Recently, I watched a travel program on TV that featured Monterey, California, a coastal town situated south of San Francisco. Watching that program brought back a lot of memories of my trip to San Francisco many years ago. I remember that trip being a fantastic two-week vacation covering San Francisco, camping in Yosemite National Park, and a quick getaway to Monterey.
Most people make day trips to Monterey, but when I was there, my instincts told me that this laid-back and casual town was also perfect for those wanting to spend a night or two to explore its attractions at a relaxing pace. If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, make sure you add Monterey to your itinerary. Here are the top things to do and see in Monterey.
1. Monterey Bay Aquarium
The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is the city’s main attraction and focuses on ocean conservation. This amazing aquarium is massive, with more than 35,000 sea creatures and hundreds of exhibits featuring sea turtles, sharks, jellyfish, and schools of fish. Although the entrance fees are steep, I guarantee that you’ll love it and that you’ll leave the aquarium awestruck by the wonders of sea life. For ticket information, opening hours, and the latest tours and exhibits in the aquarium, visit the official website.
2. Cannery Row
Located on the north side of Monterey Bay Aquarium is Cannery Row, a waterfront street that was once the site for sardine canning factories and fishing shacks. The factories no longer exist, as the last cannery closed in 1973. Since then, Cannery Row has transformed into a lively tourist attraction with marine activities, quaint shops, restaurants, and hotels, many of which are located in renovated cannery buildings.
3. Fisherman’s Wharf
The bustling Fisherman’s Wharf is known for seafood restaurants, gift shops, and art galleries. In addition to chomping on fresh seafood and clam chowder, you can walk or cycle along seaside trails that provide you panoramic views of the bay, moored boats, and sea lions on nearby rocks and buoys. Monterey is prime whale-watching territory, and Fisherman’s Wharf is the point of departure for many whale-watching tours and fishing trips.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, or just Carmel, is a seaside enclave located south of Monterey. This community is pretty upscale, with several designer stores, gourmet eateries, and swanky art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents. The most famous of whom is Clint Eastwood, who was the mayor of Carmel from 1986 to 1988.
If you aren’t inclined toward luxury shopping, then head over to Carmel Beach. Carmel prides itself on being pet-friendly, and you’ll find dogs romping and frolicking with one another on the beach. Sunsets on Carmel Beach are spectacularly beautiful, so I urge you to take long walks along the shore in the evening.
With mild weather and many places to see, Monterey is an attractive destination. If you haven’t visited already, then it should be your new favorite destination, especially for a quick getaway.