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Getaways That Don't Require a Plane Ticket: Monterey

One of the many perks of San Francisco living is the vast amount of stuff to do just outside the city's borders. Drive a couple hours in any direction (sans into the ocean) and you could be skiing down fresh powder or splashing around one of the many beaches lining the state. The options are endless. There's so much to do, that we thought it best to highlight some of our favorite destinations. This week we're looking at Monterey Bay.

When one thinks of Monterey, gazing down at sea otters or fawning over a leafy seadragon at Monterey Bay Aquarium is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Folks from all over the world flock to the small town to see the aquarium perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, but that's not all the town has to offer. Let's start with the very basics: where to stay. There are plenty of options sprinkled on and around Cannery Row, but our favorite is the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, which is the only place offering up accommodations that sit directly on the Monterey Bay. The hotel is vast, and we recommend splurging on seafood at Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar after pampering yourself at Vista Blue Spa. The spa is on the top floor of the hotel, and has a common area for guests that include hot tubs overlooking the Bay as well as an outdoor fireplace to keep yourself warm.

What to do: Wholesome activities for families and couples alike are endless in Monterey, though most lean towards enjoying the abundance of natural resources around. That includes whale watching, stand up paddleboarding or scuba diving lessons in the bay, visiting one of the many beaches along the coastline, and of course spending a day at the Aquarium. Nearby attractions also include the 17-Mile Drive, which is a strip of road that began as a carriage road for guests at Monterey's Hotel del Monte in the early 1880s, and has since been lauded for its magnificent scenery; spending a day eating and shopping in Carmel, where actor Clint Eastwood was a honorary Mayor at one point; and soaking in the views at Big Sur.

Don't miss: On your way back to San Francisco, take a detour to visit Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero near Santa Cruz. It's a restored 1910 dairy farm, where 200 alpine goats on nine acres graze all day. Do pick up some of the Harley Farms chèvre, fromage blanc, and ricotta from the farm's store.