Best Volunteer Organization | Best Local NonProfit

SPCA for Monterey County

1002 Highway 68, Salinas, (831) 373-2631,

1988 saw the first issue of this very paper, then dubbed Coast Weekly. An incredible 83 years before that, the SPCA launched in Pacific Grove to address the problems of “stray dogs and cats about town,” as well as to discuss the “different diseases prevalent among horses” and to “investigate the abuse and fast driving of donkeys and horses.” They still do all of that – well, maybe without the driving of donkeys part – as well as enforce animal cruelty rules, provide veterinary care for rescued animals, and offer low-cost spay and neuter services. At last count they proffer volunteer opportunities in 12 separate categories, and 70 regular staffers are supported by 300-plus volunteers. It’s no wonder that people (and pets) now use ’80s monikers like “outta sight” and “awesome” to describe this forward-looking institution that’s been at the forefront of animal care for decades, servicing not only dogs and cats, but also horses, birds and even wildlife, 365 days a year.

Best Local Do-Gooder

Bruce Delgado

(831) 884-1278,

If you’ve ever seen Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado around town somewhere, chances are you’ve seen him smiling. There’s also a chance you’ve seen him picking up litter, something he often does on weekends in cleanups of the city’s parks. Whether working as a botanist by day in the Fort Ord National Monument, or as mayor the rest of the time – which includes appointments like serving on the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and Transportation Agency for Monterey County – Delgado is a tireless public servant devoted to making the world a better place, and he does it all with a smile.

Best TV News Personality

Dan Green

KSBW Channel 8, (831) 758-8888,

KSBW has, over the years, had its share of icons. The sardonic Dennis Lehnen on sports, the affable Jim Vanderzwaan on weather, the likable Dina Ruiz on news. But you don’t even have to look at the screen to know when Dan Green is on air. The robust voice! The slightly Dean Martin-into-his-third-martini delivery! And who doesn’t love it when Green, who’s been in the news biz since 1989, tells tales of cute, cuddly beasts via his signature “Animal Stories.” Tune in at 5, 6 and 11. You’ll fall as hard for him as our Best Of voters do.

Best Radio Station


102.1 FM, 27300 Rancho San Carlos Road, Carmel (831) 244-0102,

KRML starred as itself in 1971’s Play Misty for Me, playing a supporting role to the actor who would become Carmel’s mayor in 1986, Clint Eastwood. The scrappy station has gone through a succession of format changes, making one of its biggest leaps in the 1980s from Christian programming to an all-jazz format. Around the time Eastwood picked up a gavel, the station added its first African-American DJs in a town not known for its diversity. The jazz days are long gone in favor of adult alternative music and lifestyle shows, but local love for this tenacious homegrown gem lives on.

Best Radio DJ

Morning Madhouse – Sam Diggedy and Showbiz

102.5 FM, KDON, 1550 Moffett St., Unit C, Salinas, (831) 755-8181,

Radio sure has changed since the ’80s, when the most exciting developments were pirate radio, the Sony Walkman and talk radio. Now, the list of satellite and internet radio stations is seemingly endless. Though their Morning Madhouse show is part of the iHeartMedia empire, Sam Diggedy and Showbiz are local radio dudes who put out music, talk and jokes, 6-10am weekdays, live and locally sourced. “Our listeners have always held us down,” Showbiz told us last year. So each morning they return the favor.

Best School

Monterey Peninsula College

900 Fremont St., Monterey, (831) 646-4240,

Monterey Peninsula College is home of the Lobos and one of the county’s two junior colleges. But what makes this school the best is that it has a little something for everybody, not just students in the “traditional” program. That’s right, pre – or post-Gen X, MPC has helped today’s high-schoolers get ahead in their college degrees, as well as helped retirees gain new skills and keep their learning bug alive with lectures and tons of electives. They’ve also continued to build up the next generation of EMTs, nurses and other medical technicians, thanks to their robust Career Technical Education.

Best Professor

Dr. Bill Little

Monterey Peninsula College, 900 Fremont St., Monterey, (831) 646-4240,

OK, so Dr. Bill Little wasn’t the mad genius behind Marty McFly’s DeLorean, but he has a Ph.D. in molecular physics and was touted as the best professor last year as well as this year. Little is known for breaking down big complex equations into manageable pieces of information, especially when teaching math and physics at MPC. His matter-of-fact approach is why he is so highly regarded by his students, who recommend his classes even after they graduate.

