MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif., July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Check the tires and tune up the iPod, the quintessential California road trip is on the comeback. As the recession continues to hold court and bank balances sway like palm trees in the wind, families are turning to the classic American road trip as an alternative to fly/drive getaways. "The road trip is poised to make a comeback ... despite the lingering recession and rising prices at the pump," AAA reports. Monterey County sits front and center as a choice destination for the ultimate drive. Whether Scenic Highway 1 or the classic 17-Mile Drive, combining a city/country itinerary is a sure bet for travelers this season.
FROM THE DUNES TO THE REDWOODS
If Monterey County's spectacular coastline is your calling, consider Highway 1. Designated as California's first scenic highway and a National Scenic Byway, Highway 1 lures travelers with its ever-changing cliffs, pounding surf, spouting whales and dramatic sky-scapes. This scenic highway will take you along California's most amazing stretch of coastline, from Moss Landing to Big Sur, with lunar-like dunes giving way to sheer mountain cliffs rising from the ocean to the majestic coastal mountain range.
Tucked along the Pacific-side of artichoke fields cascading to the sea lies Moss Landing, a coastal town steeped in charm and outback adventure. Road warriors come for the good eats at the Whole Enchilada and pristine shoreline stretching across Moss Landing State Beach. Naturalists come for the real deal: this is birding country, kayaking heaven and classic California before the crowds. Serious shoppers know that the Stella Page Design studio is located in sleepy Moss Landing like uncovering an unbroken sand dollar on the beach, uncovering these beautiful designs is like finding a hidden treasure. http://tiny.cc/8YwXP
A haven for kite boarders and hang-gliders, Marina Dunes Preserve and Marina State Beach deliver an astral seascape, punctuated with surfers silently riding the horizon. Dip in for quick surf or glide, but bring your own gear. http://tiny.cc/ly0XO
Seaside, also along scenic Highway 1, is a top stop for families looking to re-bond and re-boot along the shoreline, swing a few golf clubs or hit the bike trails. This quaint city is quietly undergoing an evolution into a resort destination anchored by Seaside State Beach and Ford Ord, the former military base now open for exploration with an impressive network of 86 miles of scenic mountain bike trails and wild flowers. New: Four miles of sandy coast called Ford Ord Dunes Sate Park just opened. http://tiny.cc/kJrVO
Traveling South, explorer's drop into Sand City which lays claim to a vibrant artists' community, dubbed "SoHo West." One of the state's leaders in the live-work movement, the city's creative rehabilitation of old properties into artist's lofts and retail/residential units is a study in lifestyle ergonomics. For a snapshot of all things art, the light industrial-cum-loft area in the West End offers a great escape for enthusiasts. The region also sports a Theatre District, bevy of coffee shops, bookstores, boutiques and of course - plenty of sand. http://tiny.cc/zqduP
A respite for romantics, artists and Hollywood "A" listers, Carmel has a cache of offbeat excursions and inns that won't break the bank. If you are traveling with Fido, tap into Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the nation's top dog-friendly haunts with leash-free beaches and nearly 30 dog-friendly restaurants and inns. Once a Bohemian playground drawing the likes of Ansel Adams, Jack London, Robinson Jeffers, Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair, today visitors are more likely to run into ex-mayor Clint Eastwood (1986-1990), Pebble Beach players and celebrities seeking a bit of solace. http://tiny.cc/anu4Q
Hikers who value nature at its naked best can head South on Highway 1 and experience true bliss at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, home to some of the region's most dramatic seascapes and thousands of seabirds, seals, sea lions and migrating whales. Noted as "The crown jewel of the state park system," Point Lobos is also home to the only two naturally growing strands of Monterey Cypress trees remaining on earth and a stunning lineup of beaches worthy of film credits. Top picks include China Cove (filming spot of The Sandpiper with Elizabeth Taylor) and Gibson Beach. http://tiny.cc/1dZwH
Urbanites seeking a sybaritic sojourn should keep heading south and high tail it along California's craggy coastline to the ultimate out West bastion: Big Sur. Wild and rugged, the 90-mile stretch along Big Sur coastline is possibly the world's most beautiful drive. Located on Highway 1, Bixby Bridge is world famous and a favorite of photographers and film shoots. More than 700 feet long and 260 feet above the stream below, Bixby Bridge is one of the top ten highest single-span bridges in the world. The bridge is just one chapter in the story of this magnificent scenic highway. http://tiny.cc/XTdRg
From rustic cabins to world-class inns, Big Sur offers a variety of lodgings. Treebones Resort- named after the remnants of naked tree trunks from a working wood mill in the 1960s, and set on 10 sumptuous acres, this offbeat resort offers 16 comfortable Mongolian yurts with lights, heating, skydomes and a tasty waffle bar. http://tiny.cc/W3YEh
Novelists John Steinbeck and Henry Miller, poet Robinson Jeffers, and photographer Ansel Adams all documented the singular natural beauty and unique history of Monterey County: the fertile inland valleys, rolling hills of the Santa Lucia Mountain range, dramatic rock formations of Pinnacles National Monument, craggy coastline of Big Sur and the constantly changing waters of the Monterey Bay, now it's time for the intrepid road trippers to find out why. www.SeeMonterey.com
Monterey County is located 120 miles/192 km south of San Francisco and 345 miles/552 km north of Los Angeles along the classic California corridor. The region boasts 99 miles of prime Pacific Coastline, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, three historic missions, 40,000 acres of premium vineyards, 25 golf courses and over 200 lodging properties. Monterey County includes the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur, North County and the Salinas Valley. The Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY), just three miles from historic downtown Monterey and minutes from the area's major attractions, is served by non-stop flights to and from Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), Phoenix (PHX), Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN) and San Francisco (SFO). http://www.seemonterey.com/
SOURCE Monterey County Convention and Visitor's Bureau