Inaugurated in 1991 as a 350-athlete competitive summit, the Sea Otter Classic has blossomed into a sprawling event with more than 50,000 spectators, 10,000 cyclists, and 300 vendors peddling bikes and gear with demos and samples of new products. Situated within Laguna Seca, the festival draws amateur and professional athletes into competitive mountain- and road-bike races, and recreational cyclists behold Monterey County's striking vistas in three Gran Fondo routes. Children's bike events plant the seeds for the next generation of cyclists with a skill-developing play zone and friendly races.
The López family owns three local liquor stores and a restaurant; Francisco Jacobo manages a local radio station. Together, they join forces for a common interest: tequila. Beginning this year, they are hosting their annual Salinas Tequila and Mezcal Grand Tasting, an event that gathers a variety of aged agaves for the tasting.
Surrounded by craggy peaks, three men in bright-red helmets stand in the midst of wilderness, surveying the mountains around them as their group of hikers break for a snack on the rocky ground. This interface with the majesty of nature is all in a day's work for this trio of adventurers—Paul Mangasarian and Jakob and Daniel Laggner. Still, their passion for open-air exploration grows with each expedition they lead. Paul, Jakob, and Daniel cofounded Treks and Tracks with the dream of orchestrating excursions into nature that combine ancient means of travel—such as sailing, horseback riding, and hitchhiking on a centaur—with modern sports ranging from surfing to rock climbing. Though they focus on introducing novice outdoorsfolk to unspoiled wilderness around the world, Treks and Tracks' cofounders also strive to leave the awe-inspiring surroundings they visit as pristine as they found them by rigorously upholding practices of environmental stewardship on each expedition.
Though still the same game at heart, the bowling competitions at Valley Center Bowl take on a sci-fi spin. The center's 30 lanes use flat-screen televisions to report bowlers' scores, play 3-D graphics, and display a digital clock counting down to the robot uprising. During events such as the Rock-N-Bowl, black and colorful lights dance along the walls and floors while videos pour from six 42-inch screens. Electronic entertainment coaxes visitors away from the lanes an into a newly remodeled, 3,200-square-foot redemption arcade that sits beside the Lazer Frenzy laser maze. Recently renovated with comfortable seating and flat-panel screens, Monterey Lanes entices bowlers of all ages to strive for a perfect 300 score while enjoying good company and crisp refreshments from the cocktail lounge. Weekend glow bowling and an onsite arcade keep gamers amused, and the pro shop caters to more serious bowlers. Monterey Lanes routinely lends its slick surfaces to charity events, such as Bowl Over Breast Cancer.
Castle Rock Climbing School's expert guides eschew climbing walls for the raw stone faces of the Santa Cruz Mountains. PCGI-certified instructors spearhead trips ranging in duration from half a day to four days, spiriting intrepid climbers away for a nature-filled morning or 96 hours away from home to just let the neighbors get all the mail-stealing out of their system. Every guide boasts years of experience leading their wards up and down rocky inclines and is stuffed with local knowledge and teaching prowess. The school outfits climbers with the gear they need, including helmets, harnesses, and shoes, requiring that guests only take care of dressing themselves and deciding what song to yodel from the summit.
When Monica Wason moved to Salinas, she was in the midst of planning an addition to her family. Though she soon discovered that there were no prenatal health venues near her new home, she was undeterred. She decided that she'd simply open one herself, and founded Green Belly as a wellness center for fellow pregnant women. Soon, her clientele expanded to include postnatal and non-pregnant women as well as men, prompting Monica to broaden her efforts. She funneled her experiences as a nurse and massage therapist into pampering services, and hired a teaching staff to help lead yoga, Pilates, and belly-dancing sessions. Today, she continues to welcome guests from all walks of life into Green Belly's lime- and cream-colored rooms to fulfill their wellness needs. As sun beams through the studio's skylight and bay windows, her aestheticians work to brighten faces with Jadience skincare products. She exclusively stocks the spa with organic products, complementing the center's nature-inspired décor while also honoring the trees who taught her slow-breathing techniques.