Where should we stay? Mr.
Toy gets this question a lot. He does
not wish to
provide any listings of accommodations here. There are plenty of
excellent guidebooks and websites for that. There are times when a
home-grown web page just can't compete with the big boys, and this is
one of them. So go ahead and search your favorite travel site.
But before you start, Mr. Toy has some suggestions to help you narrow your search. First, ask yourself what type of lodgings you prefer and what can you afford. Basic motel? Bed & Breakfast? Full service hotel? Next, read the sections below and decide which part of the peninsula best suits your interests. Once you've done that you can tackle the guidebooks and web listings much more quickly. Then, if you have questions about a specific property, or just need a recommendation, you can ask Mr. Toy. He might actually know something.
One caution: Make your reservations as early as possible. During holidays things get pretty full. Even during off-season times everything can fill up if there is a big event in the area, such as the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament, the Monterey Jazz Festival, or a race at Laguna Seca. In fact, late July through mid August has become so jam packed with special events that it's virtually impossible for the average tourist to find affordable lodgings during that time. (Somebody needs to tell local event planners that it is possible to have too much of a good thing!)
More cautions: Be careful not to confuse properties with similar names. There's a Mission Inn and Mission Ranch which have absolutely nothing in common. Likewise there's a Monterey Bay Lodge and a Monterey Bay Inn. One is a motel (the Lodge), the other is a small hotel. Only one is actually along the bay (the inn), while the other is a couple of blocks inland. Which brings us to another caution. Some advertising can be deceptive. Mr. Toy doesn't want to give any names here to protect himself from the guilty, but a small number of lodgings have names or advertising descriptions which imply proximity to the ocean and other attractions, but they really aren't very close. You can verify such claims by viewing the map links in their listings.
Below are detailed descriptions of the various Peninsula neighborhoods and their characteristics, along with links to handy maps.
Monterey is the center of everything. It is a small and busy city with a rich history.
North Fremont Boulevard:
By the Freeway:
For peace and tranquility stay in Carmel. It's a
small town full of
interesting shops, art galleries, and excellent restaurants, all in a
fairy-tale forested setting. The business district can be pretty
bustling during the day, but most everything, except the
restaurants closes up around 6:00pm. If you stay
carry a flashlight
if you go out walking at night because there are very few streetlights.
WARNING! Speaking of residential neighborhoods, you may be thinking of renting a house for a week or so instead of checking into a hotel. That's often a good way to do it, but not in Carmel. House rentals of less than 30 days are illegal within the city limits of Carmel. But that doesn't seem to stop some property owners from trying - and we have seen a few improper listings on popular rental websites. If the law catches up with them after you've made your reservation you'll be outta luck.
epitomizes California rural life, with an upscale twist. The valley
covers a substantially larger area than The Peninsula itself. There are
a few luxurious resort properties plus a handful of
more humble lodgings. If you want sunshine and don't mind being a bit
isolated from the main attractions, this is the place for you.
There are also a couple of properties near the mouth of
Carmel Valley along Highway 1. The most prominent is the Carmel Mission
Inn. They lack the charm of Carmel or the rural style of Carmel Valley,
but they have the advantage of having easy access to shopping, Carmel,
Big Sur and the highway.
Located a few miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, the Highlands has sort of a fairy-tale forest ambiance with some of the most dramatic ocean views on the planet. The community was the home of pioneering photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The community feels isolated, but is just a quick drive to the rest of The Peninsula.
two very nice properties here. The Highlands Inn is a full-service
resort hotel, with two restaurants, swimming pool, and a dramatic
lounge area with two large stone fireplaces. Next door is
the Tickle Pink Inn, one of the most luxurious motels anywhere. Both
are perched on the side of a steep hill above Highway 1 with
spectacular panoramic views of the ocean (though some rooms may not
have ocean views). Some folks have complained
about the highway noise, but Mr. Toy finds it well within acceptable
limits. It is much louder in Monterey. Besides, with a view like this
P..G., as the locals call it, is located on the
northwest corner of
The Peninsula. The community has a quaint Small Town America feel and
ideal if you want something not too urban, but not too rustic either.
This town is very un-touristy, and they hope to keep it that way. The
sidewalks roll up early, so things are pretty quiet at night. Due to
its location, Pacific Grove tends to see more fog during the summer
months than do other Peninsula cities. That's not a bad thing, it's
just part of P.G. life.
Bed & Breakfast:
There are two very expensive resort hotels in
Pebble Beach. The Lodge at Pebble Beach is closer to Carmel, and the
Inn at Spanish Bay is closer to Pacific Grove. The latter has access to
Asilomar State Beach. If you like golf or ocean views these are the
places to go. But unless you are fairly wealthy you probably
can't afford to stay there. Like Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach generally
gets a more summer fog than Carmel or Monterey - but it wouldn't be
Pebble Beach without it. That fog keeps the rare and distinctive
Monterey Pine forest alive between rainy seasons.
Seaside is at the opposite end of the economic spectrum from Pebble Beach. On Del Monte Boulevard at the corner of Canyon Del Rey (Highway 218) there is one big ten-story hotel, the Embassy Suites, which is quite appealing (on the inside, anyway, the outside looks like a giant shipping box). A more modest Holiday Inn Express can be found next door. You'll enjoy great views from the upper floors of both buildings. Behind them is a pleasant lake called Laguna Grande, which attracts a variety of waterfowl. Although neither of these properties are very close to anything a tourist would want to be near, they do have easy highway access. Monterey's waterfront attractions are just five to seven minutes down the street and Carmel is about ten minutes away via the Freeway.
Most of Seaside's motels are located along Fremont
Boulevard, a rather unattractive commercial area. Don't bother
with them unless you are
poor or if everything else is full and you must be here on a
specific date. Some neighborhoods, especially
towards the north end of Fremont, are not the best places to be out at
night. The closer you are to the Monterey border the better