Peninsula planner

MONTEREY

For general area information, contact the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau (closed Sat-Sun; 150 Olivier St.; www.montereyinfo.org or 831/649-1770).

ACTIVITIES

Adventures by the Sea. Three-hour guided kayak tours $50; kayak rentals $30 a day. Three-hour bike tours $50; bicycle rentals from $6 an hour. 299 Cannery Row and 201 Alvarado Mall; www.adventuresbythesea.com or (831) 372-1807.

Custom House. At one time, all goods entering California had to go through this mid-1800s point of entry. From here, you can take a self-guided walking tour of Monterey history (brochures available on-site and at www.oldmonterey.org). Closed Wed; free. (831) 649-7118.

A Taste of Monterey Wine Visitors' Center. Wines poured from more than 45 of the county's wineries, with sweeping views of the bay. 11-6 daily; $5 tasting. 700 Cannery Row; www.tastemonterey.com or (831) 646-5446.

DINING

The Bakery at 481. Excellent pastries, breads, and lunchtime panini in colorful downtown cafe. 481 Alvarado; (831) 648-1481.

Lighthouse Bistro. Mediterranean eatery in a renovated house. Closed Tue. 401 Lighthouse Ave.; (831) 649-0320.

LODGING

Jabberwock Bed & Breakfast. Cozy rooms on hill above Cannery Row with playful Alice in Wonderland theme. From $145. 598 Laine St.; www.jabberwockinn.com, (888) 428-7253, or (831) 372-4777.

Monterey Hotel. Quaint rooms in four-story 1904 building downtown; no elevator. From $139. 406 Alvarado; www.montereyhotel.com or (831) 375-3184.

Old Monterey Inn. Gracious rooms and suites in a large, beautiful stuccoed home, the former residence of Monterey mayor Carmel Martin. From $240. 500 Martin St.; www.oldmontereyinn.com or (800) 350-2344.

Spindrift Inn. Stylishly renovated rooms with fireplaces, overlooking ocean or Cannery Row in one of the area's first hotel buildings. From $199. 652 Cannery Row; www.spindriftinn.com, (800) 841-1879, or (831) 646-8900.

PACIFIC GROVE

For general information, contact the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce (584 Central Ave.; www.pacificgrove.org or 800/656-6650).

ACTIVITIES

See Pacific Grove Architecture.

DINING

Passionfish. Understated dining room serves stellar sustainably fished seafood dishes. Intriguing, reasonably priced wine list. Dinner only; closed Tue. 701 Lighthouse Ave.; (831) 655-3311.

Red House Cafe. Tasty meals and pastries in restored barn-red house. Closed Mon. 662 Lighthouse; (831) 643-1060.

Robert's White House. The newest restaurant from notable local chef Robert Kincaid offers a $24 three-course meal of beautifully prepared formal dishes. Closed Mon. 649 Lighthouse; (831) 624-9626.

Taste Cafe & Bistro. On State 68; California-style European dishes. Dinner only; closed Mon. 1199 Forest Ave.; (831) 655-0324.

LODGING

Green Gables Inn. Circa-1888 Queen Anne Victorian overlooking the ocean has 11 rooms. From $120. 301 Ocean View Blvd.; www.foursisters.com, (800) 722-1774, or (831) 375-2095.

Inn at 213 Seventeen Mile Drive. The 1925 building is decorated in Craftsman style; near downtown. From $145. 213 17-Mile Dr.; www.innat17.com, (800) 526-5666, or (831) 642-9514.

Seven Gables Inn. Overlooking the bay, the family-run inn has 14 Victorian rooms filled with stained glass and antiques. Accommodations in two cottages and two main buildings, including the original 1886 house. From $175. 555 Ocean View; www.pginns.com or (831) 372-4341.

CARMEL VALLEY

For general area information, contact Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce (call for hours; 13 W. Carmel Valley Rd.; www.carmelvalleychamber.com or 831/659-4000).

WINE TASTING

Strung along Carmel Valley Road are a handful of wineries and tasting rooms where you can sample a range of vintages coming out of the valley and beyond. Here's a cluster of our favorites, listed in the order you'd come to them when driving through the village. The drive itself is a lovely bonus.

Heller Estate (formerly Durney Vineyards). Good organic wines ― especially the Merlot ― in bright, friendly tasting room with Toby Heller sculptures in the garden. $3 tasting. 69 W. Carmel Valley; www.hellerestate.com or (831) 659-6220.