Best K-12 Teacher

Rosanna McCormick

Monterey High School, 101 Herrmann Drive, Monterey, (831) 392-3801,

When Rosanna McCormick started her MPUSD public education in the ’80s, at Bay View Elementary, she was into The Cure and The Smiths – “Thanks to having older brothers,” she says – plus Madonna and Michael Jackson. Today she’s a rock star inspiration for the students at her alma mater, teaching a half-dozen disciplines while mentoring new teachers, studying for her second master’s degree and coaching varsity field hockey. Go ’Dores.

Best Place to Work

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula

23625 Holman Highway, Monterey, (831) 624-5311,

How do you keep 2,348 employees happy? Maybe with a koi pond in the lobby. Maybe by updating old-school ideas (sorry, 1980s) about what a hospital does and focusing on wellness and prevention. Maybe by offering staff the opportunity to run with their creative impulses in designing classes that integrate health with life, teaching things like healthy cooking or meditation for stress reduction. Maybe with the best milkshakes on offer in the cafeteria (see Best Milkshake, p. 90.) Or maybe with a shared mission to heal people who are sick – that’s the kind of work that truly feels fulfilling.

Best Local Politician

Jimmy Panetta

District Office, 100 W. Alisal St., Salinas, (202) 225-2861,

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, turns back the clock every time he flies to back to Washington, D.C., where he’s working to restore a tradition that almost seems radical in 2019: bipartisanship. Whether he’s digging into the weeds of health care policy or pushing for tweaks to the Farm Bill, Panetta believes that lasting legislation starts by reaching across the aisle. To do that, he’s trying to bring bipartisanship back to the future.

Best Local Website Best Place to Take Visitors

Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row, Monterey, (831) 648-4800,

The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened in 1984, well before any institution even had a website. Since then, millions of visitors have come through, viewing hundreds of species. This is a window to the diverse world under the sea, and it inspires awe in visitors every time. And yes, since then, the aquarium also built a website, expanding a virtual visiting experience to countless others. Load the webcam to watch penguins eat fish, mesmerizing jellies pulse, sea otters frolic and play. Download octopus or giant kelp wallpaper for your computer or smartphone screen (yes, it’s sized and formatted differently for each – they already thought of that). Or, read extensive publications about tuna, sharks and conservation work the aquarium is doing, and feel good that this local nonprofit is on the forefront of protecting our oceans.

Best Local Blog

Big Sur Kate

Today Big Sur Kate publishes one of the most reliable sources of online information about the rustic wilds of Monterey County’s southern coastline. Long before she launched her blog in 2008 as a way to update residents about the 40-day Basin Complex Fire, Kate Woods Novoa started her career as an attorney in 1981 in the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, where they probably used typewriters. But Big Sur beckoned, so in 1985 she joined the Monterey County Public Defender’s Office just so she could live in the community she loved. The OC’s loss was definitely our gain. Her site has become a go-to resource esepecially during disasters like fires and highway closures.

Best Local Clergy

Father Patrick Dooling

500 Church St., Monterey, (831) 373-2628,

The Monterey Diocese reports that San Carlos Cathedral is the oldest continuously functioning church and the first stone building in California. According to those who attend mass there, Patrick Dooling is the perfect man to lead them in prayer in this auspicious environment. Retired from full-time duties, Father Patrick still presides over mass most weekends and leads the church with what those who know him describe as Franciscan-like quality. “He’s a great comfort to lots of people and his ministry, especially to the sick, has made him beloved in Monterey” is how one of his flock explains his repeat win as Best Clergy.

Best Business Sign

Monterey Signs

855 Broadway Ave., Seaside, (831) 632-0490,

In 1984, moviegoers fell in love with Daryl Hannah as Madison, the mysterious mermaid who steals Tom Hanks’ heart in Splash. Monterey County has its own mermaid people love: the charming beauty with flowing hair that adorns Monterey Signs’ own hand-carved and hand-painted hanging business sign – known in the industry as a double-sided blade sign. Founders Shawn and Anjanette Adams are celebrating 10 years of crafting thousands of signs large and small for Monterey Bay businesses. They consider the last two years’ worth of Best Of wins in this same category for the now-closed Wharf Marketplace as their own, since their company crafted the striking throwback vintage sign.

