Where we get away in Monterey Bay
Big Sur River Inn, moderate, (800) 548-3610.
What more could you want from a Monterey County hotel than to kick back in a comfy deck chair amid a stand of redwoods while being serenaded by the soothing sounds of trickling water? Being able to enjoy it all while surfing the web, of course. The inn's rooms may not have telephones or TVs, but this cozy spot now features high-speed Internet access, a technological touch that doesn't detract from its rustic charms.
Treebones Resort, moderate to expensive, (877) 424-4787.
Want the remote wooded locale that only campers seem to get, but without having to really rough it? Book one of the 16 yurts at this ecofriendly lodge. They look like tents but feature pine floors, wicker chairs, queen-size beds, locking doors, and portable heaters. You'll still have to trek to the bathroom, but it's a small price to pay for this back-to-nature experience.
Old Monterey Cafe, moderate, (831) 646-1021.
If, like us, breakfast is your favorite meal, this down-home joint in downtown Monterey is the place to be, whether it's for a syrupy stack of buttermilk pancakes, hefty huevos rancheros slathered with homemade salsa, or crumbly coffee-cake muffins. Caveat: The place is tiny and a favorite of the locals, so expect a wait. But it's worth it.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, www.montereybay.noaa.gov.
This protected plot encompasses 276 miles of coastline and one of the world's most diverse marine ecosystems, so it's safe to say you could spend several days here and never be bored. But if you've only got a few hours, consider one of the guided kayak tours from Sea for Yourself (www.kayakcambria.com). You'll get a little exercise and an education to boot.
Point Sur Light Station, (831) 625-4419.
Perched 361 feet atop a giant volcanic rock, this splendid site is listed on the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places. The state's only turn-of-the-century lighthouse open to the public, it features docent-led tours chronicling its vast history and navigational significance.
Big Sur International Marathon, www.bsim.org.
The next race will take place on April 30, 2006, but, hey, if you're planning to run a marathon, we say make it this one. Not only will you compete in the midst of one of the most picturesque landscapes this country has to offer, but at mile 13.1, you'll be greeted by a tuxedoed pianist tapping out classical tunes.
Callaway Golf Pebble Beach Invitational, (831) 625-8575.
Come November, golf greats like Mark Brooks, Rich Beem, and Emilee Klein tee off in the only event that brings PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour, and Nationwide Tour players together to compete for the same purse. The courses they play on, including the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, are nothing to sneeze at, either.