One of my faves: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve (so named for the wolf-like barking of sea lions who hang out here). What's to do? Hiking, winter bird watching, photography, and wildlife watching (look for 250+ animal and bird species in this 544-acre park). head for the ocean-front perimeter trail or just hit the key points including Cypress Grove, home to one of two naturally growing strands of Monterey Cypress in the world, Bird Island, Whaler's Cove and China Cove. The sight of the jade-green waters, crashing waves and fresh breezes of Point Lobos' is a sure cure for anyone's cabin fever.
And if I'm in a Jack Kerouac road-trippy kind of mood, a drive down to Big Sur (depending on road conditions on Hwy One), and a gander at the classic lines of the 1932 Bixby Creek Bridge, will do the trick. It's quite the marvel, stretching 714 feet long and one of the top ten highest single-span bridges in the world; it's so lovely, they're honoring it with a stamp Feb. 3!
Details: Any excuse for a package deal, right? Along with the new stamp, area hotels have teamed up to offer a "Bixby Bridge Package" this winter. Big Sur River Inn (accommodations, breakfast and dinner for two starting at $160/dbl). Treebones Resort, with 16 upscale yurt accommodations (two-night mid-week stay with breakfast at 20 percent off, starting at $124.00/dbl. per night). The Post Ranch Inn, (two nights' accommodations, two one-hour spa treatments, dinner at Sierra Mar and daily breakfast starting at $2120.00/dbl). Ventana Inn & Spa ($250.00/dbl. rate including a complimentary upgrade and $50 resort credit for the luxury spa or restaurant). Or try a quaint cottage at Big Sur Lodge, in Julia Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, (breakfast and guided hike with bag lunch for two at $180.00/dbl). NOTE: packages exclude taxes and are based on availability, restrictions and blackout periods apply. For more lodging and dining, check www.SeeMonterey.com.