What to do in Monterey and Carmel, CA, for a 3-day vacation? Day 1

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Biking trail

As shared in my prevous post planning getaways using AA and Hilton credits for free hotel stays, we planned a Monterey - Carmel getaway in Memorial Day weekend.  This is probably our fifth or sixth time to visit Monterey and Carmel.  Each time trip planning has become more mind-teasing, as we would like to do something different yet not to spoil the fun of relaxing by over-trip planning, or over-spending.  So, why going again?  Because Carmel has a charm to it that seems to lure people, including us, back.  We spent about three days at Monterey - Carmel.  My initial expectation was that the stay may be too long.  It turns out not the case.  The following is our fun and affordable itinerary of a 3-day getaway.

Day 1 – Monterey Bay, California

  • Arrived at Best Western Plus Beach Resort at Monterey (redeem using AA miles tips) around noon, dropped off our luggage to the receptionist to hold until we would check-in after 3 pm.
  • Lunch at Fish Hopper at Monterey  We tried to make reservation but was told none available during lunch time.  We were glad to be able to drop in with only 10 minutest wait.  Reviewing ratings and feedbacks on both Yelp and TripAdvisor.com led us to a try at this restaurant rated two "$" signs.  It seems that one $ sign for restaurants at Monterey or Carmel hints at $25.  The shrimp salad was fresh and delicious.  The lobster risotto was cooked to the right point.  Service was excellent.  The location is very convenient.  The quantity was a little meager and price is little north.  Overall, value-wise for returning visitors may not be there; for only $25 more, we prefer to re-visit Basil (see my post Day 2 & Day 3 Carmel).

Shrimp salad
Lobster risotto

  • Monterey Wharf walking for an hour to take photos of the beautiful weather with the city

Monterey Bay Wharf view
  • Tandem Bike - our highlight activity of the day.  Isa and I used to ride on separate bikes which was not too much fun, because one of us would always ride too fast.  Tandem bike is a solution.  Rental of a tandem bike is charged as a two-bikes rental, $40 for two hours.  Our rating about the experience is perfect.  We could always talk to each other and decide quickly where to stop.

Tandem bike

  • Dinner at Greek Paprika Cafe -  we wanted to rest early and prepare for the sunset time, so might as well have an early dinner at this Greek Cafe.  It is rated one "$". We spent about $30 including tax and tis.  Their cooked meat was fair taste.  Their homemade garlic chicken sauce was the magic.  Spinach cake was another specialty.

Greek food - Paprika Cafe at Monterey

  • The quality of Best Western Plus Beach Resort at Monterey is the lowest point of this trip.  Its strong selling point is pet-friendly and near the beach.  If you want to bring your pet, the resort would not be a bad choice.  Nevertheless, the ocean view can be interrupted by people walking in the hallway, outside of your bedroom window, as the hallway is designed outside of the bedroom window.  Using AA points to redeem Best Western room also does not come with breakfast either.  Parking fee overnight is $17 per day. (I found Embassy suite hotel parking is only two blocks away and free).  
Best Western Plus Beach Resort room
  • Watching Monterey beach sunset 7:30 - 8pm Pacific Day Time. We found a great spot in the main lobby to watch the sunset.  Only this experience is worth my 25,000 AAdvantage miles. As far as I know, for the same price, we do not plan to stay in this resort again next time visiting Monterey.

Watching sunset in Best Western Plus Beach Resort at Monterey
Best Western Resort, main lobby

If using AAdvantage miles to redeem for hotel stay, there may be no option to select which floor you want the location for the hotel room, because AAdvantage website is a third-part channel to those resorts.  Once redeemed via AA website, there is a penalty to cancel the redemption.  In order to book ocean-view room at a high floor, you may either need to call the resort directly to book for a high floor room, or redeem the room via the its own hotel website with high-floor option selected, such as Embassy Suite Hilton Monterey Bay at Seaside via Hilton website.

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