Highlights & Sights Along The Way:
Let us guide the way as you experience Monterey, navigating along California’s rugged coastline, with the Pacific Ocean providing a backdrop through many points of the journey. This exhilarating drive will take you through one of the most scenic routes in California, from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel. Experience the birthplace of John Steinbeck as we cover the back roads of Monterey Country and Salinas Valley. Your guide will provide you with insider access on this journey, as they pass by some little-known routes, including some hidden sights the normal traveler would miss.
Rest assured, our hotel pick-up and drop-off service is complimentary! Upon boarding the vehicle, your guide will head in the direction of Monterey Bay, with optional stops in Silicon Valley and Gilroy available. If you didn’t know, Gilroy is known as “the garlic capital of the world”. In this town you will be able to enjoy wine tastings, as well as sampling their famous garlic ice cream. Their farmlands are lush with garlic, artichoke, broccoli, red and green lettuces - capture these as we drive through Santa Clara and Benito County. Admire the sharp contrast between the gold coast ranges and the agricultural valleys and farmlands of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Along the way, please request a stop at a local farmers market if you would like to indulge in some of the freshest raspberries, strawberries, and other produce - or if you’d just like to capture an image of the iconic sights.
The adventure will continue as we embark towards a protected marine sanctuary and some hidden beaches off of the Cabrillo scenic highway. Our professional guides will introduce you to rare species of sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and many shorebirds - some of these being endangered. A short walking tour will expose you to hidden beaches which offer beautiful panoramic views of Santa Cruz bay, with Monterey Bay visible in the distance. With some luck, you might even catch whales or dolphins swimming in the ocean, depending on weather conditions and the time of season.
Continuing the journey, we will visit the old capital of Alta California - Monterey. A focal point of California history, this area has ties back in the Spanish colonial era. We will visit Presidio of Monterey, an active US Army Installation; Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf, home to the Maritime museum; and Cannery Row, which has become a famous destination, paying tribute to John Steinbeck. In Cannery Row you will find small boutiques and culinary delicacies. You’ll visit sophisticated hotels, and art galleries and museums. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a popular visit - they pride themselves on their dedication to marine research and conservation. You can also visit the multiple tasting rooms, where you can enjoy a glass of wine - or two. You will want to extend your time here, as there is so much to do, see, and experience.
Lunch can be scheduled in either Monterey or Carmel. We’d be more than happy to assist with the booking of a reservation at one of the local seafood restaurants, and hopefully secure an oceanfront table. Another option is dining at our next stop, the world-renowned Pebble Beach Lodge and Golf Resort; or you can enjoy lunch at a restaurant in Big Sur, which is suspended on the edge of a cliff - offering guests spectacular views.
Following your lunch break, we will embark on one of the most scenic and enjoyable drives in California - the 17-Mile Drive. Offering some majestic sceneries, be prepared to have your cameras out to capture the dream homes, overlooking beautiful beaches and some of the world’s greatest golf courses. Plenty of stops will be offered by your tour guide along the way, to make sure you capture these sights and memories. We will visit the historic Pebble Beach Lodge and Golf Links - home of professional golf championships; as well as the famous Lone Cypress vista point.
Next, you will experience Carmel-by-the-Sea - a quaint and charming California town. Hit Ocean Avenue for some boutique shopping and sightseeing. Carmel is home to Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch, as well as a historic mission called the Carmel Mission. Follow the narrow coastline and embrace the amazing views that California, and this experience, have to offer.
For those who have already experienced Carmel or Monterey, do not fear! Our tour guides are ready to accommodate your itinerary to your specific needs and requests, at all points of the journey. Luckily for us, California has so much to offer. For example, we can visit Big Sur, which offers a majestic aura that is authentic to the Pacific Coast. Also, you can experience the culture in Carmel Valley’s wine country - a best-kept-secret of the area.
