West Coast Livin’

Hi from beautiful Monterey, California!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m out here for a press trip that starts today, but I came early to see my grad school friend Lauren!

She lives in San Diego and drove up to spend a whirlwind 24 hours with me before needing to get home for work. So wonderful to catch up with her – it had been too long! Last time I saw her was when she came to visit DC shortly after I found out I was pregnant. :) 

I arrived on Saturday mid afternoon and we made the most of our quick visit! 

First up, after we checked into our hotel, was a quick hike at nearby Point Lobos State Park.

point lobos state park

I’d been here once before with Matt back in 2015 when we were in the area for our friend’s wedding, so I remembered it being lovely. 

It felt so good to stretch my legs after a billion hours of flying!

point lobos state park

We spent about an hour out there before the park closed on us. 

We headed to adorable Carmel by the Sea to grab dinner, and stumbled into a cute Italian place called Porta Bella that was able to seat us right away. Perfect! Really friendly and attentive wait staff, too.

We shared everything: a salad, a starter lobster ravioli (so good), and a salmon dish (good but I didn’t love the cream sauce – too salty). 

porta bella carmel by the sea

porta bella carmel by the sea

By the time we got back to the hotel it was only about 9 west coast time, but considering that was 12 east coast time, I was done. Luckily Lauren was down for an early bedtime. :)

We proceeded to sleep until 8 the next morning and it. was. amaaaaazing. Lauren got up a little before me and went out to get us coffee and biscotti – so sweet of her! 

After taking our time getting ready, we headed out for a little jog. The cool weather felt so nice after the crazy heat + humidity we’ve had in DC lately! 

running in monterey california

There’s a path along the water in Monterey that’s lovely to run on – those views!

monterey california running

We found a cool beach area after about a mile and a half and stopped for awhile to climb on the rocks and wander around on the sand. 

We decided to put our feet in – brrrr, that was some seriously cold water!

3 miles – check!

We ran straight to Wave Street Cafe for brunch/lunch, which I highly recommend – cute place and great food! I had the shrimp tacos which were deeeelish.

wave street cafe

After our feast, we decided more outdoor adventures were in order. Lauren and I love traveling together because we have very similar styles – we both want to do outdoorsy stuff all day long, and then go to bed early. ;) It’s perfect!

Our hotel offered free bikes via a bike shop across the street, so we snagged a couple and headed out to explore more of the coast. 

biking monterey california

This was my kind of bike ride: insanely gorgeous and mostly flat. ;) 

The whole time we were both like “omg, these views are ridiculous!”

It helped that the weather was stunning – the sun had come out and it was in the low 70’s – perfection.

monterey biking

We biked from downtown Monterey along the coast to Asilomar State Beach, where we stopped and watched the surfers for awhile before heading back. 

asilomar state beach

I was starved when we got back so I got an egg and veggie wrap that hit the spot, plus a green juice. 

I was so sad to say goodbye to Lauren when we got back – wish she could have stayed longer! What a fun 24 hours – thanks again for coming all this way for such a quick visit, girl.

After Lauren left, I relaxed in the room for a bit and FaceTimed with Matt and Riese (there were so many cute kids at the beaches today and it made me miss her so much!) before getting ready for dinner.

Then I did something I’m proud of because it scares me: I went out to dinner alone.

As I wrote on Instagram, I don’t know if it’s because I’m an extrovert or because I’m worried other people will judge me, but eating dinner at a restaurant alone makes me super nervous. I was considering doing takeout or room service, but decided to be a big girl and treat myself to a fun solo meal at a nice restaurant instead.

And I’m so glad I did, because it ended up being lovely – so relaxing and refreshing! 

I went to a spot that was walking distance from my hotel called Osteria Al Mare. 

I started with the beet salad and a glass of prosecco…

osteria al mare

Before moving on to a delicious shrimp, scallop, and pasta dish. 

osteria al mare

It was such a lovely dinner – great food, and I snagged a seat outdoors and parked myself facing the water, which was so calming.

I purposefully sat and watched the water and did nothing else – no using my phone as a distraction or as a “I’m super busy and important and popular even though I’m alone” decoy. 

And it was so, so nice. 

