It’s the mother of all backdrops for HBO’s Big Little Lies, the landscape of many a Steinbeck story, a surrealist setting for artist Salvador Dalí and, now, the environs for your next escape. Yes, Monterey County, Calif., lends itself to the creative eye, but it’s also a sanctuary for travelers on a quest to enrich their minds and bodies. Follow our three-day route—your journey starts now.
Gorgeous vistas beckon you outdoors upon arrival, and a stroll along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail in Pacific Grove (seemonterey.com) does the trick. This 1-mile segment of the path runs between Lovers Point and the aquarium on Cannery Row and is rich with natural wonders—frothy waves, blues from sky to sea, seals on the shore. Refuel with the seafood salad at Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar (Monterey Plaza Hotel, 400 Cannery Row, 831.372.2628); then explore the Dali17 exhibit (admission $20, Museum of Monterey, 5 Custom House Plaza, 831.372.2608). With 580 works, it’s the largest private Salvador Dalí collection in the United States—fitting, as Monterey was the only place in the country that the surrealist lived and painted. On display: a rare original lithograph of “The Persistence of Memory,” from the Changes in Great Masterpieces suite. (Look closely at the landscape; museum coordinator Hilary Roberts suggests it’s reminiscent of the Monterey coast.) Your last stop: the 500-acre Carmel Valley Ranch (1 Old Ranch Road, 831.625.9500). The main lodge is perched atop a road that winds by the golf course, fitness complex, garden and vineyard. Check in to a Vineyard suite (from $655 per night) and refresh with a soak in your balcony tub before texting the shuttle to take you to the lodge for a late-afternoon elixir at the bar (try this month’s Hanky Panky cocktail). A final pour: a custom, behind-the-grapes experience amid the vines—a tour with vintner Peter Figge, or a paired dinner with sommelier Mark Buzan (advanced reservations required, price upon request).
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