12 Best Hotels in Monterey, United States - Jan 2019
Your Travel Guide to Monterey
Monterey is a seaside resort town in the Central Coast area. For a good part of the 20th century, its main industry was sardine fishing and canning. Now, it is most famous for its aquarium, which, when it opened in 1984, was responsible for reviving the city’s economy, for attracting visitors to the vast variety of marine life that can be viewed first-hand. But that’s not all. There is also a vibrant nightlife and attractions along the coast, as well as numerous opportunities to enjoy the beach.
What are the Must-Do-s and See-s in Monterey?
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium one of Monterey’s biggest attractions. The aquarium is well-known among Star Trek fans, as playing a pivotal role in the film “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”. In the movie, the crew of the Enterprise have to locate a pair of humpback whales, and bring them back to the 23rd century, since the whales had long become extinct.
But it’s not just by chance that this aquarium was chosen as the setting for the movie. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is actually famous for its conservation efforts. The admission to the aquarium is somewhat steep (almost $50 for adults, $30 for children), but much of this money goes to research and conservation of marine species. The Aquarium is famous for its Open Sea Wing and its Kelp Forest--at 28 feet tall, it is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. This allows you to see a wide variety of sea creatures in their natural habitat.
There are periodic feeding times at the various exhibits, as well as daily programs involving the museum’s efforts to raise endangered species such as sea otters and great white sharks, methods of observing deep-sea fish, and more.
For an additional fee, there is even an “Underwater Explorers” program, where kids can go surface scuba diving to see the animals up front! If you’re looking for a hotel in close proximity with the aquarium, go with the InterContinental the Clement of Monterey. It will also give you easy access to all of the attractions on Cannery Row.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is big, but it’s just one of the attractions of Cannery Row--a street formerly named Ocean View Avenue that previously had a number of sardine canning factories, but was renamed in honor of the John Steinbeck novel “Cannery Row”. Nowadays, Cannery Row is known for its ambiance and social life:
- Restaurants: There are 25 different restaurants on Cannery Row, as well as locations that offer small sample sizes of their most famous dishes.
- Wine Tasting: Monterey County is also famous for growing grapes and wine making. On Cannery Row, you can enjoy wine samples from different wineries, featuring the 60 different wine tasting rooms that serve delicious appetizers along with the wine.
- Whale watching: Besides experiencing marine life in the Aquarium, there are other ways to get up close to the marine animals. Another activity is hitching along to a whale watching tour, such as the Discovery Whale Watch. The whale-watching tours usually depart from Wharf 1. A naturalist guide will accompany you, giving advice on how to see and photograph marine life. The guide will also enlighten you about whale behavior and conservation measures being taken. You might be able to get up close to whales, sea otters, sea lions, and more! If you want, there are also opportunities for scuba diving and taking in algae, sea stars, sea cucumbers, crabs, to mention just a few.
- Adventures by the Sea: Adventures by the Sea is a recreational company that allows you to rent kayaks, paddleboards, or bikes to take in large swathes of Monterey Bay. There are several stations along Cannery Row where you can rent equipment.
Dennis the Menace Playground and the Monterey County Youth Museum
The Dennis the Menace Playground is on the shore of the El Estero Lake, and is part of a 45-acre park with areas for picnicking or strolling. The creator of the comic strip, Hank Ketchum, actually funded some of the building of the playground. There are enough activities, such as giant slides and climbing walls, to keep your children occupied. Afterwards, when they get tired, you can take them to the nearby Monterey County Youth Museum. It has exhibits for learning about the beach and marine life, as well as about recycling efforts and farming. The Comfort Inn Monterey, the Days Inn Monterey Downtown, and the Hotel Abrego are all located in the area.
Getting Around in Monterey
Monterey Regional Airport
Monterey has a small airport that offers flights to the major cities in the area: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco. You can make connections from these cities to many international domestic flights.
There is a bus service called MST (“Monterey-Salinas Transit”) that gets you from the airport to Monterey proper, as well as to the neighboring towns of Carmel, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Seaside, and Big Sur. You of course also have the options of using a taxi, Lyft, Uber, and the Monterey Airbus-Airport Shuttle.