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.

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.

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–Visit Candy Cane Lane in Pacific Grove

There’s a neighborhood in Pacific Grove, that transforms itself during the holiday season and is known as “Candy Cane Lane”. The neighbors have had a long-time tradition of decorating their houses and yards to the hilt, which has resulted in a magical place to walk around with your sweetheart and your family.

The residents make Candy Cane Lane a wonderful little Christmas fantasy land. There are plenty of lights, of course, and also mechanized displays, plywood and 3-D characters (both traditional and cartoon). In the park are some shared attractions, like little clapboard kiddie houses and a look-only ferris wheel. Some displays are traditional, while some are not (Elvis and the Justice League), but it’s all wonderful.

Bundle up your little ones and take them on a December evening. They’ll remember it their whole lives. Here’s a video to help you see what it’s all about.

Candy Cane Lane can be found off Hwy. 68/Forrest Avenue at Morse Drive in Pacific Grove. Parking is very limited and if you decide to drive around, please be very careful of all the little ones walking around, distracted by the yard displays.

Insiders’s Tip: There is less traffic during the 6:00 – 7:00 PM dinner hour. Park your car at the nearby school and enjoy the walk around the neighborhood.

What The Locals Know–November Food & Wine Events

If you’re interested in wine, don’t miss The Great Wine Escape Weekend, November 12 – 14, 2010. The Great Wine Escape Weekend is the food and wine event of the year for Monterey County , which in 2009 featured over 50 Monterey wineries, local and national celebrity chefs, and the ultimate travel experience in the beautiful setting of Monterey Wine Country.

Events throughout the weekend include wine and food pairing sessions, wine country open houses and tours, a hidden gem and boutique wine tasting, over 25 winemaker dinners by world-renowned chefs and The Great Wine Escape Grand Finale on Sunday at the Intercontinental the Clement Monterey.

The first day, Friday, November 12, will offer winery open houses, barrel tastings and appetizers, and a winemaker’s dinner. The second day, Saturday, November 13, will offer more winery open houses, a behind-the-scenes winemaking “boot camp”, pairing and tasting events, as well as another winemaker’s dinner. If you aren’t wined out by Sunday, November 14, the event’s third day, you’ll get to visit the winery open houses you missed, and top it off with a culinary showcase at the Clement hotel.

We believe that Bacchus, the god of wine and intoxication, would be proud of this event!

Insider’s Tip: You’ll save money and have more fun if you get the weekend pass. Email jrosenau@montereywines.org, call 831.375.9400 or visit www.montereywines.org for details.

What The Locals Know–Dancing and Dining at American Burger

Tonight, Friday, November 12, 2010, we will hold the very first West Coast Swing Dance and Dine from 7:30 – 10:00 PM, for just $15.00–which includes dancing and a special menu! Here’s the story behind it:

Jose Miguel and his family own the American Burger restaurant at 738 Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey, between Prescott and Irving, across from Gianni’s Pizza. Locals are starting to take notice of this Little-Burger-Joint-That-Could because Jose Miguel has a knack for good marketing that matches the tastiness of his burgers.

For example, Jose Miguel loves to dance, sing, and play music, but he has little time to do it all since he’s busy running a family restaurant. The solution? Bring the dance classes, social dances and musicians to his restaurant!

You may now find Argentine Tango at American Burger on Mondays, Salsa dance classes on Wednesdays, a West Coast Swing social dance on the second Friday of each month (starting November 12), and Latin social dancing every Saturday.

Let this lesson be learned by crafty businesses owners….How can you combine your passions under one roof? Jose Miguel’s solution is this: offer a Dance and Dine package of only $15.00 per person for each night there’s dancing. That means the following: You can Dance and Dine for $15.00 each person on Mondays if you like Argentine Tango, Wednesdays if you like Salsa, Fridays for WCS, and Saturdays for Latin dancing. Brilliant!

Insider’s Tip: Call American Burger at (831) 373-7573 for dance event information and directions. Depending on the dance crowd, American Burger may stay open later if there’s a good number of dancers still on the dance floor.

What The Locals Know–Halloween Events

Autumn is a fabulous time of year and October hops along with harvest festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes for the whole family.  The climax at the end of October is, of course, Halloween, the second highest grossing holiday of the year.
Here is a link to various locations that celebrate Halloween all month long:  http://www.mbaykids.com/Halloween.asp.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium will host its annual Halloween party on Oct. 30 for its members.
The Lighthouse District will also host its Second Annual Children’s Trick-Or-Treat on Lighthouse from 3:00 – 5:00 pm.
Insider’s tip:  Even though there are numerous crosswalk personnel, drivers be AWARE and EXTRA careful when driving along Lighthouse that Saturday!
For adults, there aren’t that many events being promoted at press time, but here’s an insider’s tip:  Keep an eye out for event postings in the Monterey County Weekly and the Go! Calendar inside the Monterey Herald newspapers.
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