Sugar Free BBQ Shredded Chicken

Sugar Free BBQ Shredded Chicken - made in the slow cooker.


My slow cooker salsa chicken recipe is still one of my favorites to date.  It’s so easy, and it’s such a fun way to prepare a ton of chicken for lunches and other quick meals during the week.  So here’s another option born of my quest to find a decent BBQ sauce without all of the added sugar.

Now, I will have to warn you that I am not a true BBQ enthusiast.  My friend from Texas basically laughed me off for my sauce choices and I’m not going to pretend like I’ve become some kind of expert since.  I really love this sauce though, so if you are a BBQ master and have tried it, do let me know what your thoughts are.

G Hughes Sugar Free BBQ Sauce

I’ve heard about the G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free BBQ Sauce all over the internet!  Low carb people love it, sugar free people love it, Weight Watchers peeps love it – but I couldn’t find it!  I was hunting everywhere until I finally located it at a Safeway store.  Then I bought one of each flavor and I fell instantly in love.  No weird after taste and no sickly sweet flavors.  I actually like it better than a lot of the “regular” BBQ sauces that I have tried.  The fact that it’s OK for my diabetic husband, and low in Smart Points, is practically just an added bonus.

Yet, I was hesitant to stick this stuff in a slow cooker.  Some artificial sweeteners don’t perform well under heat – either changing their flavor or just losing it entirely.  When I read the ingredients label I was happy to see:

Crushed Tomatoes (Water, Concentrated Crushed Tomatoes), Apple Cider Vinegar, White Vinegar, Modified Cornstarch, Salt, Less Than 2% of: MincedOnion, Lemon Juice (from Concentrate), Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Ground Cinnamon, Spices, Natural Hickory Smoke, Spices, Natural Brown Sugar Flavor, Natural Maple Flavor, NaturalCaramel Color, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose. Gluten free.

So there is a very small amount of “Splenda,” and that sweetener does fine with some heat.  We are good to go!

Thus, my super easy Sugar Free  BBQ Shredded Chicken recipe was born.  Give it a shot!  It’s tangy and smoky shredded chicken with hardly any effort.  Make a huge batch for the week and use it on top of salads, flat out pizzas, as additions to soup, etc.   You don’t have to worry about getting your kitchen hot or firing up the grill.  Just let your slow cooker do all the work for you.

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Sugar Free BBQ Shredded Chicken BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Tangy and smoky shredded chicken with hardly any effort. Make a huge batch for the week and use it on top of salads, flat out pizzas, and as additions to soup.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Slow Cooker
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
half chicken breasts
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Slow Cooker
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
half chicken breasts
  1. Pour some of your sauce onto the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Place all of your chicken breasts into the slow cooker. It's perfectly fine to stack them on top of each other if necessary.
  3. Pour most of the remaining sauce over the chicken breasts. Save some sauce for the last step. The chicken will kick out water as it cooks, so you will want to have some sauce reserved.
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
  4. Put the lid on your slow cooker and then cook on high heat for 4 hours.
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
  5. After 4 hours, you will want to check your chicken to see if it is fully cooked. You will notice that there is a lot more liquid in the crock pot now.
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
  6. Use some tongs to pull a piece of chicken out of the liquid. Pull it apart with a second pair of tongs. If it shreds easily the chicken is done. Do not be tempted to leave the chicken in your slow cooker longer than necessary. Overcooked chicken is stringy and terrible. If you do not have two tongs, pull the chicken out and shred with a pair of forks. I like to drop the shredded chicken back into the liquid as I work so it can absorb as much flavor as possible.
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
  7. Don't worry about shredding everything too small.
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
  8. Remove all of the chicken from your slow cooker, using the tongs, and then mix in the remaining amount of BBQ sauce.
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
  9. Allow the chicken to cool and then refrigerate immediately. Any servings that will not be used in the following 6 days should be frozen for later use. I like to divide my servings up into small containers or sandwich bags. Enjoy sugar free BBQ shredded chicken during the rest of your week!
    Sugar Free BBQ Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
Recipe Notes

Smart Points:  3 points per serving,  recipe is for 16 servings.