Best Neon Sign

Old Fisherman’s Grotto

39 Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey, (831) 375-4604,

Just like Old Fisherman’s Grotto’s clam chowder and other saucy seafood dishes, the Grotto’s trademark logo neon sign is an unchanging beacon in the night, which lights up fog-filled evenings or clear skies over Old Fisherman’s Wharf for tourists and locals alike. The sign is as classic as Pat Benatar’s music videos.

Best Contemporary/Modern Building

Monterey Conference Center

1 Portola Plaza, Monterey, (831) 646-3770,

For too long, the Monterey Conference Center looked like it was built in the ’80s. (It was ahead of its time when it was built in the ’70s.) Then in 2014, hotel owners voted to tax themselves to fund upgrades, in 2015 the city broke ground on a years-long remodel to bring the conference center into this century, and when the place reopened in January 2018, it was sleek and contemporary and bright. The behind-the-scenes stuff is all more modern and improved – audiovisual equipment, flexibility of room size, LEED certification – but it’s the elegantly geometric look of this building that truly transformed the block and makes this the best.

Best Hotel

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

400 Cannery Row, Monterey, (831) 920-6710,

Whether or not someone loses the electoral college, they can still stay at the Presidential Suite, with its 180-degree views of Monterey Bay and 2,100 square feet to luxuriate in. Book massages at Vista Blue Spa, which has made Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast lists as one of the best in the nation. The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa’s location on Cannery Row, within a stone’s throw of the Wharf, downtown and the Aquarium, also doesn’t hurt this Best Of winner that attracts guests from around the globe.

Best Place to Drink Next to a Celebrity

Mission Ranch

26270 Dolores St., Carmel, (831) 624-6436,

As live piano music trickles through the air and the cool sea breeze marks the sunset, there may be no better spot to end the day than with a drink at Mission Ranch. Celebrities agree, and not just Clint Eastwood. It may be possible to catch Marilyn Manson, or Ray Romano after a good day of golf, perhaps even the guy who played Pee Wee Herman… although you might not want to catch him in the act.

Best Place to See and Be Seen

Seventh & Dolores

Seventh and Dolores, Carmel, (831) 293-7600,

This relatively new hotspot is where all the cool kids can be found rubbing elbows these days. It’s the place to be, and for good reason: a beautiful setting with towering ceilings and fun ambiance, an extensive bar with inventive cocktails, and a mouthwatering menu with a focus on sustainable steaks, fresh oysters and creative sides. Dress well, but dress comfortably – you’ll need to look the part but also allow your stomach room to expand.

Best Place to Read the Weekly


The best place to read the Weekly is at home for a reason. Sometimes you just need something to do while waiting for the movie you rented from Blockbuster to rewind or while you’re getting your hair permed. If you need some entertainment and a little info, the Weekly is there for you, and the public knows it’s true.

Best Place to Get Married

Lovers Point

631 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove, (831) 648-3100,

Princess Di and Prince Charles had Westminster Abbey, but if they had lived in Monterey County back in 1981, chances are they would have chosen the natural beauty of Lovers Point instead. Diana would have pulled up Ocean View Boulevard in the royal carriage in a dress that many fashion historians now consider iconic. The voluminous puffy sleeves and abundance of lace inspired thousands of knockoff wedding dresses in the 1980s. No doubt such dresses showed up at many a ceremony in Pacific Grove’s beloved park, overlooking Monterey Bay.

Best Place For A Birthday Party

Folktale Winery

8940 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel, (831) 293-7500,

When planning a birthday, most of us hope for a beautiful setting, delicious food and – especially for wine lovers – good wine. All of these can be found on the dreamy grounds of Folktale Winery, a castle fit for a party of royalty. Whether clinking bubbly by the outdoor firepits, on the glass-walled patio or curled up on the leather couches, there’s no better place to celebrate.

Best Place to Eavesdrop


Various locations around Monterey County,

Starbucks is so ubiquituos it’s like a background buzz in all of our minds. There’s a whole different buzz within the walls of each coffee shop location – and we don’t mean from the coffee. Sit inside long enough, and you’ll realize it’s the destination spot for meetings, from job interviews to old friends catching up. And since everyone is so preoccupied, it’s the best spot to quietly observe – if you’re into eavesdropping, that is. If not, you have Folgers at home.

