14. Hotels, Entertainment, Educational Venues, Restaurants
“Bicycling? I thought we were going out…”
Virtually everywhere you go, bicyclists welcome!
Hey, this is a tourist county! You can feel at ease biking to casual and elegant places.
You say you’d rather drive and have the option of valet parking? No worries, just bike on up. Our Monterey County valets take it in stride that bicyclists, too, may want this service. Special date? Most would be charmed that you knew to ask for this amenity. See “Bike Valet and Other Bicycle Parking.”
Monterey’s Cannery Row: InterContinental the Clement Monterey
provides bike valet parking and is also a HER Helmet Thursdays lodging participant.
Many businesses and organizations mentioned on this page are in the HER Helmet Thursdays project. Those spots give discounts to bicyclists on Thursdays. Check their listings any day of the week though, because most include other tips, include bike-there tips to their locations.
If you are a visitor and unfamiliar with names on the list of these more than 200 extra bike-friendly places, you may wish to start with the HER Helmet Thursdays spots in Bike to the Best of Monterey County.
Hotels and other lodging
Right on Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey, in the midst of where everything is happening, the historic Monterey Hotel is ready for cyclists with that bike valet service and with lodging discounts for cyclists as part of the HER Helmet Thursdays project. (See “Lodging Providers Show Monterey County is a bike-friendly place” to learn about all charter lodging participants in HER Helmet Thursdays.)
All the lodging places listed below are in the project too, including Monterey’s newest waterfront hotel, InterContinental The Clement Monterey. The Clement offers bike valet parking also.
The Sanctuary Beach Resort is another example of one of our extra bike friendly hosts. Maybe that’s because their sales director, Jeff Perrine, is an avid cyclist himself! This property was the first of the large hotels to come into the project, and the first in Marina.
In Carmel-by-the-Sea, Doris Day’s Cypress Inn was one of the first to put out the red carpet for cyclist and for pet-lovers too! Check their website for details.
Cyclists heading down the Big Sur Coast often stay at the Carmel River Inn, which is in HER Helmet Thursdays.
Monterey County lodging providers in this cycling friendly project include not just hotels and inns but also providers like the Monterey Hostel, part of Hosteling International. A bike map on the wall alongside the registration desk, bike lockers, and their special exemption for cyclists from the usual check-in hours are all evidence of the hostel manager’s commitment to making Monterey Hostel a happy home-on-the-road for touring cyclists.
And if your preferred lodging is a room with a starry sky, check out “Camping in Monterey County” on this site. The park and forest rangers (links provided in that camping post) who tend these beautiful lands are usually a great source of info about cycling the appropriate trails and roads.
Restaurants, and related spots
Below, Carmel: Carmel Belle
Big Sur: Big Sur River Inn Restaurant
In the “casual places” realm—in the restaurants category—next time you’re cycling the Cannery Row bike path, head up to Lighthouse Ave to Taqueria del Mar and learn why, as the Monterey County Weekly noted in “Hot Like Chocolate,” they’ve had a loyal following since 1987.
Run by “Good Neighbor Nicholas” Gasca and his niece, Lilia Gasca, their menu emphasizes light, healthy, delicious food (think chimichangas on the grill, not in a fryer). The decor is no-frills, yet clean and pleasant. And they use only non-disposable tableware, a rarity among fast, casual places.
Taqueria del Mar is closed Sundays–these folks know what’s necessary for a two-person operation to stay in balance! You’ll feel it, too; they maintain an ambiance that is muyo tranquillo. Want to enjoy mealtime conversation? There’s no TV, no music blasting. This is an exceptionally peaceful and quiet place to eat.
New Monterey, Lighthouse Avenue District: Taqueria Del Mar
Lilia Gasca at Taqueria del Mar, one of the First 100 charter participants in the HER Helmet Thursdays project.
Taqueria del Mar is also a great stop for kids who need a snack—when they’ve just had a meal!—and parents say “no more sweets.” Here a yummy, healthy snack costs as little as $2 (vegetarian soft-shell taco). Be sure to come back later and enjoy a full dinner, with options like prawn fajitas!
Monterey County Herald restaurant reviewer Raul N. wrote on 2/12/12, “Whenever anyone asks me where I go for Mexican food in Monterey, without skipping a beat, I reply ‘Taqueria del Mar’!” Read “Off the Menu: Unassuming Taqueria del Mar is one of the best-kept secrets on Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey.” And Taqueria del Mar is on the recommended list of the Monterey Institute of International Studies students, staff, and faculty among many other local fans!
Monterey’s Cannery Row:
Schooners Bistro on the Bay, Cafe La Strada, Vista Blue Spa
The Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is a good landmark for cyclists, as it is between Fisherman’s Wharf/Wharf #1 and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (It’s nearer the wharf end.) It is a handy stop for cyclists, with an ocean-front plaza open to the public (look for the fountain with the dolphin statues). And it also has…
a convenient bike rack adjacent to their glass-front coffee shop, Cafe La Strada.
Also, as the table signs say, no purchase is necessary to sit at the plaza tables. Enjoy the view! Then return later for a meal at Schooners Bistro on the Bay, just down the stairs, which shares the same vista.
Some tourists asked me on the bike path recently whether Schooners was “touristy,” meaning, do the locals really go there and find this is a place of genuine value. Yes! Schooners is one of those uncommon waterfront places with outdoor dining in Monterey County–and the food is delicious. Better yet, Schooners Bistro, Cafe La Strada, and even the rooftop Vista Blue Spa are all participants in HER Helmet Thursdays!