I created my estimate based on a 5lb pack of chicken, with 8 pieces, and estimated that there would be 16 servings.  You would have to weigh your chicken after cooking and then divide by 16.

I create this estimate using the recipe calculator in online tools, but you should double check for accuracy in your own account using the ingredients that you used to prepare your food.  If you have a different sized pack of chicken you may want to adjust your serving sizes.

WEIGHT WATCHERS Is the registered trademark of Weight Watchers International, Inc. SmartPoints and FitPoints  are trademarks of Weight Watchers International, Inc. © 2016 Weight Watchers International, Inc. All rights reserved by them.  I do not work for Weight Watchers and they have not reviewed or endorsed by website.  In order to get accurate information about their program you should enroll online or attend a Watchers Meeting.  I am a member but I not affiliated with them in any other way.

You should consult your physician before starting a new diet and fitness regimen.  All information I've written is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions.

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BABYMETAL 2016 | San Francisco Vlog

This is a vlog from 07/14/2016 in which we picked up our friend Max in Santa Cruz, and then headed up to San Francisco to see the BABYMETAL concert. While we were there we also stopped by the Vertigo Bar, just around the corner from The Regency Ballroom for a couple of drinks. It’s one of our favorite places to go there. They have a decent selection, good prices, and wonderful service!

The concert was great!  I was really surprised to see a mix of young and old, boys, and girls, and just about everyone else that you can think of.  The show also had a pretty big mosh pit, and I thought it was great that the girls were encouraging people to get into it.

I’ve never seen BABYMETAL live before, and I was wondering if Su-metal really sings live or if she sounds like she does on the recording.  I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but I have the impression that they were brought up by a pop idol company – and not every pop idol out there is that great of a singer!  Well it turns out that Su-metal is a pretty powerful vocalist.  I was really impressed by her abilities.

One of the big jobs that the girls also have to do on the stage is to dance.  They are insanely good dancers.  Each song has its own dance routine that they are somehow able to remember and perform with freakishly good accuracy.  I don’t know how they do that!

Another highlight of the evening was watching the Kami Band perform.  They are not the main stars of the group, but they give their on stage performances 100% and are extremely talented musicians in their own right.  It was really wonderful to watch them play live.

Obviously the music used in our vlog video is music I’ve licenced and not actual Babymetal songs, so if you’d like to check them out you can do so over at their channel. I like this song a lot:

In the video you also see us stop by the Vertigo Bar.  It’s located just around the corner from The Regency Ballroom and is one of our favorite places to stop by when we are checking out shows there.  They are a cash only dive bar with a great selection of reasonably priced drinks and beers.  The people who work there are always nice to us, and the place has a great vibe.  Check it out next time you are down there!


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Waffle Shop in Salinas

Waffle Shop in Salinas Coffee


Quick Information

Waffle Shop

1465 N Main St
Corner of Main and Alvin
Salinas, CA 93906
6am-3p Everyday
Phone Number
(831) 442-8880

Waffle Shop in Salinas

Waffle Shop in Salinas Cherry Waffle

We decided to stop by this restaurant recently and were not disappointed!

The restaurant is a freestanding building that is located on the corner of N. Main Street and Alvin.  I’ve seen it a million times, but I’ve never actually eaten here before.

The Waffle Shop in Salinas has a very old school diner feel.  When you enter the restaurant there are booths available on one side, and lots of tables with chairs on the other.  The decor consists of various Americana and is similar to Grandma’s Kitchen out in Seaside/Monterey or perhaps the older Carrows restaurants.  They were playing country music the entire time that we were there, but I’m not sure if this changes or is typical of the restaurant.

