As you continue along the coast, most towns are within easy driving distance, making sightseeing a breeze. For a longer ride, the iconic 17-Mile Drive is legendary for its coastal views and million-dollar mansions. Pull over for a snapshot of the famed Lone Cypress, believed to be more than 250 years old, then head south out of Carmel Highlands along the coast of Big Sur. On the way is Garrapata State Park, ideally situated for a pit-stop hike through the redwoods or along the ocean. As you drive down this stretch, remember the Big Sur Pledge
, a local initiative to encourage guests and locals alike to protect and respect the region’s natural beauty.
Turn inland, and you’ll quickly discover a haven of fresh produce where more than 150 crops flourish. Monterey County’s fertile Salinas Valley grows millions of pounds of broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, spinach, and more every year, much of it available for tasting at the region’s farmers markets, which unfurl almost every day. In the summertime, keep your eyes peeled for strawberry fields – the region produces roughly one-third of entire state’s annual yield. In June, head to Castroville, the “Artichoke Capital of the World,” to celebrate the curious vegetable at the annual Artichoke Festival.
The booming agriculture isn’t limited to food: Monterey County is home to one of the largest wine-growing regions in California. Amidst the undulating vines of the Salinas Valley, Carmel Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands, some 32 varietals are putting this underdog wine region on the map. If you prefer one-stop sipping, A Taste of Monterey
is a wine market and bistro
showcasing wines from more than 90 local winemakers.