For those seeking rest and rejuvenation, Monterey County delivers all the goods. With five-star resorts, world-class golf, acclaimed wineries and stunning landscapes, visitors can do as much—or as little—as they like and leave feeling pampered and renewed. Indulge in a spa treatment, lounge by the pool, or watch the sun set with a cocktail in hand.
For ultimate relaxation, plan to stay at Casa Palmero, Pebble Beach’s most exclusive inn. Its courtyards, fountains and gardens are reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa, and the personalized concierge service makes life easy.
Resort Life, Spa and Golf
This day is all about soaking up the sumptuous, unhurried surroundings at Casa Palmero. It begins when your breakfast basket is delivered to your room, where you can linger over coffee and enjoy the morning sun. There’s no need to rush anywhere: The property has everything you need for a complete morning of relaxation, whether it’s basking next to the heated outdoor pool or curling up with a book in the well-appointed living room. (This boutique lodging was once a private mansion, after all.)
After lunch, step next door to the 22,000-square-foot The Spa at Pebble Beach. Indulge in the signature purification scrub, wrap and a massage that uses white sage, elderberry and blue cornmeal. Or try the 3.5-hour “A Walk in the Forest” treatment that combines a citrus-seagrass scrub, massage and custom facial.
Alternatively, you could play 18 holes at Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the world’s iconic courses, spread between the rugged coastline and the Del Monte Forest. As a guest of Casa Palmero, you also have access to The Beach & Tennis Club, as well as The Spanish Bay Club, both with lap pools.
Before dinner, sip a craft cocktail at Casa Palmero’s complimentary happy hour, offered every evening from 5 to 7 p.m. Then walk to The Lodge at Pebble Beach for dinner at The Bench, where the patio and glass-enclosed interior space overlook Pebble Beach’s famous 18th hole. The casual-but-refined menu includes flatbreads from the pizza oven, pan-seared salmon and wood-grilled hanger steak.
Carmel Valley Pleasures
It’s a short drive to Carmel Valley along pastoral Carmel Valley Road to Refuge, a relaxation spa for massage and European-style thermal therapy. Guests begin the “cycle” by warming up in the eucalyptus-oil steam bath, the dry sauna, or one of the six warm-water spas, then cool off with a Nordic cold plunge. Afterward, you can relax in an Adirondack chair next to the fire pit or indoors in one of the zero-gravity chairs.
Continue east on Carmel Valley Road for lunch at Lucia, Bernardus Lodge’s celebrated restaurant. The lunch menu is California wine-country casual, with dishes such as grilled salmon or roasted Sonoma chicken breast accompanied by produce from the chef’s garden. After lunch, head to Carmel Valley with a designated driver for an afternoon of wine tasting. At the Bernardus tasting room, you can sample pinot noirs, chardonnays and the winery’s signature Marinus blend. Down the road, Folktale Winery pours flights in a setting reminiscent of a château from France’s Loire Valley.
You’ll want to be back at Pebble Beach in time for the ritual performed every evening since 1987, when the lone bagpiper roams The Links at Spanish Bay, accompanying the sun as it sinks into the horizon. Toast your day over dinner at Pèppoli with a glass of Italian Antinori wine and Tuscan-style cuisine.
Big Sur in a Classic Convertible
Prepare to chill out, Big Sur style. Start by picking up your ride for the day from Monterey Touring Vehicles. Choose from a fleet of classic autos, like a convertible 1982 Fiat Spider 2000 or 1955 Ford Thunderbird. Both cars will hug the curves while offering unobstructed views of the coast. Tour 17-Mile Drive (keep your eye out for the Lone Cypress) before continuing south on Highway 1 to Big Sur.
Stop for lunch at Nepenthe, perched at the edge of the continent with views down the coast that go for miles. Its famous Ambrosia burger has been on the menu for 70 years, ever since the Fassett family—who still own and run Nepenthe—opened its doors. Or take a patio seat at nearby Sur House at Ventana Big Sur, overlooking the Pacific on one side and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other. Savor the potato-crusted lingcod or fried-chicken sandwich with a front-row seat to nature’s grandeur.
Less than 1.5 miles south, the Henry Miller Library pays homage to a literary giant and one of Big Sur’s most famous residents. On your way back to Pebble Beach, make time for a leisurely stroll at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, often called the “crown jewel” of California’s state parks. Then top off your day with a fairy-tale evening in Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you can browse galleries and shops on Ocean Avenue before savoring dinner at Grasing’s or the eight-course tasting menu at Aubergine.
Extend Your Stay
Wine, Art and More Golf
Monterey County is renowned for its golf courses, and your options don’t end at Pebble Beach. Consider spending more time in sunny, serene Carmel Valley. Quail Lodge & Golf Club has been a destination for pros and amateurs alike since it opened in 1964 on the site of a former dairy farm. Guests can play the 6,500-yard, par-71, 18-hole course, hone their short game on the nine-hole putting green, or take a lesson from one of the pros. Less than four miles east, off of Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course is home to the only bent-grass course in Northern California created by famed designer Pete Dye. The par-70, 18-hole course meanders through lavender fields, vineyards and oak forests. It’s not unusual to pause your game while wild turkeys wander over the green.
With almost 20 tasting rooms in Carmel Valley, take the opportunity to visit a couple more, such as Joyce Vineyards or Twisted Roots. And just across from Joyce Vineyards, wine and necktie tycoon Robb Talbott has assembled an impressive collection of more than 170 motorcycles from 16 countries at the Moto Talbott Museum. For art lovers, Carmel Valley Village is home to several first-rate galleries, including Rolf Lygren, Barbara Codd and Patricia Qualls, whose large-scale abstracts are in national collections across the country.