As a belated birthday present, my boyfriend took me to Monterey, California for a weekend. From Los Angeles, it was about a five hour road trip, and we decided to take the 101 freeway to get there, which isn’t how we normally go up north. I really enjoyed the road trip and seeing Central California in its lush green settings and rolling hills. There was an abundance amount of cows just roaming freely along the hills, and it instantly made me think of the Real California Cheese campaigns of ‘Happy Cows‘.
If you’re looking for a slow and relaxing weekend getaway, I suggest going to Monterey. Read on to see what a few activities might include!
MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM
I was told by someone that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the best in the country. I don’t know how true it is, as I don’t go to aquariums much at all, but she seemed to be very into animals that this statement might possibly be true. In any case, the first thing we did was visit the aquarium, and I had a great time.
The cost is a steep $40 per person, but it’s $5 cheaper if you have a student I.D. Thankfully, I look a lot younger than my age and my college ID doesn’t have a year, so I was able to use mine and score a cheaper entrance fee.
Instantly as we walked into the aquarium, there was a live feeding at a large tank. We saw a scuba diver interact with the audience and told us a few things about feeding the fishes and sharks, as well as how well Monterey Bay Aquarium treat their sea-goers. Seeing all the fishes swarm around her as she pulls bits and pieces of dead seafood was so neat, especially when it came to feeding the sharks. One of the fish who is used to using coral reefs as hiding spots (I forget the name) even tried to use HER as a hiding spot. It was hilarious and awesome.
My favorite part of the Aquarium, aside from the Diver feeding the fishes, was the Jellyfish exhibit. Oh, the colors! The movements! They moved so gracefully that I could have just sat there and watched them swim for hours. It’s amazing how these creatures are so beautiful and yet so dangerous.
One part of the Jellyfish exhibit was totally psychedelic. Neon lights everywhere, mod patterns, and groovy typefaces were everywhere. I didn’t know what to make of it, really.
Afterwards, we headed down Cannery Row, which is what Monterey is really known for. Back in World War II, this place was booming because the military would need a ton of canned fishes to send over to their soldiers. Even John Steinback wrote a book called Cannery Row that was set in this area (I haven’t read it, but after visiting, it’s next on my list of books to read).
It turns out that people actually didn’t like canned fish. So when the war was over, the demand for this product drastically fell and Cannery Row was no more.
What is left now is an industrial area that has turned into a place of tourist shops. You see the souvenir shops, the chain stores, and the random store that sells goods from Turkey.
All in all, I was super disappointed with what Cannery Row is now. Aside from a few buildings that still have the name ‘Cannery’ in it, the essence of what once was is no longer there. In its place are just ordinary shops you can find anywhere else.
I actually learned a lot more about Cannery Row at the Monterey Bay Aquarium than on Cannery Row itself.
One of the reasons Joseph chose this particular weekend to go to Monterey was because the Whale Fest was happening. Joseph had promised to take me Whale Watching and it seemed very promising to go on the weekend of the Whale Fest!
The most popular tour boat seemed to have been Princess Monterey. The cost is about $35-$45 per person, and the tour lasts about 3 hours. I am not much of a boat person as I get motion sickness from the gentle rocking of the boat. But we did end up speeding quite a bit, which helped ease the sickness.
When I think of Whale Watching, I think that the whales would be RIGHT UP near the boat, ready to show their face to us.
That is not the case at all.
Had I known, I would have brought a better camera. You know, a DSLR with a zoom lens. Instead, I brought my mirrorless Sony NEX5 camera (very good for everything else) and it just didn’t work out. The whales were actually pretty far away from you, and all we saw were the plumes of the whales breathing.
Although I didn’t see the face of a whale, we did spot a LOT of whales breathing, and even some otters swimming in a group. It was a nice day, too, to be out on a boat and take in the fresh ocean air.
17 MILE DRIVE
On our last day before heading out, we went on the 17 mile drive. You have to pay $10 to get through the gate, however. The drive leads you off to quite a lot of scenic lookout point that I think made the $10 worth it. The nice thing too, is that there were red dots along the street to guide to the next lookout point so you can’t get lost.
One of the great things about partaking in this drive is you get access to Pebble Beach and from there, you can see the famous Pebble Beach golf course. If you’re into golf, that is…
This was my favorite spot of the drive. I forget the name (curses!!) but there was a point on the beach where the rocks were rough and waves just crashes. You can smell the ocean so vividly and the way the breeze felt on your skin as it carries remnants of the ocean water.. ahh. It was such a peaceful place.
After such a nice drive, heading back home was a sad goodbye. I would have loved to stay and relax by the ocean some more.