What The Locals Know–Where To Work Out

Whether we are looking to exercise while on Christmas vacation, or whether we’re planning on making regular exercise as part of our New Year’s Resolutions, there are plenty of places to exercise on the Monterey Peninsula.


Gyms:
In-Shape is a fairly new health club chain that has opened 2 locations in the Monterey Peninsula.  The Monterey facility is located at 2370 Fremont Street, Monterey, CA 93940-5407 (831) 333-1835.  The Pacific Grove facility is located at 1146 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, (831) 649-2348.  Call each facility for daily operating hours.


Monterey Sports Center is city-owned and -operated by the City of Monterey.  It’s beautiful and very affordable for drop-in, out-of-town guests, and it has a large pool area, cardio room, basketball court, weight room, exercise classes, and well-tended locker rooms.  Monterey Sports Center is located in downtown Monterey at 301 East Franklin Street, Monterey, CA 93940-3044, (831) 646-3730.  Call for daily operating hours.


Outdoors:
The Recreation Trail is a very popular destination for walkers, runners, and bikers, for this coastal trail offers gorgeous views of the Monterey Bay.  The Rec Trail goes all the way from Asilomar State Beach to Marina, so you have plenty of entry and exit points from which to choose.  Just park somewhere near the water’s edge and start your nice, long stroll.


El Estero Park has many areas of diversion for the whole family.  From walking around or paddle boating within El Estero Lake, to playing with the little ones in Dennis the Menace Park…from picnicking by the lake to skateboarding in a safety zone, El Estero Park is a popular family destination.


Monterey County’s Beaches are lovely and there’s something for everyone.  Get close to the sea lions at the Coast Guard Pier at San Carlos Beach at the foot of Cannery Row in Monterey.  Take a nice, long beach walk and dream of owning your own condo on Del Monte Beach.  Surf or body board the beaches in Seaside, but be careful of the strong current.  Paragliders and kite aficionados can be found along the windy shores of Marina’s beaches.  They’re all lovely and they all beckon you to come over for a visit.


The golf course at the end of Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove is known as the Pacific Grove Golf Links, and it’s an incredible bargain considering its location by the ocean.  Rated as one of the best golf courses under $50, it’s a must-see for golfers who don’t want to pay the higher rates at Pebble Beach.
Scuba Diving is very popular around Monterey Bay, due to the fact that it’s a national marine reserve.  If you’re okay with diving in cool water temperatures from 50 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll love this region of gorgeous dives.  Popular dive sites include Breakwater at San Carlos Beach for diving newbies, right by the Coast Guard Pier in Monday; night diving at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove; and doing the “Monastery Crawl” at Monastery Beach in Carmel–which can be extremely dangerous and is known by locals as Mortuary Beach.  The BEST diving can be found at Point Lobos in Carmel, but you’ll need to make reservations, for they only allow 15 dive teams per day.  Be warned, diving here is splendid, but DO NOT dive in poor diving conditions…regardless of how far you’ve traveled to dive here.  Dive smart!


Kayaking is tremendous fun and a great way to get some exercise on the water.  You can kayak out in Monterey Bay, or go inland down Elkhorn Slough by Moss Landing.  Either way, you are very likely to pull up close to sea birds, otters, sea lions, harbor seals, jellyfish, kelp, and fellow kayakers.


Paddle Boarding is a pretty cool new sport where a person stands up on a surf board and paddles around.  Paddle boarders get ripped abs and arms and say that it’s pretty easy once you’ve mastered balancing on the surf board.  There’s even a local paddle boarder who takes his dog along for a ride on the board.  So cool!  Paddle boarding lessons are available at Adventures By The Sea and gear is available at Monterey Bay Kayaks.


Bicycling is fun for all ages and there are plenty of places to bicycle around the Monterey Peninsula.  There are plenty of places to rent a bike if you don’t have your own, and the types of bike rides to choose from are endless.  Here is a link to several bike routes around town.  For novice bikers, choose the Recreation Trail.  For diehard mountain bikers, try some of the tougher trails up in the hills.  Just be careful of cars when you’re sharing the road–especially around blind corners or narrow mountain roadways.

What The Locals Know–Best Burgers

Surprisingly, some of the area’s best burgers are not found in traditional burger joints!

This, by no means, disrespects the great burgers found at Phat Burger on Del Monte Blvd. in Seaside, R.G. Burgers in Monterey (by Trader Joe’s) and Carmel (in the Crossroads Shopping Center), or American Burger on Lighthouse Ave. in Monterey.

Side note: American Burger on Lighthouse Ave. in Monterey gets separate bonus points because they offer Argentine Tango lessons there on Monday nights.

Honestly, I was surprised myself when I discovered these three restaurants had the most amazing, mouthwatering burgers:

1. Mauricio’s on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove (by Juice ‘n’ Java). This is a family-run establishment and we love their Avocado/Bacon/Cheeseburger. Don’t forget to order Mauricio’s special spinach salad, too!

2. Fresh Cream Restaurant at the NW Corner of Dolores and 8th in Carmel (by Adobe Inn). The burger will be found on Fresh Cream’s Lounge Menu, and if you go there between 4:30 and 6:30, they offer Happy Hour price breaks. Awesome!

3. And for the all-time most expensive burger you have ever eaten, try the Ambrosia Burger at Nepenthe’s down Hwy. 1 to Big Sur. Yes, it’s a great burger, and it is served up with the view of a lifetime! Sit on the patio, overlooking the most awe-inspiring view of the Pacific Ocean to be found anywhere, so you are paying for both the burger and the view. But once in a lifetime – why not?

Who knew?

Go try the burgers and see if you agree with us locals.

What The Locals Know–Off The Beaten Path

There are many treasures that locals know about that many tourists overlook. If you’re lucky enough to stay awhile and see more than the “must sees”, here are a few places to check out or things to do:

1. Kayak the Elkhorn Slough during the full moon.
2. Visit Tassajara in Carmel Valley.
3. Rent a kayak or bike down the rec trail right by the Monterey Plaza Hotel.
4. Visit Big Sur Bakery, grab a few pastries and drive 1/4 mile North up Hwy. 1 and turn left to go to Pfeiffer State Beach.
5. Visit Esalen south of Big Sur…but make sure you have a reservation!

Obviously there are more off-the-beaten-path places, but these should get you started for now. If you have a cool place to share, let us know and we’ll add it.

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