Domestic Travel, Itineraries & Trip Planning

Monterey Weekender: Big Little Lies Edition

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Okay, okay, I’ll admit, we didn’t go to Monterey to do a Big Little Lies tour. In fact, we hadn’t even finished watching the show at that point and didn’t decide to go to Monterey until 2 days before we went. But, we sort of ended up on a Big Little Lies path. Here’s 48 hours in Monterey, inadvertently on the Big Little Lies trail.

Friday evening in Monterey

7:30 p.m. – Arrive in Monterey, starving.

7:45 p.m. – After unloading our stuff, stroll down to Fisherman’s Wharf, where Jane, Madeline, and Celeste met for many a coffees. While awaiting a table, we walk down to the edge of the wharf, where we’re greeted by this serene and enticing dusk.
Monterey marina 8:00 p.m. – We’re seated in the upstairs section of Old Fisherman’s Grotto. Its romantic, lowlight ambience (and a very long week at work) leads us to ordering a bottle of local white wine and way too much food. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • “Monterey Style” Clam Chowder: incredibly rich but oh so delicious
  • Crab Meat Tower: It’s pretty good, especially if you like crab and avocado (ours came out really late though, so by the time we got to it, it felt a little too rich)
  • Fried Calamari: sub-par, skip it
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Platter: they told us this was for one person, which may be true if you didn’t order anything else. The Dungeness crab was on point, as were the scallops. Honestly, all of the seafood was really good. I was less impressed by the risotto and veggies though.

At the end of dinner, they have a cute little tradition of presenting the female patrons with roses when the check comes.

Saturday in Monterey

9:00 a.m. – Breakfast at our Airbnb, which had provided the essentials for a simple meal. I think we were both still full from the night before.

9:30 a.m. – We start walking toward the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Jane and Ziggy go for a day out just before she tells him he’s going to see a child psychologist. Neither of us had looked up how long the walk actually was, and of course, it starts pouring on us. It’s now Weather 2, us 0. (We also found out later that there’s a free shuttle from the wharf to Cannery Row where the aquarium is.)

We make a quick coffee stop at Cafe La Strada along the way before ducking into the aquarium, where we immediately head to see the stars of the show. How can you not love this face?

1:30 p.m. – Cannery Row exploration, followed by a late lunch at Hula’s Island Grill. The Jawaiian Jerk Pork Plate hit all the right spots, but if they try to tell you the jerk sauce is really spicy, you tell them they don’t know real spice 😉

4 p.m. – Sneak in a nap. We’re getting old.

5:15 p.m. – Head out to do the famous 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, timed to make sure we get the gorgeous glow of the setting sun in the background. The Lone Cypress is just as impressive as when I first saw it 15 years ago. (Or maybe as impressive as the last Instagram photo I saw of it, I can’t remember which.)
lone cypress 17 mile drive
6:30 p.m. – We drive through Carmel Highlands, where Celeste’s home was located, and take a stroll through Carmel-by-the-Sea, the quintessential little rich town…by the sea. We stop for some coffee and pastries and disagree about whether it would be interesting to stay here for a weekend.

8:55 p.m. – *This section used to praise Paluca Trattoria, the inspiration for the cafe where Jane, Madeline, and Celeste meet up. But it seems like the Big Little Lies fame got to the place, and we had the worst experience when we revisited in 2020. It is no longer worth your time or dime. Avoid, avoid, avoid.*

10:45 p.m. – Inspired by dinner, we watch some more Big Little Lies. But stuffed with carbs, we pass out.

Sunday in Monterey

9:45 a.m. – Brunch at Caffe Trieste. Honestly we just wanted something fast and this was the closest spot. The crab scramble exceeds my expectations.

10:30 a.m. – We say goodbye to Monterey and hop down Highway 1 (which Madeline drives to drop her kids off at school) and down to Garrapata State Park.

The original idea was to go down to Big Sur, but that’s closed due to damage from fires and storms (tentatively reopening in July 7 2017). And so we unintentionally end up in the park where all of the starring ladies go running on the beach.
Garrapata State Park Monterey
1:45 p.m. – Parts of Garrapata are closed as well, but we’re still in the mood to hike, so we drive back up the 1 and spend a couple of hours in Point Lobos.
point lobos
4:45 p.m. – Having looped through most of Point Lobos, we head back home, but not without stopping in San Jose first for some delicious food at Jade Cathay to close out our trip.

No murders occurred during this Big Little Lies weekender, but proceed at your own caution. Who knows what happens behind the closed doors of those giant mansions? 😉

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48 Hours in Monterey: Big Little Lies

3 thoughts on “Monterey Weekender: Big Little Lies Edition

  1. I LOVED that TV show! I’ll be honest, I didn’t know anything about Monterrey until I read this post… Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if it was “real” or a mock up of different places as one town. But it looks exactly and just as gorgeous as the TV show. Also, it kind of reminds me of Australia or South Africa…

    1. When the ads first came out, I thought I’d totally hate it, but it was great! If you come to California, you should definitely take the opportunity to drive down the Pacific coast and visit. Monterey is amazing for short getaways. I haven’t been to either Australia or South Africa yet but look forward to seeing the comparisons one day!

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