California Dreamin’ in Monterey, Part Two

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Prepare to be awed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Cannery Row. Courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium

Cannery Row, the historic waterfront district made famous by John Steinbeck, is idyllically situated on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and is so much fun for the whole family to explore. Of course, you’ll want to spend some time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is covered in the first article in this series, California Dreamin’ in Monterey, Part One. Walking out of the Aquarium, you’ll find yourself at the end of Cannery Row. Your kids may clamor immediately to venture inside Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop, and you’ll be delighted to indulge them, once you catch sight of the menu. Try “The Gold Rush,” a peanut butter hot fudge sundae topped with whipped cream, chopped almonds, a cherry and a Ghirardelli Squares Milk Chocolate. Or, if your family is feeling adventurous, you can all dig into “The Earthquake,” which consists of eight–yep, eight!–scoops of ice cream and eight delicious toppings, finished with fresh bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, decadent chocolate chips and cherries. Have I made you drool yet?

Monterey Plaza Hotel

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, courtesy of Cannery Row

For more sophisticated fare, Schooners Bistro on the Bay (at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa) has an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining, and it’s fun to sit out there eating clam chowder and watching the marine life (including those cunning little otters) go by.

The Fish Hopper is a terrific place to go for seafood so fresh you’ll think it just hopped out of the sea and onto your plate. And the ocean views are complimentary.

Cannery Row at Twilight

Cannery Row at Twilight, copyright 2010 Kerrick James

To work off all those calories while you’re on Cannery Row, you can go kayaking on the Monterey Bay National Sanctuary, or rent a surrey (four-wheeled bike with canopy) to coast along the 18-mile Coastal Recreation Trail, which runs over the old Southern Pacific railroad lines that serviced Cannery Row when the sardine canneries were in full swing.

Spindrift Inn

A beautiful room in the Spindrift Inn, Monterey

For a romantic rendezvous in the heart of the Cannery Row area, one of the most endearing places I’ve ever experienced is the Spindrift Inn, a European-style boutique hotel with 45 luxuriously-appointed rooms. I highly recommend Room 407, which has a wood-burning fireplace and a window seat where you can perch and watch the waves roll by. (Room 303 is wonderful, too.)

Spindrift Exterior

The Spindrift Inn in Monterey

If you’re with your lovey-dovey, and you want to pull out all the stops–including soft feather bedding, a marble bath, a wine and cheese reception in the lobby every afternoon, breakfast served on a silver tray at a time of your choosing in the morning, plus the sound of the ocean lulling you to sleep all night long–then this should definitely be your home base in Monterey.

Of course, no visit to Monterey is complete without a trip to Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where even more attractions abound. And that brings us to California Dreamin’ in Monterey, Part Three. Be sure to also read about more hotel options in Monterey in California Dreamin’ in Monterey, Part Four.


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