It was very unlike Erika and I to arrive somewhere not having done any research, and not having any real idea what to do while we were there, and not having reserved a place to stay – but that’s exactly what we did when we went to Monterey. It was during our “
We wanted to see more than just the city of
We got a great deal on lodging because of the simple fact that small inns and bed-and-breakfasts – unlike hotels – rarely get walk-in business. This means that they often give you a significant discount if you show up on a day when they have unreserved rooms that would otherwise sit vacant. We spotted the Merritt House Inn (pictured below) within minutes of driving into town, and when I walked inside and inquired if they had anything available, they knocked 60 percent off the nightly rate without even being asked. We got to spend a couple nights in a large room that had a fireplace, refrigerator, and vaulted ceiling. It overlooked lushly gardened grounds across from the Common Room where complimentary continental breakfasts were served every morning. All that, for less that the price of a cookie cutter room at a Holiday Inn.
One thing that becomes clear soon after you arrive in
In the northwest part of town, Cannery Row – which was once an industrial strip made famous by the writing of native son John Steinbeck – has been transformed into a tourist-friendly destination comprised of shops, galleries, a blues bar, and all manner of restaurants.
Meanwhile, the Monterey Bay Aquarium appeals to adults and children alike and is home to animals ranging from Giant Pacific Octopus to blackfooted penguin. It offers a host of daily activities ranging from shark feedings to otter training.
If you bring the kids, be sure to take them to the Dennis the Menace Playground. It was built with funds from the comic strip’s creator in the 1950’s, and has been updated several times since. Among its many features are an old steam engine, a climbing wall, a suspension bridge, and a slide that travels all the way down a hillside.
But as neat as the town itself is, you’ll be missing out if you don’t drive south for a day to explore that beautiful coastline I mentioned earlier. When Erika and I did that, our first stop was six miles away at Point Lobos State Reserve, where we watched a harbor seal poke his head above the water in an inlet called Whaler’s Cove. Farther into the reserve, we hiked down to the Pacific and witnessed its crashing waves:
We stopped at the Big Sur River Inn Restaurant, where we ate lunch surrounded by pristine forest. With our stomachs full, we then moved on to
The morning we were to leave town, we decided to take a walk on Old Fisherman’s Wharf before departing. The sky was blue, the air was cool, we saw a sea otter floating on his back – and on the spur of the moment we decided to go whale watching, since there are so many companies on the wharf that will take you for a sail at very reasonable rates. Before long we were standing on a boat with a family from
The boat carried us past a jetty covered with sea lions, and out into
Just imagine how many memories you’ll be able to make in this place, considering that we arrived not knowing what to do but left with memories that will last a lifetime.