How to Spend Two Days in Monterey

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When Heather (aka the Nomadic American) insisted that we add Monterey to our US road trip itinerary, I was a little apprehensive. We had two short weeks to try and do justice to the west coast before we turned inland, and here she was suggesting somewhere I’d never even heard of?

Heather hadn’t steered us wrong so far, though. Our visit to the Ocean City Boardwalk was one of my favourite experiences while in Maryland, and I’d been similarly enchanted by our time visiting Sanibel Island in Florida. Although let’s be honest, that one was my idea.

Heather first visited Monterey during her previous road trip and had nothing but good things to say about the quaint oceanside town. She loved the Route 101 views, breakfasts at the Crepe Factory, boutique beers at the Cannery Street Brewery, and was eager to explore Monterey’s world-renowned aquarium as well.

And so, after our day in Yosemite (and the encounter with a bear), we turned westward and made our way to Monterey.

Food! Beer! Madness!

I’m a sucker for a good micro-brew/boutique beer. It’s one of the reasons I adore Portland, it’s one of the reasons my favourite pub in Sydney is Hart’s Pub, and it’s one of the reasons a night on the beers for me is often a pricey affair.

The iconic Cannery Row Brewing Company. A pretty fantastic sports bar and watering hole.
The iconic Cannery Row Brewing Company. A pretty fantastic sports bar and watering hole.

I couldn’t exactly say ‘no’ when Heather suggested we spend our first night in Monterey at the Cannery Row Brewing Company having a few boutique beers and a mean feed now, could I?

Nor could I turn down her request that we indulge in some amazing savoury crepes after our visit to the Monterey Aquarium.

Heather is pleased as punch about the opportunity to eat some delicious savoury crepes
Heather is pleased as punch about the opportunity to eat some delicious savoury crepes

And far be it from me to say no to a heaping helping of Dippin’ Dots after a day’s hard work walking around looking at fish!

 

Dipping Dots! Magic!
Dipping Dots! Magic!

The Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of the big reasons we visited Monterey was to take a look at their world class aquarium. Now, I like fish as much as the next guy, but I’m not the kind of person who can wander for hours on end oohing and aahing at the slippery bastards. I didn’t hold high hopes for a day at Monterey Bay Aquarium but found it refreshingly interesting.

You could touch these bad boys!
You could touch these bad boys!
I am sure there was a reason that Heather was listening to this tank.
I am sure there was a reason that Heather was listening to this tank.
A touch pool for big kids too!
A touch pool for big kids too!

 

Beautiful jellyfish. One of my favourite displays.
Beautiful jellyfish. One of my favourite displays.
The very groovy Jellies Experience at Monterey Aquarium,
The very groovy Jellies Experience at Monterey Aquarium,

It’s not just all fish in tanks and a big walkway to gaze up at. There were displays, otters being delightfully cute, touch pools for grown-ups, wave simulators, weird animatronic displays, and a groovy jellyfish expedition full of colours and lights. It was enough to keep me entertained across the day and had young Heather wide-eyed with wonder.

All in all: a successful day at the aquarium.

The Prettiest Stretch of Road on Earth?

Our next order of business was to shut up and drive. Or, given it was two chatty travellers, talk a lot and drive. As far as drives go, Highway 1 aka the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best I’ve ever taken.

We started with a visit to the pretty (but vastly overrated, in my opinion) Carmel Beach to snap a few photos and soak in the sea air.

This view, on the other hand, is definitely not overrated.
This view, on the other hand, is definitely not overrated.

Then it was off to the picturesque Bixby Bridge to see what all the fuss about Route 1 is about. Holy crap. I get it. Most beautiful road ever!

After about forty minutes snapping photos and risking life and limb to make Heather squirm, it was time to head back to Monterey.

The sweeping cliffs and churning sea make Route 101 a beautiful way to travel in California.
The sweeping cliffs and churning sea make Route 1 a beautiful way to travel in California.
Bixby Bridge has got to be right up there with the Golden Gate and Sydney Harbour as one of the most visually stunning bridges on earth.
Bixby Bridge has got to be right up there with the Golden Gate and Sydney Harbour as one of the most visually stunning bridges on earth.
Looking good by Bixby Bridge
Looking good by Bixby Bridge

 

Along the way, I spotted a cliff top restaurant (the Rocky Point Restaurant) boasting a view of the Pacific and, true to my ‘spending money is awesome’ travel style, I convinced Heather to pull in. I hurriedly changed into a more presentable shirt and we went in to have dinner. We’d just missed the discounted dinner menu, but the owner was on hand to let us in at the reduced rate. Score!

Eating dinner, sipping wine, and gazing out over the Pacific was suitably romantic. Good times.

Farewell, Monterey!

Our last port of call in Monterey (made the morning after our fancy dinner) was to visit the waterfront and the pier. It was quaint but largely uneventful. I saw a comically large lollipop (Heather wouldn’t let me buy it) and we sampled clam chowder along the boardwalk.

 

Hanging out by the wharf
Hanging out by the wharf
I just dug this image.
I just dug this image.
Heather wouldn't let me buy it though :-(
Heather wouldn’t let me buy it though 🙁

And then, dear friends, it was off to San Francisco!

Monterey was a charming town and a nice way to relax after a fairly busy stint in Los Angeles and Yosemite. I don’t know that I’d go again, but I can see why Heather loved the place. It was beautiful.

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8 comments

    • There is a group of quaint towns in the area besides Monterey. Carmel by the Sea with all kinds of shops and galleries and restaurants. Not to mention wine the bars. Then there is Carmel Valley about 15 minutes inland. Big Sir and Pacific Grove. All with great charm and lots to do and see. A week to scratch the surface.

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