— Madeline Martha Mackenzie
Months before my move to Monterey, the opening sequence of HBO’s hit miniseries “Big Little Lies” was my first peek at the new town I’d call home.
It begins with a beautiful drive down highway 1: Waves crash against the rocks. Bixby Bridge towers over pristine ocean views. And a stretch of misty mountains sits against California’s rugged coastline.
Needless to say, I was geeked to drive along this scenic route for a grand welcoming into Monterey.
But in May, just weeks before my move, a massive landslide cascaded down Highway 1, burying a quarter mile of the road with dirt and rocks.
So my husband and I took the backroads into Monterey. We drove by sprawling hillsides, rustic ranches and farms before we made it into town that day. Though the countryside scenery was lovely and deserves appreciation, my first impressions of Monterey felt stifled. It was hard for me to let go of Big Sur and fantasies I harbored of my own Madeline-esque adventure along the coast.
But over the next few days, the crabbiness left me as I saw more of the town.
Our first day exploring, we rode down Del Monte Avenue, which leads you to the historic district and Fisherman’s Wharf. Meanwhile, the bay sits calmly along the route as a central fixture to every experience in Monterey.
Having lived in the city for a few years, I was afraid Monterey wouldn’t provide much accessibility. But I’m happily surprised by the transportation options. A free trolley takes you to popular attractions in town — including the aquarium and Cannery Row. A coastal recreation trail spans 18 miles and offers gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. And if you’re ever itching for cityscapes, The airport Airbus takes you all the way up to San Francisco.
More good news: I finally got to see Big Sur. The iconic roadway is still open if you hit it from the north side of Highway 1 and it’s less than an hour from Monterey. We took the drive up on a whim. So the trip was a little rushed and the tourist crowds are pretty thick this time of year. But right now I’m just grateful I have the opportunity to see it at all. While Big Sur is a major sightseeing destination in California, I’m amazed to discover how many more breathtaking gems are hidden around town. I plan to see them all.
Check back frequently for new photos of this beautiful city.
Visiting the area soon? Watch out for a regularly updated shortlist of what to do, eat and see in Monterey and an upcoming blog on some of the filming locations for “Big Little Lies”.