Best Day Trips and Weekend Getaways From the Monterey Peninsula

So you’re living in Monterey and you want to get away for a day or two? Sounds funny I know, but the best part of getting out of town is how excited we are when we get back home. It’s nice to leave town once in a while, and we put together a little competition of day(or two day) trips. The contenders are Cambria, Saratoga/Los Gatos, and San Luis Obispo/Avila Beach. We created a little spreadsheet showing criteria for our ideal outing.

Factors to Consider

When looking into a day trip, there are a few criteria that come to mind – distance, cost, weather, activities, and whether or not the destination is pet friendly(due to our 85lb sweet muffin of a lab named Delta, who is completely attached at the hip, and gives us serious attitude if we leave her home).

Here’s an example of a spreadsheet we use when evaluating trips. Isabel and I use Google Sheets so we can share the document with each other and collaborate on it without having to save a document and send it back and forth like you would with Microsoft Excel.

Trip #1 – Cambria

Like most of our getaways, we went to Cambria on a whim. When you’re in real estate, there are days every so often when a couple of showings get canceled and you find yourself with a free day, so you make the most of it with spontaneous trips. Our Cambria trip was in the October of 2017, generally a very good time to visit coastal cities, but the weather was awful with the exception of a 4 hour time span where we rented bikes and road along the coast until the sun went down. Wow, those 4 hours made the entire trip. That bike ride is one of those memories I’ll never forget.

We stayed at a little inn by the water – Cambria isn’t cheap, and it’s not very big, but downtown is fun and charming. We didn’t really eat anywhere we’d write home about, but enjoyed shopping downtown, wine tasting, and exploring. The beach wasn’t as pretty as some of our beaches – it was filled with debris so we didn’t spend much time in the sand. Our inn had a shared deck where the guests could sit in Adirondack chairs and look out over the water. We enjoyed that.


Trip #2 – Saratoga/Los Gatos

Our most recent trip was last week visiting Los Gatos and Saratoga. We wanted to take Delta, and we wanted a pool for under $200/night, so we stayed in a dog friendly hotel in Cupertino called Aloft. There was an incredible bakery close by and the hotel was very clean for $135/night. From there, we took a short drive to Saratoga with Delta and she met many other dogs. We had a glass of wine at one of the tasting rooms where we sat outside. We wanted warmer weather, and Saratoga was the answer at just over 90 degrees. From there, we explored downtown Los Gatos, and had an amazing lunch at The Palms. Everyone was so friendly, and we found an art festival at the park where we listened to live music and ran into one of our good friends who bought a second home with us in Carmel. That evening we explored Santana Row and did a little shopping. Delta stayed home, but she was happy after a long, hot day. The short one hour drive made for an easy trip home after two jam packed days of fun.

There were so many cute places like this for pictures!


Trip #3 – San Luis Obispo/Avila Beach

Isabel caught me on a work call while walking through this amazing trail by all the restaurants 🙂

We went to Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo for a wedding in January, and the weather was surprisingly great. Every time we go to San Luis Obispo, we find more outstanding places to eat, shop, walk around and explore. It’s as if the fun in SLO is never ending. This short vacation blew us away even more when we found Avila Beach about 20 minutes south of SLO. The water was warm, the beach was full of people having fun, and it kind of reminded us of San Diego. San Luis Obispo has some stunning parks and we love how many of the restaurants back up to the river. Coffee shops and breweries are in abundance, and visitors can easily get lost or distracted by all the sights.


The Winner

While we both feel we should go back during better weather, Cambria was given 3rd place. – still a bronze medal. Considering the distance, there just wasn’t quite enough for us to explore and the restaurants are our favorite part of travel. We are sure there are better restaurants than the ones we tried, so we’ll do better research next time.

Coming in second is Avila Beach/San Luis Obispo. This almost took the gold, but the distance is what lead us to choose Saratoga/Los Gatos as our winner. It packs the most value into a short, easy, digestible weekend getaway with minimal effort. Had San Luis Obispo been a little closer, we would have more than likely chosen it, but one hour for that much fun is just fantastic.

We hope this helps in your next adventure from the Monterey Peninsula!