series of beachy gray buildings tucked away in Marina's sand dunes, right by the beach. A Nirvana massage at their spa will be sure to dispel any lingering soreness.
If you haven't been turned to water by that massage, head over to Marina State Beach and achieve instant tranquility. This beach is known for its sand dunes, which reach heights rarely seen on the coast of California and provide a home to unique birds, plants and animals. The well-marked Dune Nature Trail has signs throughout explaining the various features and creatures you'll find along the way. Depending on the season, you'll either be able to feast your eyes on the antics of hang gliders, who launch from an area directly south of the parking lot, or sit with the locals and check out Marina's hottest evening show - its breathtaking sunsets.
Have a drink and a bite by the beach at Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse. The lower patio has great fire pits and glass barriers that provide shelter from the sea breeze, but the upper patio has fantastic views of the beach and dunes; you'll be able to see all the way to Monterey and Pacific Grove.
Pick up a to-go breakfast at Coffee Mia and bring it down to the beach at Sand City. Marina State Beach is the hang glider's beach of choice; Sand City, on the other hand, is the place where all the paragliders take to the air. Sit and soak in the sea air and the soaring flyers, and let the tranquility permeate you. The sense of serenity (and your breakfast) will sustain you as you head home.