You’ve had a fantasy about your trip to the Central Coast for years. It involved great wine, delicious food, and long hikes along the shoreline as the glorious California sun beamed down on you. It’s a great travel dream. We’ve all had it. So, what do you do when you are faced with the constant beating of raindrops for the first two days of your trip? Do you shake your fists in despair? No! You start exploring the “under cover” spots of Monterey until the sun decides to break through and welcome you to the area.
What can you see without getting waterlogged?
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Founded in 1984 and located at the base of Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has developed a global reputation for being a leader in conservation efforts, as well as a fun place for people of all ages to enjoy learning more about marine life. My personal favorite spots involved penguins and sea otters, but everyone anticipating “Finding Dory” will find more than a few exhibits to intrigue them.
The Fireplace Lounge
While there are many fine restaurants in the Monterey/Carmel area, The Fireplace Lounge in the Hyatt Regency Monterey welcomes patrons with a roaring fire, live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights, and the benefit of having its food and drink come from the adjacent (and scrumptious) TusCA Ristorante. It makes for an ideal date night even when it isn’t raining, but sinking into the lounge chairs with the sounds and tastes around you is an unforgettable way to escape from an outside drenching.
Monterey Museum of Art
There are actually two locations of the Monterey Museum of Art: MMA Pacific Street and MMA La Mirada. The location at Pacific Street features American and early California paintings (which we particularly enjoyed), as well as photography and contemporary exhibits. It is right across the street from Colton Hall (which history buffs might want to see despite the rain). La Mirada is a work of art, itself, with special exhibits that you can see on your entrance ticket to the Pacific branch. While you may have to skip walking through their impressive gardens if the rain is heavy, the history of the building may just charm you as you tour.
Marilyn Monroe Spa
A spa day can make you instantly forget the dreary weather, and the Marilyn Monroe Spa, with its vibrant colors and friendly staff, is sure to brighten your day (and certainly the mood). Get a relaxing massage, indulge in a pedicure, or get a facial. If it’s still raining, I’d leave the blowout for another day, but the spa services will no doubt keep you coming back for more, regardless of the weather.
Naturally, you aren’t going to let a few raindrops stop you from trying the wines of the Central Coast, are you? Of course, not! Grab an umbrella and visit the tasting rooms along Cannery Row in Monterey, or drive down to the village in Carmel Valley. It’s not that far and makes for a fun excursion. I’d start with Twisted Roots. We discovered their cabernet and old zinfandel and fell in love. Parking is quite close to their charming village tasting room, and you can easily explore the art gallery that shares their space, as well as the neighboring tasting rooms without getting too damp.
If the wind and rain are light, you can still easily take the scenic drives through Carmel and Monterey. The sight of a roiling sea can be breathtaking, and as long as you can do it safely, the 17-Mile Drive provides many stunning vistas. Bring an umbrella so you can pop out periodically to enjoy the views, and marvel at the difference that a turn of weather can make to the color of the churning water.
Okay, normally, I would not recommend playing volleyball in the rain. However, I couldn’t help but snap a photo of intrepid sportsmen paying the rain absolutely no mind on the beach in Monterey.
(This article was originally posted on Examiner.com. Due to that site’s closure, it has been republished here).