Best of Monterey Bay Visitor Guide 2011 – Shopping
The skinny on getting the goods.
Friday, July 1, 2011
To shop or not to shop. That is not the question, at least around cobblestoned Carmel-by-the-Sea, character-rich American Tin Cannery and lush Del Monte Center. It’s a foregone conclusion. Whether visitors are looking for trendy, contemporary, vintage or retro, Monterey County has it in the bag – your shopping bag, to be more specific. Here come the classic quilted handbags (from Ocean Avenue’s Girl Boy Girl), Chinese chinoiserie ginger pots (Moss Landing’s Hamlin Antiques), sleek vegetable graters (Del Monte Center’s Williams-Sonoma), onyx waterproof binoculars (Marina’s REI), Stephen King’s spine-chilling latest best sellers (Sand City’s Borders Books), and cherry red fireman trucks or Tinker Bell plush dolls (Cannery Row’s Tiny Tot Toys and Gifts). Not unlike the scenery along this stretch of the California coast, the opportunity for savvy acquisitions – perhaps disguised as “souvenirs” or “memories of Monterey” – are hard to miss.
Ocean Avenue | Small boutiques rule the day on Carmel-by-the-Sea’s main shopping drag. Although the most conspicuous commodity for sale is art, there’s a wide range of shops carrying exquisite clothing, lingerie, shoes, jewelry and handcrafted goods. Along Ocean Avenue from Carpenter Road to Monte Verde Street, Carmel.
Carmel Plaza | The Plaza is home to about 40 carefully curated restaurants and shops, including galleries, jewelry stores and several upscale retail shops, like Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, J. Crew and Anthropologie, in addition to home goods featuring the likes of Sur La Table and Homescapes, all in a sun-dappled courtyard setting. Ocean and Mission, Carmel. 624-0138.
Crossroads Shopping Village | Almost a separate township unto itself, the Crossroads includes among its 70 shops and restaurants a Safeway grocery store and CVS for essentials, as well as small specialty shops boasting art and fine jewelry and proud eateries like Rio Grill and Bistro 211. Highway 1 and Rio Road, Carmel. 625-4106.
The Barnyard | Here lies a variety of locally owned restaurants and boutiques specializing in couture clothing, golf apparel, jewelry and shoes, as well as spa and salon services. The 50 shops nestle into a charming open-air complex with a rustic theme and include newcomers Bay Bikes and The Garden Party, which quench all of your cycling and organic backyarding needs, respectively. Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. 624-8886.
Carmel Valley Village | With a quirky and interesting assortment of shops, wine-tasting rooms, cafés, restaurants and art galleries, this is the place for indoor and outdoor décor shops. You could well leave here with a collection of gorgeous Mexican tiles or a whimsical sculpture for the garden. Thirteen miles east of Highway 1 on Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley.
The Dunes | The county’s newest big-box haven includes basic essentials found at Target, apparel for the entire family at Kohl’s or Old Navy, home nuggets from Bed, Bath & Beyond and Michael’s, recreational gear from REI and tech tools from Best Buy. East of Highway 1 (take Twelfth Street exit) and south of Imjin Parkway, Marina.
Alvarado Street | This is the heart of Monterey, where 200-year-old adobes sit beside sleek new buildings that reinterpret the ubiquitous Spanish Colonial style. Along Alvarado and its side streets, an assortment of boutiques sell everything from chic, unique gifts, to ethnic jewelry and textiles, to trendy and affordable fashions (both used and new) and shoes. A tobacconist, cafés, lively bars and ethnic restaurants round out the appeal of this relaxed but upbeat downtown. Along Alvarado Street from Munras Avenue to Del Monte Avenue, Monterey.
Del Monte Center | Lucky Brand Jeans, Lucy, GAP, Banana Republic, Apple, Williams-Sonoma – who’s to say which is the biggest draw in the outdoor shopping mecca? The 675,000-square-foot center also features locally owned shops, family restaurants and national stores including Macy’s and Whole Foods Market, not to mention a 13-screen movie theater. Highway 1 and Munras Avenue, Monterey. 373-2705.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row | Both popular tourist destinations, these locations offer a plethora of gift shops and fine seafood restaurants, plus bars and nightclubs. Cannery Row also has several art galleries and features the Monterey Bay Aquarium (with its own gift shop) and the ever-popular seaview Recreation Trail.
It’s all about character here in this up-and-coming business district along the main thoroughfare linking downtown Monterey and Pacific Grove. Antique shops, fashion boutiques and home furnishing stores rub elbows with tattoo parlors, used book and record stores and surf shops, while a bevy of small ethnic restaurants invites shoppers to stop and refuel. Along Lighthouse Avenue, between Monterey and Pacific Grove.
Those with a hankering for antiques and Mexican folk art will quench that fix here. Funky little cottages throughout the village have been converted into antique stores and art galleries selling everything from curios to china hutches. The New Shakespeare Sanctuary houses rare books, Globe Theatre models and all types of museum pieces and memorabilia. Weekend arts, crafts and jewelry fairs also appeal to treasure hunters. The authentic fishing village atmosphere adds to the experience. Treat yourself at one of several seafood cafés or restaurants. Intersection of Highway 1 and Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing.
American Tin Cannery | More than just an outlet center, the Tin Cannery, located in the original 1927 American Can Company and just a stone’s throw from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is a destination for anyone who enjoys finding gems in unexpected places. Unique boutiques, a doggy spa and possibly the most fashionable sock shop in three counties have taken up residence here along with, of course, the outlets, including Bass, Nine West, Izod, Pendleton, Van Heusen and Reebok. 125 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove.
Downtown Pacific Grove | Shoppers who are looking for home furnishings, women’s fashions and accessories hit paydirt here amid the Victorian charm of “America’s Last Hometown.” There’s also a modest collection of vintage, consignment and upscale resale boutiques. Standout seafood and rustic American restaurants round out the destination. Forest and Lighthouse avenues, Pacific Grove.
Sand City | Seaside
Edgewater and Sand Dollar Shopping Centers | Tiny Sand City has become a primary destination for big-box shoppers on the Peninsula. The intersection of Playa and California avenues bisects the shopping district, with Costco on one end and Borders Books at the other (and stores like Target, Ross, Marshalls, Sports Authority and Orchard Supply Hardware in between). Unwind with a latte from Starbucks or a pedicure from Angel Nails before heading across to Seaside’s Cost Plus, on the corner of Fremont Boulevard and Playa Avenue.
Northridge Shopping Center/Harden Ranch | Located virtually across the street from each other near the intersection of Boronda Road and North Main Street off Highway 101, Northridge and Harden Ranch combine to form a destination location for many serious local shoppers. A complete array of big-name department, book, grocery, toy, jewelry, sports, pet, hardware and furniture stores make this a one-stop shopping district that’s right beside a 10-plus screen movie theatre. North Main Street and Boronda Road, Salinas.
Oldtown Salinas | Most – if not all – of life’s necessities can be found in Oldtown Salinas, in the shadow of the National Steinbeck Center on South Main. Coffee? Clothing? Cocktails? No problem. A preponderance of turn-of-the century buildings are home to an increasing number of approachable restaurants, hip clothing boutiques, home furnishing and antique stores. Along Main Street from West San Luis Street to Central Avenue, Salinas.