Use the parking lot in the old eucalyptus grove on Del Monte Avenue, across from the Naval Postgraduate School. Find a spot in the lot early, lace the walking shoes and spend a day along the coolest four-mile stroll in California.
Our favorite stops along the way:
The best refreshment stop along the way, with easy access from the trail and outdoor seating.
550 Wave St.
Municipal Wharf 2
Walk the boards past pier fishermen, stop for a bite at the Sandbar & Grill, visit the Royal Seafood fish shop and enjoy the most expansive view of Monterey Bay.
Away from the madding crowd, a quiet respite not a few hundred steps from the trail, behind the Pacific House Museum at Custom House Plaza.
The best picnic spot in California.
San Carlos Beach
Cool your heels in the grass and watch the scuba divers cavort in the kelp beds.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The cornerstone of Cannery Row presents the full splendor of Monterey Bay's sea life.
Monterey History & Maritime Museum
A quick immersion into Monterey's colorful seafaring past.
Jose's Mexican Bar & Grill
Cool off with a shrimp cocktail and a cold cerveza in this no-fuss restaurant operating out of a converted old home overlooking the trail.
638 Wave St.
Funky, fun and good eats.
Visitors can while away an entire day in a three-block area at the C Restaurant, Steinbeck Plaza, the Bear Flag Building, a zillion shops and — if you're alert — Ed Ricketts' original laboratory.
Stops along the wayThe Steinbeck House.
Birthplace and boyhood home to author John Steinbeck, the Queen Anne style Victorian house is now a luncheon restaurant. The house was purchased by The Valley Guild, a group of Salinas women with a common interest in gourmet cooking who wanted to showcase Salinas Valley produce. It opened on Feb. 27, 1974, the 72nd anniversary of Steinbeck's birth. The food is great, the atmosphere is Steinbeckian ... and don't forget to visit The Best Cellar gift shop downstairs.
132 Central Avenue, Salinas. Reservations for lunch are recommended. 424-2735.
Bixby Creek Bridge.
Eighteen miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Bixby Bridge is among the most photographed spans on the West Coast.
Late note: Check road conditions on Highway 1 before embarking on this venture.
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.
Birds, geology, butterflies, native plants, mammals and culture dominate. Special exhibits and lectures abound. Permanent exhibits include the Native Plant Garden, a section on Native Americans and one of the most extensive bird collections on the West Coast.
165 Forest Ave.