Monterery Getaway

I travel to Monterey often for both pleasure and business—approximately 75 minutes from where I live—so expect as emphasis on family and food!

Embassy Suites

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by CBKovarik on March 12, 2006

Embassy Suites tend to maintain a high standard for both business travelers and families, and the one in Monterey is no exception. It features a (small but family-friendly) indoor pool, free snacks and drinks at happy hour, and a wonderful cooked-to-order breakfast, including an exceptional omelette station. The suites surround an 11-story (or so) atrium with indoor koi pond.

Most rooms have an ocean view, which is great with the boat lights at night. The hotel is an easy walk to the beach, approximately 2 blocks.

The only downside is that the hotel is NOT within walking distance of downtown Monterey.
Embassy Suites Monterey Bay - Seaside
1441 Canyon Del Rey
Seaside, California, 93955
(831) 393-1115

Hilton Monterey

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by CBKovarik on March 12, 2006

Although I am normally a fan of Hilton, as I am required to stay there by company request, this is one of my least favorite Hiltons.

Prices are reasonable—though you can find better in Monterey—but the accommodations are significantly older. Suitable for business travel, I would recommend against the Hilton if you are traveling with family.

There is an outside pool, and on-site restaurant. The hotel is neither close to downtown not the beach.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey
Monterey, California, 93940
831 373-6141

Bahama Billy's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by CBKovarik on March 12, 2006

Starting off with crazy picture frames, a mannequin piano player with dreadlocks, and garlic bread with corn, you know that you are in for some subtle Caribbean twists at this fun restaurant—equally suitable for a nice date or an upscale night with the family. (Sunset dinners, priced less, are available from 5 to 6.30)

The sweet potato fried ($7) with three sauces are fun and tasty; it rivals the blackened ahi tuna ($12) for my favorite appetizers. The crab mango bisque is also an unusual treat though it arrived so hot that my entree made it over before it was cool enough to eat.

The entrees are wonderful and fun. The meatloaf ($17)is definitely not your Mom's, but is equally delicious. The filet mignon ($25) is great with the choice of sauces. If on a date with someone you trust, get the feast for two ($50). I say trust because it is a huge amount of salad, crab legs, steak, and accompaniments... not for the shy eater!

If you brought kids, make sure that you get the arctic sundaes for desserts. While good ice-cream, the dry ice adds the perfect dramatic ending!

Bahama Billy's
3690 The Barnyard
Carmel, California, 93923
(831) 626-0430

Bixby Bistro

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by CBKovarik on March 12, 2006

This is an excellent new restaurant from the owner of Bahama Billy's. Designed as a big American steakhouse and martini bar, it filled a needed niche in Monterey. For starters, get the Asian nachos ($10)—fried wontons with wasabi cream, chicken, and peanut sauce make a unique start! I haven't had the chance to try any other appetizer—I'm stuck on these!

The steaks are good, not extraordinary, but good. Several interesting spins: the Kobe slider (think White Castle) ($14) was good but simply needed a little sharper flavor to pull it off, but the Kobe chop steak ($20) mixed with onions and mushroom, however, is the opposite, with a wonderful flavor that picks up on all of the ingredients.

Ironically, for a steakhouse, I give top marks to the seafood. A must-have is the seafood Newburg pot pie ($23). Topped with pastry dough, the scallops, lobster, and shrimp blend perfectly with the brandy Newburg sauce. It is worth a trip to the restaurant by itself!

Bixby's might be a touch intimidating for young kids at dinner (try Bahama Billy's), but it is a wonderful business and date restaurant.
Bixby Bistro
3600 The Barnyard
Carmel, California, 93923
(831) 626-1814

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by CBKovarik on March 12, 2006

The Monterey Bay aquarium is one of the best in the world. All ages, from 1 to 100, will love it. The million-gallon central aquarium is unreal—sharks and 6-foot-long tunas swim right by! The kids have loved the penguin feedings and kelp forest. It is a great educational place that keeps them entertained! Also featured is our favorite local friend to Monterey, the sea otter. There are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep young hands busy as well. Don't miss the jellyfish, one of nature's most beautiful and eeriest creations, brought to you in high style. This is what the aquarium excels at: bringing the mysteries of the deep at close as possible. It's top-notch.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 648-4888

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