1 . Portola Hotel & Spa

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (888) 222 - 5851

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Our pick overlooks the famous Fisherman’s Wharf, which means a fantastic Monterey Bay view is as simple as stepping out to your suite’s balcony and gazing down on the yachts and crowds lining the pier. And if a view isn’t enough to satisfy your curiosity, the Portola Hotel and Spa is within walking distance to, well – everything!

Maybe you want an up-close shot of the sea lions and harbor seals that call the Fisherman’s Wharf home. Slip on your camera strap and step outside; this Monterey Bay mainstay is literally right outside the Portola Hotel’s doors! While you’re there, see who can spot the most starfish clinging to the pier and snap a photo of the kelp fountain sculpture and other boardwalk art. Feeling restless? Slip into Spa on the Plaza for a Serenity Wrap – a luxurious mud, seaweed or herbal treatment that cocoons you in spa-quality comfort and culminates in a generous neck, scalp or foot massage. And at the end of each day, pull up a chair to witness one of Monterey’s famous sunsets – a feature that puts the Portola Hotel and Spa in a class of its own. If a full day of sightseeing has you feeling a bit sleepy, a suite from the Portola Hotel’s Luxury Collection is just what you need. Shuttered windows block the sun’s rays, leaving you to peacefully slumber atop your plush Portola Hotel bed.

Address

2 Portola Place, Monterey, CA 93940

Highlights

Portola Hotel and Spa is located in downtown Monterey and is a short drive to Carmel, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove and the Monterey Airport.

Related Onsite Offerings

Portola Hotel’s luxury suites are appointed with flat screen TVs, granite-top bath vanities, watercolors by local artists and include breakfast for two each morning.

2 . Monterey Hotel

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (800) 966 - 6490

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Our Top 10 Monterey Bay Vacations list features its share of water view suites and oceanfront accommodations, but it begins a little closer to home. Located in the heart of Monterey’s historic downtown, the Monterey Hotel offers a true taste of this California city on your Monterey Bay vacation.

Originally opened to the public in 1904, a recent renovation restored the Monterey Hotel’s Victorian-era good looks. This historic California hotel celebrates the union of the most modern amenities with all the charm and grace of an earlier age. Step into the hotel lobby, where antique furnishings bask in the glow cast by leaded glass chandeliers and polished hardwood floors reflect the fireplace’s flames. Just upstairs, a hand-carved headboard anchors your room’s beautifully-appointed bed, while pressed botanical prints adorning the walls offer a nod to the hotel’s rich heritage. The century-old Monterey Hotel is impressive, but this charming Monterey accommodation has in no way cornered the market on historic California traditions. The Monterey wine industry, for example, predates this historic hotel by nearly a century, when Franciscan friars planted the first crop of wine grapes in the Carmel and Monterey valleys. Swish, swirl and savor the fruits of their labors as you tour dozens of wineries that make up Monterey County wine country. As Monterey Peninsula wineries are fond of saying, great taste comes with the territory!

Address

406 Alvarado Street, Monterey, CA 93940

Getting there

From the south, exit Route 1 at Munras Street. Proceed to the Fremont/Munras intersection; turn left. Proceed to Alvarado Street; turn right. The Monterey Hotel is on the left at 406 Alvarado St.

Fun facts

When the Monterey Hotel opened in 1904, it was heralded in the Monterey New Era newspaper as “the finest European hotel west of Chicago.”

3 . Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (800) 334 - 3999

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Those with a fear of heights may be wary of our No. 2 selection; Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is perched on stilts set into a sandy stretch of Monterey Bay beach, after all. But with spectacular bay views in every direction, it won’t take long to conquer your phobia and truly enjoy your Monterey Bay vacation!