Waffle Shop in Salinas Sunrise Special

I ordered the sunrise special.  It consists of a toasted piece of sourdough with scrambled eggs and ham, topped with their country gravy.  The gravy was nice and peppery.  I got my order with the country potatoes.  I thought the special was great, and laughed because my friend Kat has a much more colorful euphemism for this type of dish.  I also ordered the cherry waffle (pictured above) and it was a great classic waffle topped with cherry pie filling and whipped cream.  We all shared it, and it didn’t last very long.

waffle shop in salinas omelette

Felipe ordered this cheese topped omelette with linguica.  I haven’t had linguica in a really long time, so I was just a teeeeeeeeensy bit jealous!  He also opted for country potatoes as you can see.

We had a hard time choosing because there were a lot of really good options on the menu.  The Waffle Shop in Salinas has lots of specialty waffles including a bacon pecan waffle, omelettes, various classic breakfast options, and even a lunch menu.  I thought the prices were pretty reasonable.

The restaurant was very kid friendly because they have all the basic necessities (high chair, crayons) plus a “kids eat free” menu that you can order from on any weekday!  I think that alone would bring us back when we decide to go out for breakfast next, but there was also no line to get in for breakfast.   If you’re from around here you know that the line at breakfast shops can get pretty insane during peak times.

All in all, a great classic diner.  Can’t wait to go back!

What is the best waffle that you’ve ever had?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

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Vote for me in the Del Real Foods Blogger Recipe Challenge!

Arroz stuffed omelette for Del Real Foods Blogger Recipe Challenge


Hey everyone, I just wanted to remind you that I am competing in the Del Real Foods Blogger Recipe Challenge!

There are only 7 more days to vote…have you voted yet?!

My recipe is called Arroz Stuffed Omelettes, and I think you would really like them.  You can find the full recipe on this page.

I also created a YouTube tutorial video for this.

If you could cast your vote for me on this page I would really appreciate it!  (You can of course vote for whoever you like.)  The system allows you to vote once per day.

Thank you!

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Weird Food From High School aka Bagels and Chips

Bagels and Hot Cheetos

Did you have any weird prison style recipes at your high school?

Felipe and I met at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas, California.  One of the things a lot of people did back then was eat bagels with chips in them.  They sold the bagels on lunch carts with a packet of cream cheese, and you would buy the chips separately.  The most popular was probably hot Cheetos, but some people did Cool Ranch Doritos too.

Here’s how you put it together:

Bagel with cream cheese

First you gotta spread the cream cheese out on the bagel.  We’re basically old people and not in high school anymore, so were stuck with the knife and tub method, but back in the day you had to tear the corner off the packet so you could squeeze it out in thin ribbons.

bagel wit hot cheetos

Then you have to place all your chips inside of the bagel.  I would always try and get the full bag in there for efficiency reasons, but I don’t know how well that would work out with the flat chips.

bagel with hot cheetos

Very carefully now, you gotta get the two halves together without it all spilling out on top of the desk or table you were eating at.  They didn’t exactly hand out plates, so you had to keep everything contained on top of a square of crappy saran wrap.

bagel and hot cheetos

This is going to be a little hard to eat if you don’t squish it down, but that crunch is the most satisfying part of this process.

bagel and doritos

Here’s a shot of the Dorito version.

Personally, I think Hot Cheetos are the best.  I don’t like to eat them alone, but they are perfect with cream cheese.

Felipe doesn’t like spicy food so he thinks Doritos are the best.

I don’t remember how many Smart Points this was, but I ended up using all my weeklies when we filmed this video.  (A few hours before my Weight Watchers meeting, lol)  Worth it though!  I probably wont start eating these again any time soon with any regularity, but it was really fun to go back and do something we used to do when we were basically still a couple of kids.

Check out the full video and keep your eye out for the poll in the video.



Click the info button to vote!

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Are you ready to call Oldtown the Salinas City Center?


A photo posted by Laura Barajas (@gimklaura) on


Yesterday I heard the announcement that a new downtown business association has formed and that they want the Oldtown area of Salinas to be called the Salinas City Center instead.  Now, I found the KION article on this a little bit confusing because it’s not clear if the Oldtown Salinas Association had simply been renamed, or if they had closed it to start something brand new, or even if some new association started and was like F*** THE OLD ONE!

