I left Boston for California’s Monterey Penninsula for a training stint with my Coach before the 2004 Marathon Olympic Trials and literally called my husband and said, “Sell the house. I’m not coming home.” Though I can be impulsive, the beauty of this place and the amazing training venues made it the perfect location to train year-round. It is certainly a popular tourist destination and not uncommon to hear 5 or 6 different languages down by Lovers Point. It is about 60 degrees on average, so perfect running weather.
There is a bike path starting in Monterey that takes you by the Pier and Cannery Row for more touristy shops and restuarants, but if you are looking for scenic and serene, Pacific Grove is the place for you. It’s called “Butterfly Town USA” or “America’s last hometown.” Main street or Lighthouse Avenue offers a variety of shops and restuarants from low-key great eatieries like Holly’s Lighthouse Cafe, Toasties, and Peppers Mexicali Resturant to more upscale places like Fandango, The Little Red House, or The Beach House, or Max’ Grill to name a few. Pavel’s Bakery is a must, just get there early because they sell out fast.
Parking is free along the ocean and usually about 2 hours. You can park near Lovers Point and hit the public bathrooms down by the pool before you head out on your run. I do an out and back run almost every day along Ocean View Boulvard towards Pebble Beach and never tire of it. Deer, sea lions, otters, and seals are the norm. Fishing boats, scuba divers and kayakers are too. There is a nice dirt trail that runs along the stretch of ocean about 4 miles before you can take a boardwalk path into Pebble beach or keep running and go through the Pebble Beach gate for more trails and low-traffic roads. I can easily run out an hour or so mostly on dirt. It’s rolling and hilly in stretches so you don’t get bored just running flat the whole time. If you’re not a local, I highly recommend putting Pacific Grove on your to do list. Plan for the Big Sur Half Marathon in November that runs this beautiful stretch of road along the ocean.
For the kiddos: Hit the aquarium, Dennis the Menace park in Monterey, Caledonia Park in Pacific Grove, Lighthouse Cinemas, Lovers Point Beach with bike rentals and surreys, pool in the summer, Butterfly Santuary, and Asilomar Beach.