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Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur Visitor Guide

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Destination: Monterey, Santa Cruz, Carmel, Big Sur Featured Hotel: Ventana Inn and Spa




It's an incredible drive along Highway 1 from Santa Barbara heading north through Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Here's a panoramic view of the famous Bixby Bridge, not far from the Ventana Inn and Spa.

bixby bridge big sur panorama

This spot is so incredibly beautiful that we had to shoot it twice. Here's a slightly different perspective from right nearby.

big sur panorama

Continuing 13 miles to the north will put you in the lovely resort town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Carmel is a beachside community with lots of art galleries and a nice selection of places to stay, including the Highlands Inn Park Hyatt, the Carriage House Inn, Carmel Inn and Suites, Wayside Inn, and Dolphin Inn. The famous Pebble Beach golf course is right nearby. (See our interactive Carmel Hotel Map).

carmel by the sea panorama

There are some great places just outside of town, too, including the Carmel Valley Ranch Resort.

carmel by the sea panorama

Continuing up Highway 1 another 12 miles, we arrive in Monterey, home of the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and is home to the Monterey Jazz Festival. Centrally located hotels include the Marriott Monterey, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, Hotel Pacific, Spindrift Inn, and the Hyatt Regency Monterey. (See our interactive Monterey Hotel Map).

monterey fisherman's wharf panorama

Continuing the northward journey towards San Francisco, the next stop is Santa Cruz, where you'll find the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as well as the University of California Santa Cruz campus. Hotel selections in Santa Cruz include the Chaminade Resort & Spa, and the Best Western All Suite Inn. (See our interactive Santa Cruz Hotel Map).

santa cruz boardwalk