Katherine’s Favorite Places in Monterey

By Katherine Hayeon Lee

Like most of you I was a complete stranger to Monterey before starting at MIIS. With the panoramic backdrop of lush ocean waves in every corner and small pockets of quaint beauty sprinkled throughout—this town often feels like a privilege to inhabit. But let’s be real—even with all the Monterey goodness at our fingertips, our eyes are ever glued to the printouts of our study material (i.e. the indomitable quest called Sight Translation) or a blinking cursor on an empty screen waiting for us to take that Korean text into English. Myself being no exception, I reveled in the comforts(?) of Samson Center a little too much. Fortunately, in just a year I gathered a handful of places that I treasure most here in this town that makes the thought of leaving pretty unbearable. Join me as I share some of my favorite spots in our temporary hometown of Monterey.

Stress-busting Scenic Drive

When you take yourself on the waterfront Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail towards Pacific Grove, you will pass the famous Lover’s Point, but it’s really the drive past tourist-ridden Lover’s Point that I really love. You can sometimes spot seals relaxing on the kelp forests along the coast, and the view of the ocean—looking uniquely different in every part of the day—is always an effective antidote to stress. Between early April and late May, a magnificent sight of purple ice plants called the “Magic Purple Carpet” springs up all along the coast (pictured below). It’s a must-see!

Thinking, ‘how can one translate well?’

Looking the wrong way. 색감은 실화입니다.

Del Monte Beach <3’s In-N-Out

One of the quietest beaches in the area. There are benches and picnic tables along a beautiful beach, and the proximity to In-N-Out Burger makes it a perfect spot for an impromptu picnic in between classes.

Iced Americano Done Right

There are many cute cafes in the area, but there’s no 아아 like the Americano at Bright Coffee on Lighthouse Ave. Perfectly roasted and balanced, you won’t need any flavoring. Décor is almost too hipster for Monterey, but that’s never a bad thing. Check out the co-op gift shop called Lilify full of chic artisan goods while you wait.

White and gray awning—always right.

Fine Italian on a Shoestring Budget

Il Vecchio is a Roman style restaurant with an adorable rustic décor and friendly service. It’s one of those places you could either dress up or down. Mostly frequented by locals, Il Vecchio is a solid choice for lunch and dinner. Worker’s Lunch, served weekdays between 12 to 1:30pm is the REAL DEAL. For $10.85, you get a large serving of their PERFECTLY dressed artisan salad (it’s perfectly tart and a little sweet) and their daily special of pasta and one protein topping (like garlic tomato cod). Each course is cooked to order and served tableside. If you got some room to spare, make sure you try their house-made tiramisu (it’s amore).

One fine evening at Il Vecchio

Sushi. Fancy.

My favorite food is sushi. Akaoni in Carmel is hands down the best sushi in the area. They are pricey and making a reservation could be a challenge (they are called “sushi Nazis” on yelp) but for a good reason. They have the freshest, most authentic sushi and amazing appetizers like homemade tofu and softshell crab that will rock your world. Tip: Always try to make a reservation. If not, go early (avoid peak dinner times) and try to get the window seat that faces the street. Don’t lose heart when the owner and the waitress looks at you coldly (it seems to be their M.O.), they will reluctantly let you in if they have room.

Silky housemade tofu

Sashimi situation

Sushi. Casual.

Sushi Time in Seaside is one of those “fusion” sushi spots. It’s far from authentic or polished, but portions are big and the prices are low, and they have really good lunch and dinner specials. They also have surprising homeruns like Beef Udon, Popcorn Lobster Roll, and the best one, for me, is their Sesame Chicken that closely mimics Korean 양념치킨!

Pretty Great Public Library

If you’d like a change-of-scene from the MIIS library, check out the Pacific Grove Public Library. Sprinkled with historic art and artifacts and great natural light, it even has a tiny art museum in the middle.

Very idyllic PGPL

$1 Darts

Easy Street Billiards is a friendly spot to shoot pool, but also a good spot to play some old-fashioned darts for $1 (yes, you read that right). There’s no time limit or anything, so it’s a great place to destress and socialize. They also serve inexpensive bar food!

Fitness, Anytime

24-hour fitness, but better. Anytime Fitness is a brand-new gym in the area stocked with 2017 equipment and maintained excellently despite being open 24/7. I have never seen the place too full, and the crowd seems friendly (several MIIS students spotted). You will get the best deal if you sign up for a whole year, but do watch out for promotions on their facebook page. I am a newbie exerciser, so I try to stick to a 10-10-10 routine: 10 min on the treadmill, 10 min on the elliptical, 10 min on the stairmaster. It’s the effort that counts.


Thanks for reading! The list is far from exhaustive, so if you ever see me on campus, please share with me YOUR Monterey favorites!

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.