This summer for my birthday my boyfriend (you can find him over at The Angry Eater blog) took me on a day trip to Monterey Bay. I’ve been wanting to go to the aquarium for years and we finally decided to pull the trigger and make the 3 hour drive north.
The weather couldn’t have been better, it was warm with just enough clouds to make the sky look interesting. We rode the free trolley all over town to get from the parking garage to the aquarium, we were able to see Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and while it is not pictured below we also drove passed by California’s first theatre.
After checking out all the cool exhibits and sadly discovering that there was going to be no way for me to adopt an otter of my own (same for the boyfriend and the penguin friend he made) we strolled down to Cannery Row to check out the sites. There were so many cool places to see, foods to eat, and adorable inns to stay at, I can see why it’s such a vacation destination. There were places to rent bikes and surreys, historical landmarks left and right, and the most beautiful views of the bay that a person could ask for. We saw a wedding getting set up, and it was so incredibly gorgeous that it made my heart flutter for a couple that I would never even get to meet. The city just breathes romance. After stomping around the road the Steinbeck made famous we hopped back on the trolley and rode it down to the Wharf, where we were able to spot a Seal Captain, snack on a clam chowder bread bowl (because you cannot go to the wharf and not eat clam chowder, I’m fairly certain it goes against all local custom), and just behaved like the tourist we were, I picked up a cute magnet to commemorate the trip (it looks like a tin of sardines), and we adventured on to the Alvarado Street Brewery.
I cannot say enough good things about this place. I had the most amazing beer of my life, it was called a Rickey Tartin (a raspberry lime sour ale), part of me is devastated that they’re so far away, and the other part is glad that they are, because I’d be there every night if it was an option. We ate inside, but outside was where the magic happens. They have the coolest beer garden that is DOG FRIENDLY (the best places always are). Lunch was delicious, and the only bummer was that we live too far away to make taking leftovers a whole different kind of gastro-adventure that neither of us were willing to embark on.
This was such a perfect day, the only thing that could have made it better would have been if Highway 1 had been opened up in time for us to take the scenic drive up, sadly for us, we went the week before it was passable for regular traffic.
Tips for the Aquarium/ Monterey:
- We went on a Saturday during summer break. The place WAS PACKED like they were giving away free puppies to the first 1,000 kids. I would recommend going during the week while school in session to get prime viewing spots of all the sea creatures. This is not because the children were unruly monsters… but because their parents were the ones who were awful. Children were easy to deal with, they’re short, so I was able to see everything I was trying to look at (after patiently waiting my turn) right over their little heads, but the parents would push their kids in front of other adults (and it seemed like they only pulled this shit with the child-free ones) and then elbow their way forward in efforts to “retrieve” junior… except they would push everyone else out of their spots. Also when a room says there is no room for strollers and suggests that you should park them… follow that suggestion, the little galleries get PACKED and that stroller becomes more of a burden/battering ram (but maybe that was the whole point, I don’t know)
- If you work for a school district or other union job, check to see if you are eligible for discounts. I know at $50 a ticket, it’s not always something that everyone can afford (it’s totally worth it, if you can), but discounts are available if you look for them.
- USE the trolley. All the parking garages in town have a trolley stop, as to many of the tourist attractions, the roads are narrow and the pedestrians are like wild animals, save yourself the stress and let public transportation be your guide.
- Wear comfortable shoes, it’s a super walk-able town as long as you have the appropriate footwear.
- Bring along your own reusable water bottle. There are filtered water filling stations inside the aquarium, and they are very against single use plastic bottles (we’re killing the ocean, let’s do better).
- I would suggest bringing a small backpack for all your goodies, I learned the hard way. I had brought a sweater, because growing up on the coast you never know when the winds are going to change and it’s going to drop 20 degrees because King Triton got bored and whipped up a wind. I had my digital camera and a selection of lenses, and my purse…. and I felt like a nomad. If I had brought a backpack instead of a purse, there would have been a better place to store the sweater instead of dragging it around like Linus from Peanuts (I swear it wasn’t intentional, but I had tied it to my purse strap and it kept coming undone), the weight from my camera + already heavy purse would have been distributed more evenly, and I would have had a pocket for my water bottle. Everything turned out okay, and it ended up being a trial run for our next adventure, I now know I probably will not be taking the big camera on our next adventure, I’ll just upgrade my smartphone before we leave, and I’ll figure out more lightweight/portable outerwear options.
If you have any tips, tricks, and other awesome pointers for a day trip to Monterey be sure to share them with me and the rest of the class in the comments section.