Georis Winery. Tucked behind Corkscrew Restaurant, Georis's fine Merlots and Cabernets are paired with tasty nibbles in the courtyard of an old adobe building. On Oct 4, the winery hosts the fourth annual Carmel Valley Wine Festival ($50-$85; 831/659-6010). $10-$15 tasting. 4 Pilot Rd.; www.georiswine.com or (831) 659-1050.

Robert Talbott Vineyards. Excellent, lean Burgundian-style Chardonnay. $3 tasting. 53 W. Carmel Valley; (831) 659-3500 or www.talbottvineyards.com.

Chateau Sinnet. Interesting fruit-flavored wines (try peach and pomegranate). Estate wines will be available soon. $3 tasting. 13746 Center St.; (831) 659-2244.

Bernardus Winery. Their Marinus is one of the most impressive of the local Cabs. $5-$10 tasting. 5 W. Carmel Valley; (831) 659-1900 or www.bernardus.com.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Carmel Valley Road (G16). Drive the length of the valley, through oak groves and gently wild hills ― one of the most beautiful views of California still available.

Earthbound Farm's Farm Stand. Pick up organic fruit, vegetables, flowers, gifts, and garden tools at this refurbished facility. An all-organic kitchen offers smoothies and food to eat at nearby picnic tables. Tour fees vary; reservations recommended. 7250 Carmel Valley; www.ebfarm.com or (831) 625-6219.

Garland Ranch Regional Park. Hike or ride horses around golden meadows or along Santa Lucia ridges in this 3,464-acre park. Docent-led hikes on weekends. Free. 700 W. Carmel Valley; www.mprpd.org or (831) 659-4488.

Holman Ranch. Guided trail rides with views of the Salinas and Carmel Valleys; Riding lessons by appointment. From $40 for trail rides; fees for lessons vary. www.theholmanranch.com or (831) 659-6054.

Toni Venza Training at Garland View Stables. Primarily English lessons, by appointment, in this lovely, friendly little place. From $25 per hour. 456 W. Carmel Valley; (831) 659-4004.

DINING

Cafe Rustica. Great comfort food and wines in cozy stone-walled dining room. Closed Wed. 10 Delfino Place; (831) 659-4444.

Corkscrew Restaurant. Stop for pate (or calamari or pasta; the menu runs the gamut) in the courtyard of this rustic cafe. Great local wine list. 55 W. Carmel Valley; www.corkscrewcafe.com or (831) 659-8888.

Marinus at Bernardus Lodge. Chef Cal Stamenov is doing the most creative cooking in the county here. Reservations required. 415 Carmel Valley; (831) 658-3400.

Running Iron Restaurant & Saloon. Stop for a drink in this 1940s Old West-style saloon. 24 E. Carmel Valley; (831) 659-4633.

Will's Fargo Dining House & Saloon. Excellent steaks in historic roadside house. 11 3/4 W. Carmel Valley; (831) 659-2774.

LODGING

Bernardus Lodge. Chic but casual rooms and beautiful spa facilities. From $450. 415 Carmel Valley; www.bernardus.com or (831) 658-3400.

Carmel Valley Lodge. Pleasant motel-style rooms and family-friendly pool. From $169. 8 Ford Rd.; www.valleylodge.com or (831) 659-2261.

Los Laureles Lodge. Family resort built in 1870. Kids love the rooms in the converted stables. Poolside bar and good restaurant. From $105. 313 W. Carmel Valley; www.loslaureles.com or (831) 659-2233.

MONTEREY PENINSULA CLASSICS
Here are three more experiences you won't want to miss.

Carmel by-the-Sea City Beach. The much-loved white-sand beach stretches just south of Pebble Beach Golf Links. Dogs allowed on leash. West end of Ocean Ave.; www.carmelcalifornia.com or (831) 624-3543.

Monterey Bay Aquarium. This showplace for creatures of the 5,300-acre Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 20th anniversary next month. Though often crowded on weekends, it's a must-do. 10-6 daily; $18. 886 Cannery Row; www.montereybayaquarium.org or (831) 648-4888.

17-Mile Drive. Worth the $8.25 fee (refunded on purchases at Pebble Beach restaurants and shops). Better yet, bike the route. It's free this way, and you'll get a more leisurely look at the view. Drive or pedal the seaside route in one direction, then head inland for lesser-known delights such as the cypress groves of the Del Monte Forest.

Another great way to get an inexpensive taste of 17-Mile Drive is to have drinks on the patio at Roy's (in the Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17-Mile Dr.; 831/647-7500). From here you can take in the Scottish bagpiper closing the links at sunset. There are several entrances to 17-Mile Dr.: at State 1 in Monterey; at Sunset Dr., SFB Morse Dr., and State 68 in Pacific Grove; and at Ocean Ave. in Carmel.