My 1 Year Wedding Anniversary Trip to Carmel, Monterey, and Big Sur

Good afternoon everyone, I hope your week is going well.  Yesterday (July 27) was my 1 year wedding anniversary – what a crazy year it has been!  If you are unfamiliar with our love story, please read Quick Update Regarding the Old 150x British Airways Avios & Promo.  Long story short, I joined because British Airways was running a huge promo and offering thousands of British Airways Avios.  In the end, I didn’t get the Avios, but I did get the girl and we got married in Sonoma, CA on July 27, 2019.  Last weekend, we drove down to Carmel / Monterey / Big Sur for our anniversary.  Here is where we stayed and ate during our trip…

Grant & Laura’s Wedding Day – July 27, 2019

For the first 2 nights, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Monterey using a free night certificate from Laura’s Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card and 15,000 World of Hyatt Points (category 4 Hyatt).  Thanks to 2 current Hyatt promos, Laura received 2,500 World of Hyatt Points from the Elite Member Bonus and she should receive another 3,750 World of Hyatt Points as part of the 25% rebate on award stays (15,000 x 25% = 3,750).  We have stayed at this hotel many times and this hotel is a great deal if you have a Hyatt free night certificate available.  The hotel is a 5-15 minute drive to various parts of Monterey County.

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We then spent 1 night at the InterContinental Clement Monterey on Cannery Row.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium is currently closed, but most other businesses and restaurants are open.  This hotel used to charge 60,000 – 70,000 IHG Points per night, but right now, the hotel has off-peak pricing and can be booked for as low as 40,000 IHG Points.  I was able to use a free night certificate from my Chase IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card (you can only use the free night certificate at hotels that charge 40,000 IHG Points or less).  The hotel is in a great location if you want to hang out around Cannery Row and the rooms are very nice.

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Our favorite breakfast place is a short distance from both hotels.  It is called The Wild Plum Cafe and they have great breakfast options (I always get a large chai tea and the basket of fresh baked pastries) but Laura loves the breakfast burritos and egg dishes.  Don’t let the 3.5 star Yelp review deter you from visiting (it also codes as an AMEX Small Business).

Another favorite restaurant of ours is Tarpy’s Roadhouse.  They have plenty of outdoor seating, also code as an AMEX Small Business, and it is a great spot if you want to watch planes land at the nearby Monterey Regional Airport.

We also love going to Fandango Restaurant and splitting the seafood paella and creme brulee dessert.  They have many other great dishes to choose from and also code as an AMEX Small Business (lots of these businesses in Monterey County).

Laura had never been down to Big Sur, so we drove about 45 minutes from Monterey down to Big Sur.  We drove by the Ventana Big Sur (just to check it out) and stopped at Pfeiffer Beach for a few hours to walk around, watch the surfers, and look for pretty shells.

Grant & Laura at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, CA

We had a great weekend in Carmel / Monterey / Big Sur and can’t wait to visit again soon.  If you are married, what did you do for your one year wedding anniversary?  Let us know in the comments section.  If you have any ideas on how we should spend our second wedding anniversary next year, we would love to hear your suggestions too.  Have a great day everyone!

21 thoughts on “My 1 Year Wedding Anniversary Trip to Carmel, Monterey, and Big Sur

  1. meandakey

    Congratulations on your first year of marriage.

    Kelley and I met each other 38 years ago only about five minutes walk from where we now live in Monterey. We left the area for 17 years and ended up back here in the place we feel is our home.

    Wishing the best for you & Laura staying on the lovelier side in the places you love for decades beyond.

  2. Fagi

    Happy Anniversary Grant & Laura! It’s been many years since our 1st anniversary but we found a great deal at the time and went to Australia for 3 weeks for our 1st Anniversary. We bought a train pass and went from Cairns to Melbourne over the course of a few weeks stopping at several towns along the way. The train was way too slow but we still had a great time.

  3. Craig at Middle Age Miles

    Congratulations and happy 1st anniversary!!! Sounds like you guys had a nice relaxing weekend and made great use of your certificates and points too!

