Monterey has both one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world and some of the deepest roots in California history. We have been visiting this seaside getaway many years before having children. And now as a family of four, we find it as an equally enjoyable experience. Having taken so many trips to the California’s “first” city here are some of our highlights that always make the list of things to do when in town.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The aquarium is one of the biggest draws to Monterey and naturally the first stop. It’s located on the southern end of Cannery Row perched on the bay. It features world-renowned exhibits of the local Californian sea life. A deck outside features some of the most spectacular scenery along Cannery Row.
Old Fisherman’s Wharf
Built in 1870 and extended several times, the Old Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to walk, take in the sea air, and enjoy some of the freshest seafood you can find. The wharf features a Bricker Brack of restaurants, shops, and a viewing deck at the end of the pier. (Side note: At the foot of the wharf is the old Custom House, part of the Monterey State Historical Park. Monterey has flown the flags of three countries during its time as a city: Spain, Mexico, and the USA. In fact, Monterey was the first place in California that the American flag was flown.)
Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail
Twisting 29 miles along the breathtaking coastline, this trail is part of a urban redevelopment plan that turned the old Southern Pacific Rail Line from an eyesore to an outdoor enthusiast draw. The trail features a gentle paved trail that avoids the busy roads providing a relaxing stroll.
Once home to massive sardine canneries in 1915 to when the last cannery closed in 1973, billions and billions of sardines were fished out of the local waters and canned for the world’s consumption. After the decline and closing of the canneries, the row of old factories were revitalized into a tourist mecca. Our family loves to wander Cannery Row either in the early morning with the locals or around twilight when the flicker of the last light dances with the streetlights.
Dennis the Menace Park
Opened in 1956 and renovated multiple times, this park is a favorite of our kids. Featuring suspension bridges, too many slides to count, caves, mazes, and several play structures, it’s a great way to let the little ones burn off some energy before heading back to the hotel.
As you already know Monterey was a leading fishing port at one time, but the diverse amount of marine life, mammals, fish, and birds are now federally protected under the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Monterey Day Trips
If time permits, consider enjoying one (or several) of the day trips listed below.
Drive back down the coast through Big Sur
Opened in 1937 and built with the help of convict labor, this exhilarating stretch of coastal highway features 33 bridges and proved to be one of the most difficult sections of Pacific Coast Highway to construct. Driving it you see some of the most gorgeous and pristine coastline left in the Southern/Central California area. (Side note: make sure to check road conditions and closures, with the route hugging the cliffs of the coastline and cutting through Big Sur, we have been trapped by landslides and fallen trees in the past, forcing us to drive back to Monterey to make it back home to Los Angeles.)
Where to Eat
Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly restaurants.
Old Monterey Café | 489 Alvarado St.
Archie’s American Diner | 125 Ocean View Blvd.
Do you visited Monterey? We love to connect with others, so feel free to leave us a comment and share your experience! (Note: Above pictures were taken over several trips. )