After dinner, I walked around the marina area a bit exploring. 

Look what I found! So cute!

What a fun treat of a weekend. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a recipe, and in the meantime you can continue to follow my west coast adventures via Instagram!

Have you ever been to Monterey? 

Does dining out alone make you nervous, too? For some reason lunch doesn’t bother me – it feels more casual and socially acceptable, maybe, to be alone? But dinner, eek!


  1. 1

    So beautiful! I particularly like that last photo from your bike ride – frameworthy! And good for you for not letting your fears keep you from that lovely dinner.

  2. 4

    I travel a lot for work and have really embraced eating out alone! I don’t have kids yet, but it still seems so luxurious to treat yourself to dinner out! Sometimes I’ll read or sit at the bar, but whatever I do, it’s nice to order whatever you want and just enjoy people watching!

  3. 6
    TrackBuddy says

    WOW what a gorgeous trip!!! Now I want to go to Monterrey! I travel a lot for work so have had to embrace eating alone, although I usually am reading a book on my phone or chatting with people. I almost always sit at the bar and often end up having fun conversations with the bartender or other nice people who are eating alone too. :-)

    • 7

      I kind of felt like since I was alone I wanted to fully embrace it vs. talking to anyone, lol. It was nice to just relax and not worry about chatting! But I think if I were on a longer trip I’d probably do the bar thing because every night solo would get old.

  4. 8

    What a lovely weekend with great adventures! I used to be nervous about eating out alone but it no longer bothers me. It’s nice to enjoy a meal and enjoy some alone time. Good for you for getting out of your comfort zone! Looking forward to reading the rest of your adventures!

  5. 10

    I had such a blast! Seriously, such a great vacation and catch up time! Enjoy the rest of your time on the west coast.

  6. 12

    I live in Monterey and love to see my town through a tourists eyes. Makes me want to go out and play tourist. If you are still in town I’d recommend going to the wharf and eating there. We have so many wonderful locally owned restaurants. Safe travels.

  7. 14

    My husband and I went to Monterey/Carmel by the sea as part of our anniversary trip in 2017 and we loved it! I think you and I went to many of the same spots. The water was chilly when we went as well!

  8. 16

    What amazing views!! :D
    Good for you for treating yourself to a nice calming dinner out on the water :)

  9. 17
    Roadrunner says

    What a nice weekend! Envy you!
    I eat out and alone all the time when traveling; however, I typically take my iPad and read during dinner. I quite enjoy such meals and opportunities to read, frankly!

  10. 18

    I used to travel a lot for work so got very used to eating alone. Plus I’ve done some solo vacations to Paris so all of those meals were alone. Eating alone seems to be much more common in Europe from my experience. They usually have all the chairs on their patio facing the street instead of group tables so that chairs are facing each other. You sit so close together in many European restaurants that it’s hard to tell whose solo and who is with people they know. I pretty much always have a book or my kindle with me so I will often read while waiting for my food to arrive. Now that I have a toddler, I especially enjoy solo meals because eating with a toddler is not super relaxing. I took a day off work this summer and went out for a leisurely lunch before getting my hair cut. It was heavenly!

    Your time in CA has sounded awesome so far. Those views!!!! So fun that you got to spend time with a friend. That is probably the only thing I miss about work travel – I would often get to see friends if I flew in early or had a night free!

    • 19

      I love being able to squeeze in friend visits with work travel – such a nice bonus! And yeah totally agree on meals with a toddler not being super relaxing… :) Definitely makes dining alone more of a treat now especially!

  11. 20
    Susan Imwalle says

    We live in Monterey and it is always fun to see what visitors to our area do! I hope you make it to the aquarium, because it’s pretty spectacular (and has some good food in the on-site restaurant). We certainly don’t take advantage of all the great stuff around us for sure! Glad you’re enjoying yourself on your visit!

  12. 22

    I prefer eating alone! I usually get seated quicker when I’m by myself.

  13. 24

    I think the fact that you’re nervous about eating out alone means you’re more introverted than you realize ;) The food and scenery there look awesome!


  1. […] of the afternoons, I led the others on another fun bike ride – the same one I did on Sunday with my friend Lauren – and it was such a treat to get to do it […]

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