Who knows Monterey best? Locals do. We asked locals what they love most about Monterey County. Whether you are a resident looking for new spots or a visitor looking for some local gems, meet our Monterey locals and hear their recommendations of the best things to do. Every month we will share favorite local spots to eat, shop, drink and explore outdoors in our series, Inside Monterey.

Explore an unknown side of Monterey County and get the inside scoop from the people who live here to start adding these local favorites to your next itinerary.

As we celebrate Pride Month, we're excited to introduce Crystal Libby, a passionate advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and Monterey County resident. Crystal's dedication to equality and inclusivity embody the essence of Pride. We honor Crystal Libby, whose efforts make the world a more accepting place for everyone.

Meet Crystal Libby

Inside Monterey with Crystal Libby, Intro

Crystal, a Corporate Trainer and an LGBTQIA+ activist, has called Monterey County home for six wonderful years. Her connection to this beautiful area runs deep; She has been visiting regularly since she was six. A dream opportunity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium inspired her to move to the Monterey Bay area. Crystal vividly remembers her first day when she had the incredible experience of petting a sea otter in the aquarium's veterinarian's office—a moment she cherishes to this day.

What Inspires You?

I have dedicated my career to developing customized training materials and leading training programs for various companies and organizations. I was thrilled to be able to bring this expertise to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and, later, Pebble Beach Resorts. The opportunity to expand into LGBTQIA+ activism came when the Monterey Women Lawyer’s Association invited me to conduct training for their members on transgender education and etiquette, given the increasing prominence of transgender legal concerns in the legal world. One of my most rewarding moments occurred at the end of my first gender inclusivity training when a gentleman approached me and said, "You changed my mind.'"

Queer Edge Solutions, Crystal Libby

After leading training sessions on LGBTQIA+ issues and gender inclusivity, I founded Queer Edge Consulting. I now provide updated educational materials and courses to ensure understanding and awareness of these important topics remains impactful.

Balancing my role as a corporate trainer at Pebble Beach Resorts with my commitment to Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations  is challenging, as my VP duties often mirror the demands of a full-time job. However, the rewarding nature of our work and the visible effect we have within the LGBTQIA+ community keeps me motivated. It’s a labor of love to which I am deeply committed. 

What are the Most Effective Strategies for Fostering Inclusivity & Diversity in Corporate Environments?

In my experience, the most effective strategy for fostering inclusivity and diversity in corporate environments is visibility. At Pebble Beach Resort, I took the initiative to include my preferred pronouns in my email signature. I noticed others following suit. I also actively encourage open discussions about LGBTQIA+ activities, as I believe it's crucial for creating an environment where others feel safe to express their identities. This visibility and open discussions have not only encouraged others to be open but have also fostered a more inclusive workspace, which I believe is a significant step towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Can You Share Upcoming Initiatives Salinas Valley Pride is Excited For and How the Community Can Get Involved?

Salinas Valley Pride 2022 Inside Monterey Crystal Libby

Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations is excited about our Safe Space Program, which was launched last year. This initiative allows Monterey County businesses to self-identify as allies by signing a “Safe Space Pledge” and displaying a sticker with the progress flag. This simple act signals to the queer community that they are welcome and safe. We encourage local business owners to join this program by signing the pledge on our website, receiving their decals, and being listed in our online directory of LGBTQIA+ Friendly Businesses and Organizations. 

Favorite Thing About Living in Monterey County

I love that the area feels small enough that anywhere I go, I will see people I know. At the same time, it is big in that it is an integral part of the world known for its fantastic ocean life. We have brought the topic of ocean conservation to the forefront. We have unique microclimates that can host vineyards growing grapes for wine that rival the Rhone wineries of Switzerland and France, and we have the most beautiful coast in all of California. Monterey is a small town that’s a big deal. 

Favorite Outdoor Activities & Scenic Locations in Monterey County

Fort Ord Dunes State Park in Marina

As a trainer at Pebble Beach Resorts, I would be remiss not to bring up the magnificent golf courses across Monterey County. My first round of golf ever was on Pebble Beach Golf Links, and I have fallen in love with the sport. I also take part in the Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations, where we collaborate with Cal Parks for the "Pride In Our Parks" events held multiple times a year. During these events, we work in the Fort Ord Dunes State Park, planting native flora and removing invasive plants. It has been a refreshing and vitalizing experience to socialize with the LGBTQIA+ community outdoors while enhancing the beautiful parks.

Favorite Local Restaurants in Monterey County

The Butter House seaside restaurant

The Toro Place Cafe in Salinas is a magnificent diner known for its delicious cinnamon rolls. The owner is an openly gay man who is a terrific philanthropist and a fantastic host of community events. In Pacific Grove, PG Juice n' Java is one of the only coffee shops with spattering sofas and armchairs, providing a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for reading, writing, or hanging out with friends. The Butter House in Seaside is a perfect place for brunch with its array of mimosa flavors.

Favorite Way to Spend A Weekend Off in Monterey County

I am a huge fan of small bookstores, and my favorite in the county is Downtown Book & Sound in Salinas. They are open late, which I love, and happily will order any books that they don’t already have in stock. The owner, Trish, always sets up a fantastic LGBTQIA+ display in her window each Pride Month to feature queer authors and subjects.  

Kayaking in Moss Landing offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the Elkhorn Slough, one of California's largest wetlands. Here, you can see otters, seals, and various bird species in their natural habitat.  

For those who enjoy unique sports, playing disc golf at the CSUMB (California State University, Monterey Bay) course provides a fun and challenging experience with stunning views of the campus and surrounding areas.  

Watching the sunset from Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea is a breathtaking experience. The picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean, combined with the charming ambiance of the town, make it a perfect way to end the day. 

Favorite Historical Sites or Museums

John Steinbeck's novel "East of Eden" photographed at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California.

Monterey County has a vibrant literary history. John Steinbeck, one of America's most famous authors, was born in Salinas. A visit to the National Steinbeck Center is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in his life and works. The Center offers an in-depth look into Steinbeck's novels, including the iconic "The Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden," both set in and around Monterey County. Also, don't miss the chance to dine at The Steinbeck House in Salinas, where the author was born and raised. It's not just a restaurant; it's a living museum dedicated to his life and legacy. 

Robert Louis Stevenson, the famed author of "Treasure Island" and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," also has a special connection to Monterey. Stevenson spent several months in Monterey in 1879, recovering from an illness and gathering inspiration for his writing. You can visit the Robert Louis Stevenson House, a museum dedicated to his life and works, which provides a fascinating glimpse into his time in Monterey. Additionally, Stevenson based the setting of "Treasure Island" on the coast of Pebble Beach. This connection is honored at Spyglass Hill Golf Course, where all the holes are named after elements from "Treasure Island." 

The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History offers insights into the area's rich natural heritage, featuring exhibits on local wildlife, geology, and Native American history. It's an excellent place for both locals and visitors to deepen their understanding of the natural world in Monterey County. 

Step outside Alta Bakery & Cafe and you can explore beautifully maintained historical gardens that date back to the early days of Monterey. These gardens, providing a serene and picturesque setting, are perfect for a relaxing stroll or a quiet moment of reflection. 

The Monterey Museum of Art showcases a diverse collection of works focusing on California artists. The museum's exhibitions span various periods and styles, offering a rich cultural experience for art enthusiasts. 

Monterey County also hosts several literary events and festivals, making it a haven for book lovers and a significant part of California's literary landscape.