Introduction A sea lion basks in the sun at Monterey's Coast Guard Pier while tourists eagerly snap photos. Soon bored with the attention, he slips into Monterey Bay's chilly waters and floats next to Fisherman's Wharf, where landlubbers feast on fresh catches at seafood restaurants or wait to board a whale-watch cruise. A gaggle of people aim their cameras at the sea lion, hoping for a souvenir-worthy shot, but instead he goes into an underwater nosedive, oblivious to the stylish boutiques, cafés and wine-tasting rooms lining Cannery Row.
flickr/Jon C Bruckman
Hardly breaking for air, the sea lion cruises by Lovers Point Beach, the stately white lighthouse at Point Pinos and pastel-colored Victorians in the seaside community of Pacific Grove. He passes golfers tackling challenging championship courses at Pebble Beach, motorists pulling over to admire the gorgeous views along 17-Mile Drive and beachgoers lazing the day away along Carmel's picture-perfect stretch of sand. Finally, he wriggles onto a sun-warmed rock at Seal Point, joining hundreds of his loudly barking kin at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This sea lion may not know it, but he's just traced a route that sums up the Monterey Peninsula's enduring appeal for generations of visitors.
Monterey Peninsula, CA
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.