I read another article in the Californian that stated that the business owners voted to get rid of the old association and have started this new one because they didn’t like the world “OLD.”  So that kind of cleared things up, even though I resent old being thought of as a negative.

The new association is hoping to continue the endless revitalization project by adding apartments, grocery stores, event spaces, and new businesses of course.  Personally, it just sounds like a really fancy way of saying that they hope to start gentrifying the neighborhood – which can be good one one hand and scary on another.  I’m a big scaredy cat who finds change a little frightening in general so trust me when I say I TOTALLY GET the apprehension around stuff like this.  With a grocery store and lots of events going on it could be fun to live in the downtown area, but I imagine their target market wont actually be people who live and grew up in Salinas.  I think it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

They probably would have more luck just trying to call it downtown.  I mean, Salinas City Center sounds like a building – right? I think they are going to have a hard time changing the Oldtown reference.  It’s been oldtown FOREVER, but we’ll see how it goes.  Who knows, maybe within the next few years I’ll be telling you something is located at the Salinas City Center vrs. Oldtown?

I am excited about all the new businesses going into Old- I mean Salinas City Center – lol.

The more stuff that there is to do down there the better it is for our city as a whole…and of course more opportunities to find great stuff to share on the blog.  So I’ll see you guys down there, whatever it happens to be called!


Ps – You can go and like their new Facebook page to see all the stuff they are working on.


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Let’s Inject a Little Positivity into Salinas

Flower from my backyard


Last year was the most violent year on record in Salinas, and with two more recent murders it looks like this year will be more of the same.

Of course, as usual, Facebook is filled with a lot of messages about how bad things are and how badly everyone wants to just pack up and leave.  If you made a post like that and are reading this – don’t think I am picking on you specifically.  I can think of a dozen people on my friends list who have said the same thing over the years.  I’ve seen everyone who lives here deride the city since the day my family moved here.  I grew up knowing full well that people from our neighboring towns consider Salinas a place to go live if you can’t afford to live somewhere better.

And I think that is horrifyingly tragic.

Too be honest I’ve gotten really tired of it.

I was born in Monterey and I was raised in million dollar PG and Monterey homes for the first 10 years…but Salinas is where I was raised.  I grew up here.  I met my husband here.  I experienced some of the most heartbreaking and tragic moments of my life here.  I am also guilty of thinking that Salinas was the problem.  If I could only escape it’s clutches I could go and live my dream life somewhere that the opportunities remained endless and people didn’t feel their hope start dwindling the moment they touched their feet to the soil.

I remember hearing the friends of a teen who committed suicide comment, “He should have gotten out of here before Salinas took him.  F*** I should get out of here.”  This stuff breaks my heart, because I remember feeling the same.

I am not educated or intelligent enough to prescribe what would make this place better for everyone.  Personally, I think more opportunities would help a lot.  Better paying jobs, and more options for less expensive housing would probably help too.

There is all sorts of things to be negative about in Salinas, but being negative actually accomplishes nothing.

Being negative doesn’t create housing or jobs, or hope – the most important thing is HOPE!  Only actions can create change, and if you are not willing to take actions to create change somebody else is going to do that for you.  Somebody else might create changes that you don’t actually like or agree with too.




I refuse to give up on Salinas, and I refuse to bog my mind down with negative vibes about this city.  I love living here way too much and in the end being a negative person only makes your own life worse.