The farther south you go down Big Sur, the more variety that the scenic drive offers you - with wilderness exposing itself at the turn of every winding curve. This part of the journey is best experienced with the windows rolled down in the vehicle, as we make our way along Highway 1. If you'd like, there are a couple of hikes available along the way which will bring you to the shore. Here you will witness amazing views of the ocean, the rocky shoreline, and the hanging cliffs - the perfect landscape for Big Sur.
Your personal guide will arrive at your hotel at approximately 9:00 AM for pick-up. Our transportation services are offered in Downtown San Francisco, and anywhere between Monterey and the Bay Area. Our tour will begin with the Highway 101, heading south towards Monterey Bay, and then we will catch the Pacific Coast Highway 1 - famous for it’s surrounding scenery. On this first leg of the tour, we will pass through one of the tech metropolises of the world - Silicon Valley. En route, you will see the Google Campus, as well as other major corporate entities: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay, Oracle, and many more.
Throughout the day you will experience Gilroy’s world-famous garlic ice cream, as this town is recognized as the “Garlic Capital of the World”. If desired, your tour guide will schedule a stop a local farmers market where you will be able to sample and purchase the freshest of produce. Though it is not the leading producer of garlic in the world, this small town has built a name for itself over the years with it’s garlic, and they are home to the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, which is a fun draw for all crowds. This part of your drive will offer you a beautiful contrast: lush, green lands filled with growing crops, and the gold coastal ranges of California.
With our guides, you are in some of the best hands for the journey. Not only are they safe and professional drivers, they also know the area very well and will be able to modify your itinerary should there be any outside factors, like traffic, weather conditions, road closures, etc. You can rest assured that you can relax in the backseat as you enjoy a world-famous scenic drive. Admire the sights and take in the moment as we guide the way.
Highway 1 offers visitors so much, with its hidden beaches, majestic coastline, large cliffs and abundant green fields. Walking tours are available for those who would like to venture off the beaten path and onto a hidden beach. Should you take some time to enjoy a quick picnic snack here, you might cross an endangered species - sea otters are known to inhabit the area. And, the real lucky travelers witness whales or dolphins swimming off the coast.
Carmel Valley’s wine country is also a popular option for those who have already experienced Monterey or Carmel. Carmel’s Wine country includes beautiful rolling hills, elegant mansions and eye-catching canyons. Here you will find “San Carlos Borroméo del Río Carmelo”, a famous Roman Catholic mission church and is rich in history.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is next on the itinerary. An inspiration to many of the world’s best artists, this oceanfront town is rich in history and offers more amazing scenery. You will have plenty to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea as well, enjoying their charming restaurants, elegant mansions, vibrant cottages, phenomenal galleries, and shops. Should you want to take pictures, let your guide know so that they can cater the tour accordingly. Also, remember a stop at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch may be scheduled at this point!
Brace yourself for the 17-Mile Drive in the direction of Pebble Beach. The scenic drive includes plenty amazing vistas, including the Bird Rock, Spyglass vista point, Cypress Point, China Rock, Seals Rock, the Spanish Bay, and many more. Upon arriving at Pebble Beach, you will be able to visit the famous Pebble Beach Resort and Golf Course, as well as the high-end boutiques located near the golf course.
We will come across Monterey Cannery Row or the Old Fisherman’s Wharf - both are sought after destinations. “Cannery Row” was renamed in honor of John Steinbeck, and is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, an institution Whig prides itself on marine research and conservation. This area is famous for its boutiques, cuisine, luxury accommodations, art and history, and its wine tasting rooms.
With a long and fulfilling day behind us, we will embark on our return towards San Francisco, or the final drop-off of your choice in the San Francisco and Bay Area. Your professional tour guide will ensure a safe and speedy return to your final drop-off, and they will strive to reveal more sights and wonders, though the time of travel may be affected by weather conditions and road closures. Thank you very much for choosing Golden Horizon Travel, where we work hard to meet and exceed your expectations.
Let us make your day, you will not be disappointed!