Spend a Day by the Sea in Beautiful Monterey

Old Fisherman’s Wharf, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row are just a few of the must-see attractions you’ll find in Monterey. Photo: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

MONTEREY – There’s a reason Monterey is considered paradise by residents and visitors alike. From its rich history to spectacular views, this central coastal city’s attributes are breathtaking and diverse.

Monterey is well-known for its marine mammals. Harbor seals can be spotted sunning themselves on the rocks and buoys just off of Old Fisherman’s Wharf and sea lions and sea otters are often seen bobbing in the water along the coastline. To view more animals, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium – one of Monterey’s best-known attractions – which is home to hundreds of fish and ocean animals.

A wild sea lion suns itself on a rock in Monterey Bay. Photo: EQ Roy / Shutterstock

While admission is steep, you can spend an entire day exploring the Aquarium. The Open Sea exhibit, which boasts a 90-foot window, allows you to experience sea life as if you were underwater. Watch in amazement as vibrant jellyfish and huge tuna swim right by you. In other portions of the Aquarium, you’ll see a kelp forest, penguins and sea otters.

Because of its proximity to the sea, Monterey was once a fish canning town. These canneries were made famous by Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck in his gritty book, Cannery Row. Today the old canning company is an antique mall and the seaside avenue is lined with eateries, boutiques, hotels and a variety of shops. Even though Cannery Row’s industry is now tourism rather than sardines, it’s still worth a visit. Many of the restaurants offer fresh seafood with the side order of amazing views of the Bay coming at no additional charge. After you shop and eat, stop by the bronze Cannery Row Monument for a photo with some of Monterey’s most historic figures like Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts.

If you’re traveling with kids, put the Dennis the Menace Playground on your to-do list. Not only is this park spacious, but it has multiple pieces of unique play equipment, including a suspension bridge and roller slide. The rock wall is a great structure for young day-trippers who need to burn off excess energy after their car ride. Train lovers will be able to see a 1924 steam engine, albeit from behind a fence. The train, which was once accessible for hands-on exploration, is now eyes only. If you’re looking for a leisurely water activity, the park is adjacent to a small lake that rents paddle boats.

Monarch butterflies congregate on Monterey Cypress Tree at Monarch Grove Sanctuary. Photo: yhelfman / Shutterstock

Monterey isn’t just popular with people. Each year, thousands of monarch butterflies travel to Monarch Grove’s Butterfly Sanctuary. Butterflies can be seen in this tucked-away grove year-round, but are found hanging from the eucalyptus trees in clusters from October through February before continuing their migration south. Keep your eyes peeled and walk carefully along the dirt path being mindful to not disturb these delicate creatures in their natural habitat.

Regardless of what you choose to do or see during your visit, Monterey is a city that doesn’t disappoint.

If you go: The Monterey County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau is located at 787 Munras Avenue, Suite 110, Monterey. For more information, visit SeeMonterey.com or call 888-221-1010.

Your Town Daycations is a series featured in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. This article was originally published in the February 2018 editions.