I can’t promise that we will live here forever, Felipe’s work is so far away so we would like to be closer to his job, but I’m not leaving because we’re too scared or because I don’t want my son to live here.  I’m glad my son lives here.  I’ll gladly take him over to the east side.  I refuse to live my life afraid of getting killed and I don’t want him to grow up afraid of things either.  Does that mean I’m gonna let him grow up running around unchecked with the wrong crowd?  Heck no, and he’d probably learn that is mom is the person he has to be afraid of in life if that’s the case.  xD

When I lived in Las Vegas I lived near the corner of Charleston and Fremont Street.  Most people know Fremont as the Fremont Street Experience.  They do not know several miles of bombed out looking motels filled with homeless, prostitutes, and drug dealers.  Two blocks from my house was one of the detention centers that people know from a crappy TV show.  Every morning on my way to work I’d see drug addicts wandering around like ghosts under the archaic Blue Angel Motel statue.  So, don’t think that living in a bad neighborhood is foreign to me.

And yes, I walked home alone at night – all the time.

Recently I rebranded the website and channel to match our new focus.  “Our mission is to shine a positive light on all the fun adventures that can be had in Salinas, Santa Cruz, and beyond.  We are pursuing this by creating video content that showcases local events, restaurants, and recreation.”

I didn’t do that to be cute, I really mean it.

I want to shine a positive light on Salinas and that’s the action I’m choosing to take.

I want people to come here and be reminded of what a great place this really is, and then I want them to go out and experience that for themselves.

I can’t fix the problems here, but I can do my best to make it a better place.

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Farmers Markets in the 831 Area

Farmers Markets in the 831 Area: Including those located in Santa Cruz, Salinas, Monterey, Carmel, & More!

Local Area Farmers Markets

Looking for great small businesses, fresh local produce, and a fun community event?  Check out our local farmers markets!  I created this page as a resource so you could find something great that’s close to you.  There is a farmers market happening almost every day of the week!

Markets can sometimes change hours or locations, so before you visit for the first time make sure you visit their information page to double check the info.

If you know of any other markets that I should be listing here please let me know about it.

Have fun!

Salinas Farmers Markets

Tuesdays – Alisal Certified Farmers’ Market
Hours:  11am-4pm (June – September)
Location: 632 East Alisal
Website: Everyones Harvest Page

Wednesdays – Natividad Medical Center Certified Farmers’ Market
Hours: 11am-3.30pm (May-October)
Location: 1441 Constitution BLVD
Website:  Everyones Harvest Page

Fridays – Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Certified Farmers’ Market
Hours: 1.30pm-5.30pm (May-October)
Location: Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital
Website: Everyones Harvest Page

Saturdays – The Oldtown Marketplace
Hours: 9am-2pm
Location: Gabilan Street in Oldtown
Website:  Oldtown Salinas

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Soledad Farmers Markets

Thursdays – Soledad CFM
Hours: 4pm – 8pm (May-December)
Location: Encinal and Front Street
Website: Facebook Page

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Monterey Farmers Markets

Tuesdays – The Farmers Market at Old Monterey Marketplace
Summer Hours:  4pm-8pm (4pm-7pm)
Winter Hours:  4pm-7pm (October – April)
Location:  Alvarado Street
Website: Old Monterey Page

Fridays – Monterey Farmers Market at Monterey Peninsula College
Hours: 10am – 2pm
Location: Monterey Peninsula College (MPC)
Website: Monterey Bay Farmers Page

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Pacific Grove Farmers Markets

Farmers Market in Pacific Grove

Mondays – Pacific Grove Certified Farmers’ Market
Summer Hours: 3pm-7pm
Winter Hours:  3pm-6pm
Location: Corner of Central and Grand Avenues
Website:  Everyones Harvest Page

Check out our blog post featuring this market!

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Carmel Area Farmers Markets

Tuesdays – Carmel Farmers Market at the Barnyard
Hours: 9am-1pm
Location: The Barnyard Shopping Village
Website: Monterey Bay Farmers Market Page

Thursdays – West Coast Farmers Market
Hours: 10am-2pm
Location: Devendorf Park
Website:  West Coast Farmers Market Page

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Marina Farmers Markets

Sundays – Marina Certified Farmers’ Market
Hours: 10am-2pm
Location: 215 Reservation Road
Website: Everyones Harvest Page

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Santa Cruz Area Farmers Markets

