If you’re searching for the perfect small resort beach town on the west coast, then grab a pen and add Monterey, CA to the top of your vacation list. My boyfriend and I had the opportunity to make a stop in the town of Monterey while we were moving from Modesto to our new home in Los Angeles. I had been told again and again by family and friends to check out Monterey. They never said much other then it was incredibly beautiful, charming and I would love it, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must see. It was an easy decision for the two of us. We packed our car, which miraculously fit all of our belongings, and headed west. Here are a few of my favorite experiences from the weekend and tips.
My boyfriend and I arrived late Friday afternoon and the weather was unfortunately grey, rainy and cold – not exactly your ideal vacation weather in the popular beach town. Since we found out the day before we were being relocated, we had to book the hotel the morning of. I searched Hotwire and found a great deal for a 3-star hotel located just a few blocks from Alvarado Street, which is the town’s main drag. Once we were settled in our room, I immediately searched for some restaurants nearby.
Alvarado Street Brewery popped up and a few beers sounded refreshing after the long drive. We ran over to the brewery, despite the rain, for dinner and some brews. We had to wait a little while until our table was ready, so we walked around to get a feel of the town. The main street offered several boutique stores and authentic restaurants. I only noticed one chain – Walgreens, but I loved how even the building and signage was all designed to blend in with the towns quaint style. Once I received a call from the brewery, we made our way back to the restaurant. I gotta say, so far I haven’t been too impressed with the local beers I have tried in California, but I definitely enjoyed the few I had at Monterey’s local brewery. I definitely recommend making a stop here during your visit. Not only were the food and beers tasty, but I also loved the industrial warehouse style. The glass wall dividing the restaurant and brewery allows you to eat and watch the brewers make the good stuff.
The next morning, I stepped outside to check the weather and I could see the sun desperately trying to make an appearance. At least it wasn’t raining like it was supposed to. My boyfriend and I figured the Monterey Bay Aquarium was the perfect outing for the day since the weather was unpredictable. On our way we stopped by The Bagel Bakery, where I had the best veggie omelet breakfast bagel I have ever had. We also grabbed coffee at a recommended local spot called Plumes Coffee House, because the day doesn’t officially start until I have my coffee! Full and caffeinated, we drove to the funky and hip Cannery Row where the aquarium is located.
The streets are lined with the typical tourist gift shops, small clothing and jewelry boutiques, surf shops, the famous Bubba Gump and several parents pushing their little ones in strollers. Make sure you check the price of the aquarium before you head straight there, because the price is pretty steep. It was $39.95 for a single adult ticket. It’s a few dollars cheaper if you are a student, or graduated and still carry your student ID around just in case of situations like this! Still, it’s pricey and may or may not be worth the extra cash depending on the weather and what your interests are. We have always been told to check out the aquarium, so we were already pumped to go and decided it was worth the splurge.
The aquarium was packed with parents and their eager children weaving their way through the crowds, pressing their hands up against the glass tanks and point at the interesting creatures. It took my boyfriend and I about two and a half hours to wander through the entire aquarium and hit each exhibit. We enjoyed watching a giant bright orange octopus crawl back and forth from one end of it’s tank to the other, three sea otters have lunch and perform tricks, a 4-foot long sea turtle, and my all time favorite – jellyfish. Among the big jellies I spotted one tiny jellyfish the size of the tip of my pinky. It was adorable!
Later in the evening my boyfriend and I were trying to decide what to do, so I searched my trusty Groupon app for deals in the area and found comedy show tickets at Planet Gemini. Planet Gemini has that dingy underground dance club feel to it, so at first we felt a little out of place. The bouncer stamped out hands and directed us through the main dance room to a smaller room with a tiny stage and bar. The room was tight and we happened to be seated only a few inches away from the front of the stage. We literally could not have been any closer. Although my neck was a little strained, my cheeks burned from laughing. The show did turn out to be a great way to end our night and visit.
Monterey left a very strong impression on the both of us. We have our fingers crossed that we will have a chance to visit the relaxed beach town again, or better yet be relocated there to live for a few months. There is so much more to do and to discover in Monterey and the surrounding towns such as surfing in the bay, the 17-mile drive, Big Sur, and whale watching. Those are a just few things on my list if I ever make it back. Or maybe I’ll just book my ticket now…meet me there?