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Calling all San Diegans. If you’re looking for an inexpensive getaway to somewhere not Southern California, Alaska Airlines offers direct tickets to Monterey for $130 RT in winter/early spring! Jen and I visited late February for a work conference that we extended into a weekend stay. Here are my suggestions for visiting the Monterey Bay Area.

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Where to Stay in Monterey: Jabberwock Inn. This bed and breakfast, located in New Monterey (and only 4 blocks away from Pacific Grove), is named after Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem from Alice in Wonderland’s Through The Looking Glass novel (I actually had to memorize and recite this poem in 4th Grade). Everything at this Inn is tied to this poem— from the names of the breakfast dishes to the names of the rooms. We stayed in the Tum Tum Tree, which was a quiet little cottage separate from the main house with ocean views, patio hangs, and a pot belly stove fireplace. The sunroom in the main house has expansive windows that look west with ocean views. Every morning you’re prepared breakfast by the innkeepers (it alternates from savory and sweet every other day). And every night, there’s wine and cookies sitting out for you.

Where to Eat in Monterey: Pacific Grove was my family vacation spot growing up, so visiting now makes it very familiar. Red House Cafe is one of my favorite brunch spots. Although we didn’t have a chance to visit there this time, it’s where I developed my “sophisticated” taste buds for marscapone cheese and berry crostinis. You should also stop by the Espresso Bar at Crema, serving up Verve Coffee Roasters espresso and the best baked goods (scones, cheddar biscuits, etc.)!

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Where Else to Go: Unfortunately when we visited, sections of Hwy 1 were closed leading up to Big Sur due to mudslides from the recent big storms. Instead, we drive from Pacific Grove through the scenic 17 Mile Drive, which led us directly to Carmel. When you’re in Carmel, don’t miss walking along the rocky, forested coast. It is probably one of the most peaceful things you could ever do, and you’ll feel like you’re on your own secluded retreat.

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Where to Stay in Carmel: We stayed at Hotel Carmel, formerly the Dolphin Inn, that was recently remodeled into a hipsters hotel paradise. The lobby is decked out with a marble table, indigo dyed pillows and leather butterfly chairs. They also serve a complimentary bagel bar in the mornings.

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Where to Eat in Carmel: Also, don’t miss lunch/dinner at La Bicyclette. This cute French/Italian bistro serves up some of the best salads, pizzas, entrees, rose, etc. We hit this spot twice during our 2 day stay. There are also a ton of wine tasting rooms (like 15+) in Camel, so you’re guaranteed to never go thirsty!

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