Best Event/Festival

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

(831) 649-1533,

Back in the ’80s, the tournament’s volunteer “clambakes” were raucous affairs filled with cigar smoke, boozy toasts and a grassroots feel that echoed its Bing Crosby beginnings – and it was still called The Crosby. That has changed, but plenty hasn’t: Its deep field of celebrities and pros is still a highlight of the PGA season and its community-based mission – directed by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and buoyed by hundreds of volunteers – raises millions for local charities every year.

Best Public Golf Course

Pacific Grove Golf Links

77 Asilomar Blvd., Pacific Grove,, (831) 648-5775,

Back in the ’80s, Pacific Grove was introduced to national audiences as a fictional home town for a Detective Scott Turner (a youthful Tom Hanks) and his sidekick Hooch, a massive (and slobbery) French mastiff (via the hit movie Turner & Hooch). Back in the late ’80s, Pacific Grove still owned and operated its golf course (today the city owns it, but outsources management). Both then and now, PGGL is the Big Dog when it comes to public courses in the world’s golf Mecca because of breathtaking ocean views and chihuahua-sized greens fees (starting at $50).

Best Surf Spot

Asilomar State Beach

Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove, (831) 646-6440,

Cowabunga, Dude! If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could, they would head to Asilomar State Beach for some epic surf sessions to show off some of their famous turtle power on the waves. The beach is a longtime locals favorite for good surfing almost year-round, and for convenient parking along Sunset Drive on the cliffs above. Riptides and sneaker waves mean kooks (beginners, in surf slang) might want to avoid the area, but for longtime surfers it’s totally bitchin’.

Best Beach Best Place to Watch the Sunset Best Place to Walk the Dog

Carmel Beach

Along Scenic Road, Carmel, (831) 620-2000,

In 1989, Bernie Lomax invited a couple of kids to his swanky beach house, then bit the dust. Carmel Beach cannot promise shenanigans on par with Weekend at Bernie’s, but it’s just as classic. Think white sand beaches with dolphins leaping in the distance while you watch the sun slip beyond the sea. Surfing right up until that perfect sunset. Fire rings to warm yourself after surfing. Dogs that are allowed to be off leash and live their best lives, running and sniffing and playing in the waves. Don’t forget to watch for whales. Unlike Bernie, this beach is very much alive and thriving.

Best Park

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Highway 1, 3 miles south of Carmel, (831) 624-4909,

You have to go back to the ’80s – the 1880s, that is – to get the history of this standout park. In the decades prior, according to the Point Lobos Foundation, Whalers Cove at Point Lobos was “virtually an international business park,” a hub for whale processing and trade. Kerosene lamps were introduced in the 1880s and whale oil began to fade. The Carmel Land and Coal Company started using infrastructure at the cove to load ships with coal mined from nearby. But that industry waned as well, and the company subdivided Point Lobos into 1,000 residential lots. That’s when another stage of the area’s history took hold: preservation. Alexander Allan, Save the Redwoods League and the state of California purchased the would-be subdivision and made it into a public park. Today it’s a public park with trails, picnic areas, 750 underwater acres and abundant wildlife.

Best Place to Bike/ Mountain Bike

Fort Ord

Fort Ord National Monument, accessible from various trailheads,

Spanning nearly 30,000 acres, the former Fort Ord is hard to fully see on foot. Fortunately, the place seems practically designed to be a haven for those riding bicycles and mountain bikes, as the slopes are mostly gentle. The trails weave through gorgeous oak woodlands draped with lichen, by vernal pools, and through rolling hills carpeted with maritime chaparral. There is straight road biking to be had, and a variety of mountain bike trails for riders of any skill level. Bikes, unlike a certain DeLorean, may not be capable of time travel, but at Fort Ord that’s a good thing, lest you ride into an active artillery range.

