Travel Guide for a Quick Monterey, California Vacation
Since I haven’t been blogging for very long (at least not long enough to cover ANY of the vacations I’ve been on), I thought that it would be appropriate to write about the trip Everett and I took to Monterey, California now that it’s been about a year since we went. And because it was a year ago, I’m not sure I can remember exactly what order and what day we did most everything, so it might be a bit of a blob of a blog post.
This trip was our babymoon trip! We went in April, just over three months before Leo was due. We hit two birds with one stone because on our way out to California, we stopped in Sparks for my baby shower at my parents’ house.
April might be just about the best time of year to go to Monterey. We were treated with very mild weather and pretty minimal crowds considering how popular of a stop it is for a lot of families. It must be that most of them go in the summer! For the best hotels in Monterey, LEAVE Monterey! That is if you’d rather spend your money doing things than staying at a nice place. It is MUCH more affordable and only about a 15 minute drive to actually get into Monterey if you stay a bit north in somewhere like Salinas.
Our first stop was the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. We mostly just walked around enjoying the smells of pier food and listening to the seals yelling at each other on the pier out across the water. At the end of the pier we stopped to look out over the bay and caught these two seagulls snoozing.
Then we headed over to Cannery Row and walked the entire thing. My heavy pregnant self was so tired by the end, but it was a lot of fun. We stopped as we pleased to look at the ocean and take a few pics. We even spotted a couple of otters feeding in the kelp! Everett hates pictures but I am so grateful he puts up with me to get just a few!
The next day we went to the tide pools at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Getting to tide pools as the tide is going out and being there for the lowest point of the tide is the best time to be there. Here is a great tide table. We were told that the pools at the end of the road are the best in the area. I’m not sure if we weren’t there at the right time of year, but we found that the pools closer to the beginning of the road, just past the first point that you can see the ocean, were the best. There were TONS of sea anemones and purple urchins and hermit crabs. Lots of big crabs too and Everett wanted to catch all of them. I’m such a party pooper and told him not too! I always feel so bad bugging the wildlife so much. We don’t have a whole lot of pictures from the tide pools on the fancy camera because I was afraid of it getting wet, but there are a lot of phone pics! If you go, be sure to bring two jackets, a pair of water shoes, and a change of clothes. The second jacket is to stay dry for when you’re done, because no matter how hard you try to not get wet, it’s probably going to happen!
The next day was PACKED. In the morning we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, because you can’t go to Monterey without going to the aquarium! And guys, it’s expensive, but it’s so worth it. If any of you have ever been to the San Diego Zoo, it’s kind of like that. You think, “A zoo that costs $60!? No way!” But then you go and you’re like, “Best $60 I’ve ever spent!” Even if just you and another adult! You don’t have to be a kid to love the aquarium.
When you enter the aquarium, pick up one of the maps. Not only is it big enough that you need a map, but it tells you all the feeding times for all the tanks in the aquarium, and you don’t want to miss them! For some of the tanks, scuba divers will go in and hand feed the fish, and they have microphones connected to them and they talk to you as they feed the fish.
Other tanks, like the Open Ocean tank, they throw in the food from the top. Open Ocean was easily our favorite feeding to watch, so if you go and have to decide between a few, always pick Open Ocean! There are a lot of different fish species in there, and we landed the jackpot to go on a day that they were feeding the sardines. The sardines tend to hang out along the bottom of the tank but come up and glimmer in the light as they feed. There are actually other fish in there who naturally prey on sardines, and we got to watch that for a little while, too. Sorry, no pics of the feeding! I was too busy watching!
After the aquarium was a late lunch at Bubba Gump. I know it seems like it’s talked up a bit since it’s in the movie Forrest Gump, but it really is delicious! It has a gorgeous ocean view, too.
After lunch we headed south for the 17 mile drive. I’ve heard that a really fun way to do it is to ride a bike to enjoy the scenery (which I believe gets you a free entrance), but we paid the $10.25 to drive our car. And even though I just said that the aquarium is amazing and is worth every penny, the 17 mile drive was easily our favorite part of the entire trip. When you pay your entrance fee, you’re given a map that shows you each stop along the drive and gives a brief explanation of each. You can stop at every point or pick and choose! We decided to stop at all of them except the golf courses.
My biggest desire for this entire trip was to watch the sun set over the ocean, so we planned to get through the 17 mile drive and loop back around to the western-most point of the drive to watch. It was raining pretty good while we were driving and I was worried it wouldn’t clear up for the sunset, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was freezing cold, but the short five minutes we spent out of the car for it made the whole trip worth it for me. (I mean, look at that picture! Can you blame me!?)
After the sunset, we drove back to Cannery Row and grabbed a milkshake at the Monterey Ghirardelli Shop! It was delicious!
And that was our last day in Monterey. The next morning we headed out of town looking for a farmer’s market (my dad asked that if we found a bonzai tree stand to get him one), and came to a small fishing town called Moss Landing. We’ve heard that Phil’s Fish Market and Eatery has the best Cioppino there is, but neither Everett or I like super heavy seafood dishes, so we passed. But if you go and you like Cioppino, I’ve heard that it literally is the best bowl of soup you can get and it’s worth making some trip arrangements to accommodate!
And that’s the end our our trip :) If you have any questions about Monterey, I can try to answer them, so drop them below!