June 13, 2018

My daughter has been planning Mother/Daughter trips for us both since 2016 when she surprised me with a nearly month long trip to Norway and Ireland. This year, Rachel planned a belated Mother's Day trip to California.

Rachel has been to California before, but this was my first trip there. We flew from Philadelphia via Spirit Airlines. The lack of legroom was a bit disappointing to both of us, but Rachel couldn't beat the price she found. We shared a carry-on sized suitcase and each brought large purses to avoid any extra luggage fees.

We flew from Philadelphia to LAX where we grabbed an Uber-Pool to the Amtrak. Rachel's traveled this line before when visiting her best friend, Britt while she was studying Photography in Santa Barbra.
The Amtrak ride north from Los Angeles is relaxing and beautiful. You even travel right along the ocean of the Pacific Coast highway at points. Book tickets on off-peak hours with unreserved seating for the lowest price. Purchase snacks at the station ahead of time, or buy food directly on the train itself, because it has a dining car.

Once in Santa Barbra, we picked up our rental car and drove for an additional four hours before arriving in Monterey, California. It was a long trip, but we realized from road-tripping Norway and Ireland together, that we can drive after a long flight. As long as we keep each other fed, no one gets murdered...
It was nearly eight o'clock when we finally got to Monterey, and we both just wanted some comfort food and to get settled. We spent two nights at Portola Hotel and Spa. They upgraded our room and gave us a bottle of wine when we arrived! Rachel had her project with work, but wrote the hotel explaining that this was for a belated mother's day and early birthday gift for me!
Thank you, Portola Hotel & Spa for the wine!
Spicy Crab Cake & Avocado Eggs Benedict
Rachel found the most delicious Brunch spot in Monterey. You will not be disappointed when you spend your mornings at Crema. The make everything fresh and have a beautiful farm to table vibe. If you get there early, you and your friends can ask to sit in the orangery style, glass room off of the main dining room. it's a circular class room and provides great views of the town.
Spiced Apples, Maple Syrup and Toasted Pecans with cream.
 This is a more than one visit in the same vacation type brunch spot. Enjoy the breakfast style nooks, or venture over to their espresso bar with organic teas, coffee and beautiful latte art. Bring your iPad or a book and relax in their work space. This is a great place to spend your time and help support local business over chain spots.

We checked out a few local spots. I was super excited and found a local run Upholstery business. My family has been in the Upholstery business since I was little. It's now owned and managed by my brother, Pat McCarty. It's become my little tradition where I try to find a local upholstery business, take a picture, and frame it to hang in the shop back in Jamison, Bucks County. If you're in the tri-state area, and you want quality work, check out McCarty Upholstery. I will say though, that this place in Monterey has the views we are missing. Step out and look down at the ocean.

If you're looking for things to do while exploring Monterey, California I will always suggest you ask a local. They'll always suggest something that isn't on the tourist list. You should also checkout SeeMonterey for a list of things do to and current events.

We found street parking to avoid the lot fees, and spent our morning exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a wonderful experience with beautiful views. If you book with Portola Hotel and Spa, you get two days for the price of one. Don't expect to find discounts, but at the same time, know that the funds have gone to helping the aquarium. Everyone we spoke to was extremely passionate and excited to educate us about any of the marine creatures they have to offer too. Highly recommended.
Monterey has a lot to offer, but I would recommend you take a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Rachel made sure we checked out one of John Steinbeck's summer cottage's where he wrote Grapes of Wrath. There's his family home where you can visit, but Rachel found one of the summer cottages through Airbnb and friends. It's a fun place to stop stay at or stop by if you're a literary fan of his work. We weren't able to stay the night, but if we come back would stay there for sure.

The gardens are very well tended to here in Monterey. It's amazing to see plants that would only bloom in the summer in Pennsylvania flourish here in California.

We had one more night in Monterey. In the morning we found smoothies and walked along the water to see some seals and jumped back into the car to ventured back to Los Angeles. If seemed like a much faster drive back down than it was up north. Does anyone else feel this way? The trip home always goes by faster for me.
Rachel found this beautiful boy outside at an organic farm on the side of the road. I bought a fresh fruit pie for us to snack on at the hotel. We took a rush-hour break and ate tacos in Santa Barbra. If you want the best tacos in Santa Barbra, but sure to check out, East Beach Tacos.
Everything is made fresh as you order. We devoured these and a side order of taquitos. We could have ordered more, but behaved and continued on our journey to Los Angeles.

I'll post more tomorrow with our stay at The Line Hotel in Koreatown, followed by Palihouse in Santa Monica.

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