Claiming title as the “Sardine Capital of the Western Hemisphere,” Monterey, California seized international notoriety after novelist John Steinbeck wrote Cannery Row. Now the city touts its shopping and sea sports more than the tiny fish it once canned. In fact, the very buildings of Cannery Row that once processed sardines now house themed restaurants and quaint boutiques.
Monterey rests on the southern shore of Monterey Bay, just 116 miles south of San Francisco. One of the top attractions in the area is whale watching. Visitors take front-row seats to watch humpback whales and sperm whales, among other varieties, during the family-friendly excursions of Chris’ Whale Watching Tours. These three-hour voyages traverse the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, home to 27 species of marine mammals.
Landlubbers who wish to see the wonders of the sea from the sure footing of the shore can visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, another of the top attractions in Monterrey. Located on Cannery Row close to the bay, this aquarium exhibits more than 600 marine species, including the giant Pacific octopus and the great white shark. Youth groups and families can arrange for sleepovers at the aquarium, which is one of Monterrey’s fun things to do with kids. Packages include late night snacks, a nature movie and a continental breakfast.
Tourists interested in a taste of typical nightlife in Monterey should swing by the Mucky Duck on Alvarado for a Bloody Mary and a Chilango, one of the pub’s signature burgers. Dancers and music lovers love the Mucky Duck, which has live entertainment every night of the week. Anyone looking for classic seaside fare will enjoy the Crown & Anchor on nearby W Franklin St. The restaurant’s fresh crab cakes and traditional English fish and chips are best washed down with a swig of any of the 20 tap beers on tap.
Schooners, located at the Monterey Plaza hotel, is a great nest for lovebirds. Suspended out over the water, Schooners offers an outdoor patio with drink service, perfect for watching vibrant West Coast sunsets. On the other hand, folks visiting Monterrey with kids adore Rosine’s in nearby Carmel because the restaurant seems to have something for everyone. The word is, Rosine’s offers giant portions, from homemade lasagna to a field green chicken cranberry salad.
Athletes and outdoor types have a myriad of options, courtesy of the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. This 18-mile, paved waterfront trail leads hikers, runners and bikers to Cannery Row, the Museum of Monterey, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman’s Wharf. The trail traces the former route of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Spots along the trail even rent surreys. Riding the trail in one of these canopied quadricycles is one of the fun things to do with kids in Monterrey. The four-seat surreys will accommodate two additional small children in front. Visitors can also find places to rent sea kayaks or inline skates along the trail, as well as a number of good restaurants and places to spread a picnic blanket.