The rhythmic sounds of crashing surf wake you each morning. Sea otters frolic in the waters before you. And salty ocean breezes accompany you from breakfast to bedtime. A few minutes at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is all it takes to come to a simple conclusion: you could get used to life at the water’s edge. Now that you’ll be spending your days surrounded by such finery, you’ll need a more appropriate pastime. Golf is a perennial favorite and this Monterey hotel partners with area courses – including the Charles Maud-designed Del Monte – to bring you incredible savings and spectacular play. No need to journey too far; there’s plenty to do back at the Monterey Plaza and Hotel. Climb the wraparound stairs to the top floor, where the healing powers of the rooftop Vista Blue Spa await you. Secure a table for two at Schooners Bistro on the Bay for a taste of the famous seafood – including sushi small plates – brought into Fisherman's Wharf daily.

Address

400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940

Fun facts

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is the only Mobil Four Star-rated hotel in Monterey.

Highlights

Monterey Plaza Hotel’s waterfront restaurant, Schooners Bistro on the Bay, is home to the “Best Margarita” and “Best Specialty Drink” in Monterey County.

4 . Sanctuary Beach Resort

Marina, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (877) 944 - 3863

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The dictionary defines sanctuary as a refuge or safe place, but our No. 4 spot gives new meaning to the word on your Monterey Bay vacation. With windswept dunes and Pacific Ocean surf as far as the eye can see, the Sanctuary Beach Resort blends substance with scenery for a true coastal retreat.

The Sanctuary Beach Resort is a beauty in its own right, but let’s give credit where it’s due. This Marina, CA resort overlooks one of the world’s largest marine preserves, the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. Just beyond your balcony, sea otters and seal lions beckon you with a flick of their friendly flippers and tails. With a two-person kayak – a motor would only disturb the contemplative silence you seek – ready to do your bidding, you’d do well to heed their call and paddle your way into these protected waters. Back at the resort, seagulls swoop down over the beach as you enjoy a dip in the heated outdoor pool and spa. With a Hollywood hotshot serving as governor, it can be hard to get a little recognition in these parts. Fortunately, the gray whale stirs up a warm welcome as it migrates through Monterey Bay each year. Catch a charter or tour boat for a glimpse of this gentle giant, along with sea-faring friends like the humpback and blue whales, dolphins and the ever-present harbor seals.

Address

3295 Dunes Drive, Marina, CA 93933

Highlights

Looking to explore beyond Monterey? Sanctuary Beach Resort is only 15 minutes north of Carmel.

Related Onsite Offerings

Slip into the Serenity Spa for spa-quality healing inspired by the sea

5 . Seascape Beach Resort

Aptos, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (800) 230 - 4134

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While our No. 5 spot’s name could call to mind that seaside sanctuary you’ve been dreaming of, this Monterey Bay inn is surprisingly family-friendly. Sure, Seascape Beach Resort’s stylish interiors and breathtaking views lend it a romantic air, but parents and kids alike will find something to love on your Monterey Bay family vacation.

Squalling infants and lost luggage are both the pits, but nothing ruins a family vacation quite like choruses of “I’m bored.” Fortunately, there won’t be any time for such nonsense at Seascape Beach Resort – mainly because the kids will be too busy to even think about complaining! The Monterey Bay Aquarium – a family favorite – is a must-see on any California vacation, but be warned: its legendary great white sharks will have your little ones baring their pearly whites in imitation at the mailman, the cat and anything else they can corner. Come summer, Camp Seascape gives parents a break while kids are busy with nature hikes, sandcastle building and all the pizza parties their little tummies can handle. Bonfires on the Seascape Beach Resort sands are just the occasion for family bonding with s’mores in hand. But don’t leave all your star-gazing for when the sun goes down; point your eyes down for a glimpse of what high tide left behind at Point Piños Beach. Here, the water’s retreat signals time for sea critters like starfish, hermit crabs and anemones with brightly-colored tentacles to come out and play!

Address

1 Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos, CA 95003

Highlights

Seascape Boardwalk features laser tag, mini golf, a frightwalk, bowling and the world-famous Giant Dipper roller coaster. Ask about Seascape Boardwalk packages!

Fun facts

The Point Piños Tide Pools are known by locals as the “Great Tide Pool” and considered some of the best tide pools the world over.