Below: Across Del Monte Avenue from the Class I bike path, tucked away next to Doty’s Autos, is HER Helmet Thursdays spot Pico de Gallo, a locals’ favorite. Best crossing spot? Casa Verde Avenue; then bike north on Del Monte or walk your bike up the sidewalk. It’s a very worthwhile, for Hugo and Berniece will be there, cooking up fresh food with tantalizing flavors.
Help Monterey County restaurants in “keeping it green”
Dining at a restaurant and have leftovers? Or, picking up restaurant carry-out? Acknowledge those restaurants that are “keeping it green” by complying with local bans on polystyrene/styrofoam. And put those that aren’t yet complying on notice. How? Use the Monterey County Weekly’s quick and easy-to-use online “Polystyrene Tracking Sheet.”
Alternatively, contact the restaurant manager directly. Restauranteurs are busy people, with a lot to keep track of ! Don’t assume they don’t care if they still use styro; instead, trust that they want to do the right thing and will appreciate a polite reminder.
“Everyone is welcome to enjoy the Dolphin Plaza, it isn’t just for hotel guests. It’s right below me, just off the trail….”
Educational attractions and entertainment venues
The National Steinbeck Center was one of the first charter HER Helmet Thursdays participants in Salinas.
Salinas: National Steinbeck Center
You’ll find many entertainment opportunities along the bikeways.
Examples? Well, personally, I’m a big live music fan. One spot near the bikeways that is thick with both live music and HER Helmet Thursdays spots is Cannery Row at Prescott. You’re smack in the midst of HER Helmet Thursdays live music spots Jose’s Lounge Underground and Bullwacker’s, plus nearby live music venues Blue Fin and Sly McFly’s. There’s other live music in the vicinity too, such as lounge music at the Clement.
You’ll find educational and entertainment spots to suit a multitude of tastes here, and again, that’s near the bikeways! Here are a few examples:
- Live music, as mentioned above, directly on the Cannery Row bike path.
- Theatre (including historic California First Theatre), near the bike path’s Wharf I/Old Fisherman’s Wharf stretch.
- The National Steinbeck Center and a variety of museums are in HER Helmet Thursdays, e.g., Museum of Monterey, MY Museum (the Monterey Youth Museum), Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada, and Monterey Museum of Art-Pacific Street.
- Nature attractions – One example is the monarch butterflies that migrate here in October to over-winter in Pacific Grove. The Monarch Grove Sanctuary is just across from the highly celebrated and much-loved Parents Place at Pacific Grove Adult School. If you’re at Lover’s Point on the bike path, these two neighboring community “hot spots” are an easy ride through residential neighborhoods of PG.
- Art galleries (including the kid-favorite Rip Squeak on Cannery Row).
- And much more.
The visitors below just learned that Museum of Monterey gives discounts if you bike there on Thursdays!
Drinking and biking: with a special tip for wine-lovers
If you consume alcohol, a plus about biking is that you can have a few extra drinks and not worry about a DUI (driving under the influence) ticket, right? Wrong. You’d still be subject to a BUI (biking under the influence) ticket! Refer to VC 21200.5 in this overview of California bicycle laws. The California Department of Motor Vehicles indicates a BUI fine of not more than $250, whereas they state that the cost of a DUI can total $8,240 or more. Regardless, driving under the influence isn’t cool, whatever your mode of transportation.
Does that mean you can’t use a bicycle for transportation if you enjoy alcohol? Au contraire! You simply use the same good judgment about when it’s safe to get behind those handlebars that you would use about when it’s time to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Okay, that’s out of the way! Now for…
The pleasures of cycling from winery to winery
Have you seen the many cyclists in Napa and Sonoma, biking from winery to winery? You’ll be seeing more and more of that in Monterey County, thanks to the early leadership of wineries who are sowing the seeds for a special MoCo welcome to wine-loving cyclists.
Baywood Cellars, Scheid Vineyards, and Pierce Vineyards are the first wineries to come into the HER Helmet Thursdays project. They are giving discounts on all wine sales to cyclists on Thursdays. These charter participants were soon joined by Cima Collina Winery Tasting Room and Heller Estates Organic Vineyards. Watch for more HHT wineries to come, or invite your favorite now.
Monterey: Baywood Cellars
She only has a few minutes before she’s due at one of her violin gigs. Take a raincheck, Laurel–and bike back on a Thursday for discounts on wine sales!
Biking for Brew
Pictured below is the newest, on its packed and eagerly anticipated opening day, 6 June 2011: Post No Bills Beer in Sand City. Bike rack right out front! Follow Post No Bills on Twitter @PostNoBillsBeer.
Sand City: Post No Bills Beer
HER Helmet Thursdays
People on bikes get special treatment at nearly 200 (as of June 2011) hotels/other lodging, educational attractions and entertainment venues, and restaurants/other food and beverage service–including wineries–throughout bike-friendly Monterey County.
On Thursdays year-round, males and females biking in Monterey County are offered discounts–just because they ride a bike! H-E-R=Hotels, and other lodging businesses; Entertainment venues and Educational attractions; and Restaurants and other establishments that serve food and beverages are the participating H-E-R businesses and organizations. To learn more, check these quick links about HER Helmet Thursdays. Or, go straight to the listings for all HER Helmet Thursdays participants.
If you’re a visitor and are interested in establishing a HER Helmet Thursdays project back home, check out this overview. If you are in charge of an H-E-R type of business or organization in Monterey County and would like to participate, you may sign up online or contact me.