My memories of Monterey, California dated back over a decade when my family took a road trip from San Francisco. This time around, I was traveling with my mom and her friend down the Pacific Coast Highway. Monterey was a good point to stop for a few days, using it as a base for day trips. The former fishing town is most associated with John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. The waterfront area where most tourists stay was renamed for the book.
The main reason for our visit was to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the top in the world. As a lifelong water baby, I couldn’t wait to see creatures up close. The aquarium starts with an introduction to the building’s former life as a sardine cannery. It was packed when we arrived, because of the rainy weather, but we got a discount through AAA membership, which I highly recommend. Ticket prices aren’t cheap. But the non-profit aquarium focuses on education and sustainability, operating a seafood watch program that’s known worldwide.
I wasn’t overwhelmed with the places we ate in the Cannery Row area, so we took a Lyft to Old Monterey for a bite and to browse the shops. This is where the locals live and dine, so we came to this area a few times. We even made it here when the power was out all over Cannery Row due to storms. Alvarado Street Brewery was perfect for a pint and burger.
On our last afternoon in Monterey was the sunniest of our entire trip. We were scheduled to go on a whale watching cruise with Princess Whale Watching after many the day before were canceled. The seas were still rocky, but I was excited about the possibility of seeing some whales. Sea lions hung out on the shore as we made our way out of the harbor and our guide started to point out creatures in the distance. First, the whales were little more than water spouts, but we got closer and closer, seeing grey whales surface and wave at us. Not everyone enjoyed the journey, as many below deck got sick, but being up top with the California breeze made it all worthwhile.
If You Go
Monterey is a great weekend getaway, especially if you’re an ocean geek like me. Here are a few of my favorite spots from my trip.