Keys 2 the Coast is constantly searching for the best places to wine, dine and explore on the California coast and we have officially declared that Lovers Point State Marine Reserve, in Monterey, is one of the most scenic spots in all of California. It is truly a Top 10 travel destination that must be seen to live life to the fullest.

Monterey is located on the Central Coast, 118 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 101.

Average year-round temperatures range from a pleasant 57 to 70 degrees.

It is no wonder that Monterey entertains well over 8 million people annually, and the numbers are growing every year. Visitors flock to experience the surreal beauty of this area. If you haven’t been to Monterey, get there.

Imagine thunderous, white waves crashing onto the shore and bursting over the rugged, rocky coastline. The color contrast of the dark blue sky, crystal clear turquoise water, whitecaps and the rich colors of the rocks and boulders make for an unusually stunning, visual masterpiece. Prepare yourself as your breath catches.

Monterey Bay is well known for its dynamic, vibrant and diverse marine environment. The striking turquoise waters team with endangered wildlife. You can expect to see kids of all ages out on their surfboards, watching as the sea otters swim and glimmer in the sunlight. Paddle boards floating off in the distance and ever-changing activity can’t compete, however, with the amazing serenity you’ll find at Lovers Point.

Check out the Lovers Point rock staircase. It's not something you find every day at a beach and it's always great to see the Pacific Ocean and coastline from a higher elevation.

You’ve heard the adage, bloom where you're planted? It is baffling and astonishing when striking green plants sprout and thrive from a mere crack in the side of a cliff wall.

After a long day of sunning, hiking, ocean sports and enjoying the sea gulls soaring above, you’ll be hungry. Keys 2 the Coast consistently recommends the Beach House Restaurant at Lovers Point. Check out the outdoor patio, which was recently given an update.

The patio seats approximately 30 people, so it is always good to make a reservation in advance. The patio was appropriately renamed The Solarium. It is the place to go for a fantastic meal, with a view that will make you want to linger. The outdoor patio overlooks the Point and there is no better view to be had. The Fire Cracker Shrimp and the Pot Pie are simply scrumptious.

California has no shortage of amazing destinations and places to wine, dine and explore. Monterey is my favorite place to tide pool. It offers a peek into the deep. Interesting fish and often starfish, also known as sea stars, can been seen in the rock pockets where water and creatures are trapped near the seashore. It’s a treat to see them in tide pools, since divers are known to spot them up to 20,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The colors are vibrant shades of red, orange, blue, brown or grey.

The Monterey Peninsula is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. This is Mother Nature at her most vain. She is showing off.

Be aware that Monterey Bay is as a National Marine Sanctuary. Make sure that you don't take anything home with you. Fishing is not allowed. Taking plants, rocks and even seashells from this reserve, will get you in big trouble - you will break the law if you take anything home.

Relaxing is inevitable, as you hear the sounds of waves slapping up against the shoreline and seagulls, also known as herring gulls, making their very distinct “keow” sounds, soaring overhead. These birds are stronger than they look. I witnessed a full bucket of chicken lifted from a would-be picnic.

Plan your trip, get up and get out there. It’s a big, wonderful world. We all work too hard and life is meant to be lived to the fullest.

Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys2TheCoast.com. Keys 2 The Coast is a travel resource for Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, offering recommendations on “local choices” for the best places to wine, dine and explore. Visit keys2thecoast.com or Keys2TheCoast on Facebook.

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