Wednesdays – Downtown Farmers Market
Summer Hours: 1.3opm-6.30pm
Winter Hours: 1.30pm-5.30pm
Location: Cedar Street & Lincoln Street
Website: Santa Cruz Farmers Market Page

Saturdays – Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College
Hours: 8am-12pm
Location: Cabrillo College
Website: Monterey Bay Farmers Market Page

Saturdays – Westside Farmers Market
Hours: 9am-1pm
Location: Western Drive & Mission Street
Website: Santa Cruz Farmers Market Page

Saturdays – Scotts Valley
Hours: 9am-1pm (April-November)
Location: The Kings Village Shopping Center
Website: Santa Cruz Farmers Market Page

Sundays – Live Oak Farmers Market
Hours: 9am-1pm
Location: 15th & Eastcliff Drive
Website: Santa Cruz Farmers Market Page

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Watsonville Farmers Market

Fridays – Watsonville Certified Farmers Market
Hours: 3pm-7pm
Location: Watsonville City Plaza
Website:  N/A

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Pacific Grove Farmers Market and Bike Trail at Lovers Point



Hello everyone!  Today we are posting a video about our little jaunt over to Pacific Grove so that we could do some walking on the bike path.  While we were there we ran into the Pacific Grove Certified Farmers Market.  It was pretty awesome!

Farmers Market in Pacific Grove


It’s located on corner of central and grand avenue in Pacific Grove.  It wraps around the park and includes lots of stalls for fresh produce, local crafts, and local hot food for purchase.  There were a lot of families and kids playing in the park, and I thought it was a great place to go as a family outing.  Next time we go I might even bring a picnic blanket!


We didn’t now this was going on that day so it was a great surprise!  I found a neat booth by Wylde Welles Soapworks.  They sell soaps, lavender eye pillows, and more!  They make the soaps in Pebble Beach.  I think I met the owner Diane and she was extremely nice.  I ended up getting a pillow and a soap bar that is scented to smell like Lovespell…the popular Victoria Secret scent.  Let me tell you, it smells amazing!  I think it smells better than the original.  If you get a chance you should really check her booth out!  The pillow is also really great.  Everything smells like lavender in here, hahah.


Almost immediately we spotted a black food truck called Kuki’s Bowl.  Everyone knows we are a big fan of food trucks because we loved chasing them down in Vegas, so we were really excited to see one here.

We ordered the kabocha squash mochi cake, some pot stickers, a kuki’s bowl, and their bonsai bowl.  You can see the mochi cake above, it was gone before the food even came out.  The kabocha flavor is really mild and wonderful, and the cake is nice and custardy like a piece of flan.  So good!


Felipe ordered a Kuki’s Bowl with brown rice, half pork and half beef, veggies, and peanut sauce.  It tasted great and portions were very generous!


Laura got the Bonsai Chicken Meal with brown rice, a large crispy chicken thigh, and half miso sesame green beans, and the carrot and burdock root salad.  The chicken was extremely crispy on all sides, and the sauce was really wonderful.  Felipe had fun stealing most of the chicken skin, haha.  It would be great if you could just get a giant bowl of that carrot and burdock root salad too, would love to go get some more as soon as possible!


After we were done eating we walked down towards Lovers point to hop on the bike path.  Lovers Point has a 4.4 acre park, scenic rock formations, a beach, and access to the bike path.  (Known formerly as the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.  It stretches 18 miles from south of Pacific Grove, all the way out to Castroville. )  This stretch of the bike path winds along the ocean and threads through cannery row on it’s way to the wharf.


When you walk along the path there are lots of people walking, jogging, and biking.  Out in Monterey you can even rent bikes to use on the trail.  There are many places to catch the ocean view, and benches to rest on if needed.

In Pacific Grove you can also see the wonderful mural painted to commemorate PG’s early settlers, including the Native American tribes and the early Japanese fishers.  It’s very beautiful and has a lot of information.  (Check out this 3D panoramic of it.)


Ah, it was such a nice day!  Great views, great food, and great fun.

Where should we go next?

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