Monterey County’s ample assortment of meeting sites provide great spots to hold your next annual conference, board meeting or team retreat. And when the meetings end, explore this remarkable world-class destination and experience all of the activities the region has to offer. Create your own “workation” and add a few extra days to your business trip, or carve out time in-between meetings and business dinners. Whether you’re looking to wine and dine or adventure through the great outdoors, this storied area has everything you could possibly want. Below, we’ve rounded up what to add to your workation itinerary.
Book a Tour
For those only in town for a few extra days, a tour is a great way to get a taste of the local culture and explore specific interests. If you’re a foodie, opt for Carmel Food Tours. The tour operator, Carmel’s first and only food-oriented tour operator, has tours specializing in both breakfast and “classic” restaurants around the area that are oft-recommended and beloved by locals, such as Anton & Michel and Casanova Restaurant.
If experiencing the local wine is on your travel bucket list, Monterey Guided Wine Tours is a must. Experience the beauty of the peninsula while you sip varietals customized to your (and your group’s) tastes. Tours visit vineyards in Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley and Salinas Valley, depending on the package you choose, and can include a vineyard picnic lunch, a ride in a luxury vehicle and barrel samplings. Similarly, Cane & Spur offers tours of Carmel Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands. There’s also the Monterey Wine Trolley as another option for oenophiles. The trolleys (“Glory” and “Mona Lisa”) wind their way through Carmel Valley and include lunch at Roux Restaurant.
More into movies than wine? You’re in luck! Book a seat on Monterey Movie Tours, which will show you all of the regional spots where films were shot, from “Mutiny on the Bounty” to “National Velvet.”
Wine and Dine
If you’d rather set out on your own, you can’t go wrong with any of the county’s restaurants or wineries. The aforementioned Anton & Michel, established in 1980, has a menu boasting decadent plates like maple leaf duck breast and honey-thyme glazed salmon alongside a wide array of vino.
Esteban Restaurant at Casa Munras Hotel & Spa, meanwhile, is the place to be for tapas and seafood. Choose from a myriad of plates including pulpa confit, pulled pork empanadas and ahi tuna. Edgar’s is another must- located at Quail Lodge, expect dishes prepared lovingly with fresh, organic ingredients.
On the wine front, try Bargetto Winery, which has a tasting room on Cannery Row in Monterey. Dating back to 1933 (it has been run by the same family now for three generations), this winery is known for their pinots, which have earned top marks from “WineEnthusiast Magazine.” Boete Winery is also a must-see in Carmel Valley—try their cheval rouge, the winery’s signature blend.
You might also take to the ocean with Adventures by the Sea. Their kayaking adventures will have you exploring Monterey Bay in no time, while their paddle boarding experience is great for anyone looking to try out this trendy sport.
If you’re in search of something a little more relaxed, consider whale watching with a tour operator like Discovery Whale Watch. Depending on what time of year you’re in the area for a meeting, you might see humpback whales, blue whales or even a fin whale. If you want to see more than whales, there’s also Elkhorn Slough Safari, which promises to show you sea otters, seals and sea lions along the coast.
See an Icon
Of course, if you’re only in the area once a year for a conference, then seeing some of the most iconic attractions in the area is a necessity. Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed spots in the area (and for good reason). Stretching 260 feet above a canyon, it’s the perfect spot to capture a few souvenir photos with Big Sur’s rugged coastline in the background.
After crossing the bridge, head to Big Sur Village. Big Sur River Inn & Restaurant, located in the heart of the village, is the perfect place to unwind among the redwoods. Sit on their sun soaked deck and enjoy live music on Sundays, or one of their many flavorful menu offerings. You can also check out The Village Shops to seek out locally-made art at Local Color and view the exhibitions over at Studio One gallery.
As long as you’re driving around, consider coasting along 17-Mile Drive. This scenic stretch in Pebble Beach curves around the peninsula. Stop and marvel at the Lone Cypress, hit up Spanish Bay or just enjoy the drive.
Another world-famous attraction, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-see spot. From penguins to Pacific octopi to the species of Baja, you’ll see all variety of marine life here. For those who brought their families along for work travel, this can be a good option for the kids.
If you’re already in the area for the aquarium, then pay a visit to Cannery Row. This historical street has a little something for everyone—shoppers, foodies, families and more will all find something to their liking. Just like in Monterey County itself.