    Funny, on the day of our first anniversary, Philly and I actually went to some friends’ wedding. Their reception doubled as a great anniversary night out for us :) A couple of weeks later, we took the celebration to Vegas and attended the infamous Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. The fight overpromised and underdelivered but we had a blast that weekend anyway.

    Best wishes to you guys for many more anniversaries and travel adventures to come – cheers!!! ~Craig

    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Craig, thank you for the well wishes. A few weeks before our wedding, we went to a family friend’s wedding, so we got to experience the wedding activities and see how everything went.

      I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Las Vegas, even if the fight was not as exciting as you both hoped.

      Remind me again what anniversary year you are celebrating. Looking forward to seeing you both soon.

      1. Craig at Middle Age Miles

        We celebrated our 6th anniversary in April. Second marriage for both of us. I got it right this time. I *think* Philly would say the same :)

        I was just looking back through our anniversaries –
        * 2nd anniversary was a weird one. We went out to dinner at a nice place in Dallas, and the surrounding trips during our anniversary month included Denver (helping a son find an apartment); Seattle (helping a daughter pick a college); and Vegas again (another big fight weekend).
        * 3rd anniversary was in your neck of the woods. We met Canadian friends in San Francisco, drove up the coast to Mendocino, and came back through Sonoma County for a fun long weekend trip.
        * 4th anniversary was Italy – Rome and the Amalfi Coast
        * 5th anniversary we ran it back – Rome & Amalfi Coast again, this time with a son & daughter-in-law along with us
        * 6th anniversary – sheltered in place due to Covid-19. We grilled steaks at home.

        Thanks for motivating me to take this trip down memory lane. Lots of good times. We’re looking forward to seeing you guys too! ~Craig

        1. Grant Post author

          Laura and I are jealous of your 2 trips to Italy, I told her we would go there for an anniversary trip (or anytime that fits our schedules). Hopefully your 7th anniversary will be spent away from home. Any ideas floating around, assuming it’s safe to travel by then?

          1. Craig at Middle Age Miles

            You guys will love going to the Amalfi Coast. You might want to do it in a shoulder season rather than during your summer anniversary for heat and crowd reasons. Feel free to pick my brain any time if you’re starting to plan a trip there. We’re ready to go back to Italy to explore some of the other places like Florence/Tuscany and Northern Italy, as there’s a lot of Italy we haven’t yet visited.

            Ha, you know us well. We already have the 7th anniversary trip on the books, to southern Portugal & Spain. 4 nights at Conrad Algarve on Hilton FNCs, then 5 nights at Nobu Marbella on Hyatt points (it’s a SLH property). Flights are saver-level biz using Philly’s AA miles. I’m very excited about this trip and really hope we get to go.

          2. Grant Post author

            Good advice, I could go to Europe any month of the year. In fact, back when US Airways offered off-peak travel to Europe from Jan 15 – Feb 28 for 30k US Airway smiles round trip in economy, I went to Europe 3 different times in late January. If we start planning a trip, I will definitely reach out to you for info.

            Sounds like you have a great trip to Portugal and Spain booked. Nothing left to do except pray that Europe is reopened to Americans and pack your bags :)

    1. Grant Post author

      Hi JJ, thank you for the anniversary wishes. I’m sure we will be back there soon. Do you have any favorite restaurants in town that we should check out next time? Thank you :)

  4. askmrlee (@askmrlee)

    Congratulations! At the Intercon Monterey, does the 40K award get you a room facing the ocean, facing Cannery Row, or the bike trail? Nearly every year I use my Ambassador B1G1 weekend night certificate there on a larger room and get upgraded to a junior suite – ocean view. Except last year where (I believe) they sold the room and elected to give me the 10K points as compensation (which took a few months to actually get credited). First time the upgrade didn’t happen.

    1. Grant Post author

      That’s a great question. I’ve stayed at the InterContinental Clement Monterey twice and been given different rooms/rooms/floors. I booked a 2 night stay using a Hotwire secret hotel rate and was on the second floor facing the Bubba Gumps restaurant. This last visit, I used my IHG free night certificate and was on the third floor facing Cannery Row. I wish I could get a bay facing room but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m an IHG Spire member but not an IC Ambassador member. Let me know if you have any other questions. Have a great day :)

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