Monterey Bay/Carmel by-the Sea

Small quaint town with big city amenities.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by npgarg on February 2, 2007

"The Aquarium" as I like to call it is one of the bigggest aquariums on the west coast. I love this place and is one of the reasons that I continue to go back to Monterey as much as I do. Basically any marine/sea animal that is found along the California Coast you can find an exhibit for it here. It is a great place for the whole family to go to with enough simpleness to the exhibit that kids can learn but not to simple that it turns off adults. It also has plenty of interactive things to do there. It used to have a touch pool where you could play with the stingrays but that exhibit has been turned to an interactive playground for the kids. None the less it is still a great place to go to and spend a morning or afternoon there.

Best part i liked was the jellyfish exhibit. It uses alot of blacklighting so you can really details that come out on the jellies but it does leave the room a little dark. Some kids might find it a bit scary.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 648-4888

Fisherman's Wharf

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by npgarg on February 2, 2007

The place to go to if you visit Monterey. It is a converted fishing wharf transformed into a place full of restaurants, shops, museums and chartering vessels.

Restaurants: This is the place if you like clam chowder. I am a clam chowder fanatic and at any coastal locations I alway try it when ever I can and I'd have to say the wharf has the best clam chowders I've ever tried. And trying is exactly what you can do as all of the restaurants server small samples to anyone passing by who is willing to take one. They all seem to have a slightly different taste to them. Personally I prefer the Fisherman's Grotto (oh the can to so stock up) but you can be your own judge. Try them all. All of the other seafood is great there to oysters, crabs, fish, shrimps, scallops, abalone... all great.

Shops: Lots of interesting shops from candy stores to trinkets to jewelry. Not quite my thing but the candy apples at the candy store sure hit the spot after a nice chowder breadbowl.

Chartering: You can get several types of chartering services from coastal tour, glass bottom boats, whale watching to deep-sea fishing to scuba expeditions (Monterey is a Mecca for scuba diving in the kelp forests off shore, there are plenty of place you can scuba just off shore and find a great spot). Most tours/trips have several departure times though out the day.

Museums: There are a few sailing/shipping museums there but actually never been in them. Not my fancy (I prefer the aquarium).

Misc: There are also several special event/concerts that take place on the wharf through out the year. And there is also the wildlife. Sea Lions congregate all around the pier and underneath is sometimes hundreds at a time. So many to the point that they have to set up barrier fences to separate them from the people. Beware they can get aggressive and they actually stink pretty bad. There are also several sea otters that inhabit the waters around the wharf that you fun to watch as they play along in the nearby kelp beds.

Overall while I might skip going to the aquarium or 17 mile drive when or cannery row when I go to Monterey. I always make it a point to go to the wharf. It is a must-go to especially if you like seafood. Nothing beats getting a bread-bowl to go then taking to one of the several less touristy parks along the coast with love ones and sitting and slurping up the chowder while watching one of the most beautiful sunsets in all of Cali. If it just wasn't so expensive to live there...
Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf
Monterey, California, 93940

17-Mile Drive

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by npgarg on February 13, 2007

All I can say is that if you've never driven this stretch of road before, do yourself a favor and ride on it at least once in your life time. 17-mile drive is probably one of the most scenic drives in all of the US. It contains on several stops throughout the drive with places like Bird Rock, the Lone Cyprus along with several premier golf courses and links like Pebble Beach, Spy Glass Hill, Inn at Spanish Bay.

There is a slight fee per car on entrance (which there are 2 main, one in Pacific Grove and the other in Carmel).

Overall it is a very relaxing drive and a great place for sightseers and scrap bookers. It always seems like there is always a better photo op around the next bend.

One of my favorite things to do is stop at Pebble Beach and visit the store and the real estate broker and just day dream about one day owning one of the houses. Oh yah, you know that you own a great house when it has its own name. And all of the houses there have their own names.

A great way to finish off the drive is to end it in Carmel-by-the-Sea and roam around the shops and restaurants there. And Carmel Beach is also one of my favorites N. Cali beaches.
17 Mile Drive
Pebble Beach -- Monterey Peninsula
Monterey, California

Dennis the Menace Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by npgarg on February 13, 2007

This place is a child's paradise. It is just a hop skip and a jump from the beach or the wharf. This is one of the most amazing free public parks I've been to. I can't pass by it without my kids begging to go there.

It is located next to a medium sized lake. It has ample space around it for a nice picnic and also a place to rent paddle boat for an hour for a few bucks. And you can never go wrong with feeding the geese and ducks that frequent the area. It's is frowned upon by the city to do this but have never seen anyone warned against this. Also the birds around there are quite comfortable with humans and you'll end up feeding them whether or not you want to. The main park actually consists of two parks, a playground area, and a skate park.

The playground area is full of any type of playground equipment you can think of, slides of different lengths and inclines fit enough for kids of all ages. Some of them were so steep that my wife wouldn't go down them. There is also a huge jungle gym with one of the bigger suspension playground bridges that I have seen. There are also several teeter tooters and swings. But one of the coolest things is that there is a full sized replica of a steam engine right in the front. Though I would be worry of having smaller kids playing on this without close supervision; it seems like it would be too easy for a kid to fall off and hurt themselves.

The skate park is a fairly decent sized one with a whole variety of ramps, quarter pipes, half pipes, and rails to please skate boarders and inline skaters of most skill levels. For safety I even believe that there is a fire station that is over by the picnic side of the park.

Overall this is a great place to take kids to have a nice cheap day of fun. It's been a few months now since we've gone, but it is something that my 4-year-old daughter remembers and keeps asking when we are going to go back there.
Dennis the Menace Park
9125 Arrington Ave.
Monterey, California

Monarch Butterfly Grove

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by npgarg on February 14, 2007

Every year monarch butterflies start a 2000-mile 1-month journey to several places along the California Coast from Big Sur to Santa Cruz. Nearly hundreds of thousand make this trip yearly first arriving to the Cali coast in late summer to early Fall. It is all for the procreation of their species. Urbanization in California has reduced the mating places to a few. And none of them are better than the Monarch Grove in Pacific Grove AKA Butterfly Town, USA.

During these late summer months and early fall months you can literally see thousands of monarch butterflies clinging to trees here resting from their long journey and waiting for the temperature to get above 50 degrees F. Any lower and their wings get to brittle from them to fly. Then they start their midair courtship which culminates with them falling to the ground and finishing there mating.

It is amazing seeing a large mass of butterflies covering the trees there to the point that you can't really make out leaves any more.

The park itself is a good location for a nice picnic, actually it is one of my favorite places to sit and eat my newly acquired clam chowder from the wharf. It is a nice open area with a great view of the setting sun. There is actually a beach that is located down a set of stair, since the park is almost on cliff, that I have seen scuba divers swim from to scuba in the kelp bed that are just a 20-50 yards off shore from the park.

At the back of the park, for the more adventure, there are some rock formations that is actually fun to climb up to get a better view of the surf breaking along the coastline. It is quite amazing when the swell is big. But be careful when those rock get wet it can be quite slippery. It is also a spot frequented by sea birds so there are quite a few droppings around the rocks.

Also if you do go there during the mating season of the monarchs be sure not to disturb the butterflies as molestation of butterflies does carry a $1000.00 fine in Pacific Grove. Pacific Grove has been working aggressively in recent years to preserve these monarch habitats and trying to expand. Oh if your coming to see the monarch butterflies on the tree need to get there early once the temp gets greater than 50 degrees they start to fly off.

This is another great relaxing fun thing to do in Monterey. And best of all it's free.
Monarch Butterfly Grove
south on Doliver / US1
Monterey, California

© LP 2000-2009