6 . Monterey Bay Inn

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (831) 373 - 6242

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Beloved folk singer Raffi had an instant classic on his hands from the moment he strummed his guitar and crooned the first few lines of Down by the Bay. While we can’t promise any bears combing their hair or llamas eating their pajamas, Monterey Bay Inn does boast spectacular hotel accommodations right on the bay.

We can’t speak for you, but a room with a view brings to mind one thing: romance. Add on a Monterey Romance Package – complete with sparkling wine and chocolates, dinner at the world-famous Sardine Factory and an in-room massage for two – and you’ve got all the requisites for a fantastic Monterey romantic vacation. There’s still room to get creative, of course, with tandem bike rides on Monterey’s famous 17-Mile Drive, stargazing from the Monterey Bay Inn’s rooftop hot tub and countless other romantic pursuits. Monterey Bay Inn’s Ocean View suites even offer your choice of vantage points: a whirlpool tub for two or a private balcony, both overlooking the beaches, tide pools and under-the-sea creatures that make up the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Otters and sea lions frequent this carefully maintained aquatic playground – home to one of the largest naturally occurring kelp forests in the country. When you’ve had your fill of sanctuary scenery, the Monterey Bay Aquarium boasts even more creature encounters!

Address

242 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940

Fun facts

In 1945, author John Steinbeck immortalized Monterey’s Ocean View Avenue with his book, Cannery Row. Steinbeck’s book called so much attention to the street that its name was formally changed in 1953.

Related Onsite Offerings

Rooms at the Monterey Bay Inn include king size feather beds, private bathrooms, balconies, nightly turndown service, wireless Internet, DVD players, coffeemakers and bathrobes.

7 . Monterey Marriott

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (831) 649 - 4234

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You work hard for your money and we think you deserve to play hard, too. With a historic downtown location and amenities to keep you entertained for hours on end, the Monterey Marriott injects a splash of color into any Monterey Bay business vacation.

Your 6 a.m. wake up call sounds – time to throw on that suit and let the work day begin. Make time for a quick, but delicious breakfast in the Marriott lobby before heading off to the connecting Monterey Convention Center with a hand-crafted Starbucks latte, courtesy of the Lobby Coffee Bar, in hand. The Marriott’s sunny outdoor courtyard, complete with pool, is ideal for working on your tan between meetings. Wrap up any end-of-day details over scrumptious seafood appetizers and a brew at the onsite Characters Sports Bar and Grill. And if the work day stress gets to be too much to handle, stop into the Escape Day Spa for a rejuvenating facial, massage or body wrap that’ll have you back on your feet in no time. Back in your Monterey Marriott suite, red and gold stripes add a designer feel to your California chain hotel accommodations. Upgrade to the Presidential Suite for a granite-top desk, plush leather chair and inspiring Monterey Bay views that serve as home office on your Monterey Bay vacation.

Address

350 Calle Principal, Monterey, CA 93940

Highlights

The adjoining Monterey Conference Center features approximately 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space.

Related activities

Sightseeing, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, tennis, volleyball, sailing and mountain biking.

8 . Carmel Mission Inn

Carmel, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (888) 475 - 8287

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Monterey’s famous aquarium is tempting, but it doesn’t take long to tire of the top-dollar attractions – and the lines that all too often come with them. If you’d rather bypass the tourist traps in favor of something to call your own, our No. 8 pick is your ticket to Monterey Bay vacations off the beaten path.

Carmel Mission Inn invites you to witness the evolution of a Monterey Bay favorite. Following a complete renovation, this California inn is out with the old and in with a color palette inspired by the Monterey scenery. Think vibrant greens for the surrounding golf courses and lush Carmel flora, with just a hint of blue for Pacific Ocean waters. Inside your Carmel Mission Inn suite, bold shell murals and upholstered headboards strike a balance between style and comfort on your Monterey Bay vacation. And over in the Fuse Lounge Café, trendy design highlighted by the inn’s trademark blues and greens is a delightful background to the specialty cocktails and plates set before you on the mahogany bar. We hope you brought your clubs, because the Pete Dye-designed course at Carmel Valley Ranch is a must-play on any Monterey golf vacation. Even if you’re not a putting pro, the Pebble Beach course is equally spellbinding when viewed from the back of a golf cart or from the roads that wind their way along its cliffside fairways and greens.

