The Enchantment of Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea, from San Francisco and San Jose
You don't want to leave the Bay Area without experiencing the spectacular Monterey Peninsula. Carmel is "a storybook hamlet in a forest" with an historic and uniquely designed Spanish mission church and a hundred art galleries. Monterey offers a world-class aquarium/research center. In between there's the famed 17-Mile Drive, including Pebble Beach Golf & Resort...otters playing in the surf, trees shaped by the wind, monarch butterflies returning every year to restore themselves before flying back to Canada. The region inspired John Steinbeck, Thomas Kincaid, Clint Eastwood, Doris Day. We usually include an hour's drive down to the iconic Bixby Bridge, stopping several times for panoramic vistas, then returning to Carmel or the Aquarium, so that you have time to explore them on your own.
Spectacular Seventeen-Mile Drive, its dramatic views of the ocean, plus sometimes otters, pelicans...whales
The world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, or historic Old Town…or not
The storybook village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, its nearly one hundred art galleries, unique architecture, tasting rooms, white-sand beach
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, its renowned golf course
Pacific Grove (home of the monarch butterfly), its beautiful oceanfront boulevard and Victorian cottages
250-year-old Spanish Mission & museum (gravesite of newly sainted Junipero Serra)
Early Dinner*** at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch resort in Carmel or the renowned Pacific Edge restaurant: both have truly unforgettable vistas of the Ocean
Big Sur's fabled panoramas and the one of only 3 on the planet McWay Falls— optional Add-On's
Multi-Day Tour Option: Stay overnight in Carmel, Monterey, Pebble Beach or Big Sur village. This option allows for more time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, in the galleries and upscale shops of Carmel-by-the-Sea, at the wineries of Carmel Valley, for a leisurely dinner or brunch, for hiking along the coast, learning more about John Steinbeck, the Salad Bowl of the World or the pre-Gold Rush history of California...so many ways to re/create!
A FREQUENT ITINERARY Following a scenic two-hour drive from San Francisco, we arrive in lively Monterey. There we cruise along family-friendly Cannery Row. Your choices there...visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, among the world's best--the playful otters and luminescent jellyfish will enthrall you--or maybe you'd prefer to continue to ocean views. Enjoy the colorful Victorian cottages of Pacific Grove, winter home of magical monarch butterflies. Then rolling along the famous Seventeen-Mile-Drive, let's stop several times to appreciate the Lone Cypress (the most photographed tree in the world) and dramatic vistas. At Pebble Beach Lodge & Resort, you may want to buy a souvenir for your golf enthusiast friends or just enjoy the luxurious surroundings. For lunch choose from several charming restaurants and delis in the artists' retreat of Carmel.
Afternoon can feature the Mission San Carlos Borromeo (1770)--its gardens, baroque Nativity scene and museum recall that California was once ruled by imperial Spain. We pause next door to take in the spectacular views from Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch, or continue down the Pacific Coast Highway a little to catch sunset over the Ocean from the Pacific Edge restaurant or its Sunset Lounge. Or devote all your time to exploring the more than 80 art galleries and one-of-a-kind shops in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a "storybook hamlet in a forest." With so many compelling attractions nearby, you may wish to stay overnight—or at least for dinner. Or just relax during our two-plus hour drive home. Duration = usually 10-11 Hours from downtown San Francisco
Why Go with Us to Monterey & Carmel? Why not just rent a car or take the big bus tour? Because driving yourself, you need to focus on the road (just 2 winding lanes in some places), not the scenery. The big buses can't go some places and rush you everywhere else. We show you the off-the-beaten-path places most visitors miss, let you determine our pace and choose where we lunch...helping you remember that you're on vacation, minimizing your stress, maximizing your enjoyment.
"This was our first time in San Francisco, and we had also booked other tours in addition to you. To be honest, you were far and above the best, and we ended up wishing that we had used you more than we did. …I need to compliment you on your professionalism, courteousness, extensive knowledge, and engaging manner.” – Tim L. (Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania)
“Thank you for bringing us such a wonderful trip. Honestly the day-tour to Monterey and Carmel turned out to be the best and the most remarkable part of my California trip. The tour was just perfect! I will never forget the breathtaking scenery. …And thank you for explaining everything to us.” – Forrest C., Vancouver & Hong Kong
A Private Custom Sightseeing Service for the San Francisco Bay Area