Best Hiking Trail

Garland Ranch Regional Park

700 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, (831) 372-3196,

There are few places in the world where, on the very same hike, one can see a waterfall, redwood groves, oak woodlands and panoramic views from a peak. Garland Ranch Regional Park, considered the “grandaddy” of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District system, is one such place, and its extensive network of trails allows hikers – and their dogs – to choose different adventures to arrive at the same stunning destination. In a world increasingly defined by rapid technological change, Garland is a refuge where, year after year, things stay the same. Well… the natural backdrop changes, but slowly.

Best Backdrop for a Selfie

Big Sur

Cruise down windy Highway 1 any day in your 6-4 (or any vehicle) and you’re bound to see people from all over the world risking their lives for a selfie, which was hard to do with the old 35-millimeter camera. It’s difficult to beat the view: colorful wildflower-dotted land between soaring mountains and infinite ocean. The famously beautiful Big Sur is a spot for locals and tourists to show off alike: It’s one of the country’s most breathtaking destinations. Just be careful on those cliffs!

Best Library

Monterey Public Library

625 Pacific St., Monterey , (831) 646-3933,

Required reading from the 1980s appears all over Monterey Public Library shelves – The Color PurpleThe Handmaid’s Tale and Beloved among them. But the real appeal of this community institution defies time period: California’s first public library enjoys both old-school attention from professor-grade librarians and constantly updated ingredients like free kids’ e-books and a smartphone-friendly history of the library in four languages.

Best Hangout for Teens

Del Monte Shopping Center

1410 Del Monte Center, Monterey, (831) 373-2705,

Flashback to 1985: a former TV personality is president, Back to the Future captivates audiences and shopping malls are centers for American youth culture. Though malls are closing at rapid rates today, the Del Monte Shopping Center retains its popularity among teens for serving as a backdrop for future #ThrowbackThursday group photos. There are always cool ways to spend time whether it’s at restaurants ranging from budget-friendly Dametra to the casually chic Lalla Grill, retailers that offer your next fresh outfit or a calming comic book, and the Century Cinemas with movies both of the moment and a few throwback screenings thrown in.

Best Hangout for Seniors

The Carmel Foundation

Eighth and Lincoln, Carmel, (831) 624-1588,

A crowd favorite, the Carmel Foundation is not new to the Best Of game as it continues to deliver on its mission to provide local seniors with an environment of respect and camaraderie and place to call home. With activities that range from creative arts and self-expression classes to workshops and Saturday Cinema, the Foundation has earned a reputation as an important community center for its members to combat isolation.

Best Senior Living Community

The Park Lane

200 Glenwood Circle, Monterey, (831) 298-0100,

Working up to being able to retire is hard work, so why not retire in style? Nestled along the beautiful Iris Canyon Greenbelt, the Park Lane is an opportunity to do just that. Its manicured lawns and tree-lined walking paths are picturebook worthy and offer independent living, assisted living and memory care services in addition to fitness and art programs. The Park Lane also offers dual benefits from its quiet, serene seclusion with quick, easy access to the more bustling downtown Monterey or Seaside. It offers an incredible view of Monterey Bay to boot.

Best Farmers Market

Old Monterey Farmers Market

Alvarado Street between Del Monte and Pearl, Monterey, (831) 655-2607,

Every Tuesday after 3pm, downtown Monterey’s Alvarado Street becomes a bustle of commerce, with scores of vendors selling produce, ready-made foods, arts and crafts, and throw in the live music – Flock of Seagulls, perhaps – and the place feels like a party. It’s also reminiscent of a market from an earlier time, when residents gathered in the public square to shop and swap stories. It’s Alvarado Street in peak form, when the place truly feels like a downtown.

Best Eco Trend

The Ban on Plastic Straws

Here’s the good news when it comes to the ban, enacted in 2018, on plastic straws: If you’re at a dine-in restaurant, you’ll no longer get a plastic straw unless you expressly ask for one. And, with the exception of people with medical conditions that necessitate using a straw, how about you just don’t ask? There’s still a lot of work to be done on the subject, though. Plastic straws are the sixth largest source of waste on California’s beaches and the ban, signed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown, doesn’t include the single largest creator of plastic straw waste: fast-food restaurants. Nor does it ban coffee shops, delis or caterers from handing them out. And it can’t do anything about all those straws tossed after people finished off their Big Gulps. A baby step is better than no step, when it comes to the health of the planet. Bonus points to the hipsters who carry reusable metal or glass straws in their hemp-woven bags.

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