Fun facts

In 2007, Pebble Beach Golf Links was ranked the No. 1 Public Course in America by Golf Digest.

Highlights

Carmel is a naturally scenic destination for your California wedding. Let the Carmel Mission Inn’s culinary team prepare delightful dishes to celebrate your big day!

Related Onsite Offerings

Heated pool, two spas, fitness center, room service, business service, complimentary parking, meeting and special event spaces.

9 . Old Monterey Inn

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (831) 375 - 8284

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Cozy, quaint and charming are just a few words past guests have used to describe our No. 9 selection. If it’s a true bed and breakfast experience you’re after, the Old Monterey Inn won’t disappoint. Even if you only came to tour the sights, this charming California inn is a real pleasure on any Monterey Bay vacation.

Surrounded by lush tropical foliage and blooming gardens, this historic Monterey Bay boutique hotel is as easy on the eyes as it is on your budget. Inside your Old Monterey Inn room or suite, skylights and shuttered windows flood the room with natural light, while stained glass panels cast your suite in a kaleidoscope of colors. Pour a generous handful of perfumed bath salts into the rising water, light a few candles and slip into the sweet-scented bubbles of your suite’s oversized tub. Then, reach for the stack of fluffy towels, dry off and dive under the down duvet that graces your plush featherbed. If this isn’t your idea of Monterey Bay vacation bliss, we don’t know what is! Of course, that was before we set foot in the SpaRetreat Salon at Old Monterey Inn. From massages that alternate hot and cold stones with essential oils to restorative facials and wraps, this California spa is your destination for sea-inspired pampering.

Fun facts

The Old Monterey Inn was recently featured on The Today Show as a romantic rendezvous destination, as chosen by the editors of Travel and Leisure Magazine.

Related activities

The historic Fisherman’s Wharf, downtown shopping districts, the Monterey Museum of Art and Adventures by the Sea kayak and bike rentals are within walking distance of the Old Monterey Inn.

Highlights

Along with fountains and brightly-colored gazing balls, more than 200 pots of impatiens dot the Old Monterey Inn’s garden landscape.

10 . Victorian Inn

Monterey, California

CALL DIRECT: +1 (831) 373 - 8000

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Our No. 10 pick comes with a lengthy past – one you maybe wouldn’t expect from the Monterey Bay outpost of the world’s largest hotel chain. Then again, the Victorian Inn isn’t you typical Best Western accommodation. Built in 1906 as a private home, this boutique hotel offers vintage charm in Monterey, CA!

The Victorian Inn is just steps from historic Cannery Row, named for its role in Monterey’s once thriving sardine industry. With a wide range of galleries, restaurants and shopping dotting its streets, Cannery Row is also one of Monterey’s most visited tourist attractions. Located on the former site of the Hovden Cannery, the Monterey Bay Aquarium delights adults and children alike with its abundant kelp forests, playful sea otters, sinister jellyfish and schools of native and tropical fish species. Even the infamous great white shark finds its place among Monterey Bay Aquarium’s colorful coral formations. If Monterey’s best aquarium can’t satisfy your yearning for animal companionship, bring your best friend – the four-legged one – along for the ride. Despite its stately exterior, the Victorian Inn boasts some of the most pet-friendly accommodations in town. Pooch Packages pamper your furry friend, while an en-suite marble fireplace, feather bed and jetted tub caters to human comfort.

Address

487 Foam Street, Monterey, CA 93940

Highlights

Cannery Row vacation packages from the Victorian Inn include overnight lodging for two, two tickets to the Steinbeck Center in Salinas and a copy of John Steinbeck’s novel, Cannery Row.

Fun facts

The Victorian Inn was built in 1906 as a private home for the Lang family.

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