A First Timer's Guide Monterey, CA

Gorgeous boats at the end of Old Fisherman's Wharf

Traveling is about taking risks and even though there are no guarantees, traveling is all about what you make of it. This trip had it's ups and downs but moments like these call for some real spontaneity and an opportunity to turn a tough situation into an adventure.

Our recent trip to Monterey Bay was not without its disappointments, but it was definitely worthwhile. We hope to visit again next year (fingers crossed!) to check off a few things we didn't get to do the first time around.

There are so many things to do in Monterey Bay and the surrounding area and a four day trip is just not enough time! But here are just a few ideas of things you can see and do.



This cool guy at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Honestly, who doesn't think to go to the aquarium when visiting Monterey Bay?
Although, it is not the largest aquarium in the United States, it's unique because a lot of the wildlife there can be found on or not far from the California coast. There was a gorgeous kelp forest aquarium which was one of my favorites. But the most fun part was the interactive kid stations where you could touch tide pool creatures including abalones, jewel-topped snails and decorator crabs. We also discovered different kinds of sea algae like sea grapes and sea lettuce!
Soon after exploring the aquarium, we explored tide pools on the beach and found several of the things we had just seen at the aquarium including sea grapes!



After the aquarium we walked north on the coastal trail to have lunch at Old Fisherman's Wharf!
You can also rent a tandem bike (from Adventures by the Sea) and take in the view on a breezy ride.

Old Fisherman's Wharf features several bright candy stores selling salt water taffy and outside several restaurants you can sample clam chowder to your heart's content.

We chose to eat at Scales for lunch where we had a clear view of the marina from our table.

The view from our table at Scales restaurant on Old Fisherman's Wharf

We even witnessed a sea lion catching a fish as well as several adorable otters meandering around the boats!

The food was great! They gave us a free appetizer of calamari which was the best either of us have ever had. For the main course, I ordered macadamia crusted Alaskan halibut with roasted vegetables and mapled sweet potatoes with a pineapple sauce and a mango papaya salsa. My husband chose Cajun salmon, white fish, and prawns with jasmine rice. And for dessert we got a slice of delicious key lime pie. Old Fisherman's Wharf is clearly perfect for fish lovers like us, but if that's not your thing, there are many other choices including pastas and steak entrees.

Trying to decide what to eat first at Scales


My husband pretending to eat sea grapes

I love, love, LOVE the beach. I could spend hours resting on the soft sand and watching the tides come in and out. And while Monterey is not an ideal place to swim thanks to the often chilly surf, there are many beaches perfect for exploring tide pools and watching sea lions. One even wriggled onto the beach where we spent a few hours. He was so cute and seemed very at ease despite the crowd gathering around him. Of course, we kept a respectful distance. 

If you love the ocean and love wildlife, just take a moment on your trip to relax and explore some of the many gorgeous beaches in the Monterey area. There are so many things to do when traveling, but sometimes a bit of unplanned exploring is good for the soul.


Whale watching was the number on reason why I wanted to go to on this vacation. After a bit of searching I discovered a company called Fast Raft. It's a small motorized raft boat that holds only six passengers which enables the tour guides to get closer to the whales. And because the boat is so small, the whales often find courage to swim right up to you. 

I read many great reviews about Fast Raft, and happy customers said that it was well worth the expense. They say the smaller boat is ideal because you aren't crowding at a boat railing trying to get a view. Instead you are right at the water's surface, right there next to the animals!

Unfortunately, the day before and after our scheduled whale watching tour were bright and sunny, but the day of was too windy and the guides had to cancel the tour and gave us a full refund. I was honestly pretty upset, but sometimes plans don't work out. And that's okay because it made room for some fun that we didn't expect.

 We will, for sure, go whale watching someday, and I will let you know how it goes when we do.

We finally went whale watching in Monterey Bay!


Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

There is so much to do along the coast, but how many of you knew there was a redwood grove so close to Monterey?

I admire my husband's positive attitude when our whale watching tour was canceled. Don't get me wrong, he was just as upset as I was. But after only a few minutes moping in the car he looked up things we could do instead. What he found turned out to be the adventure we needed that day. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is 40-acre redwood grove located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and well worth the drive.

On our way there Josiah said, "We can't see some of the biggest animals today but we will see some of the biggest plants in the world." I had no idea it was there and what a great side trip it was! We walked through crazy enormous trees, saw banana slugs, and made friends with a huge cyclist team who kindly took this picture of us on a trestle bridge. 

And if you don't want to walk through the woods, you can take an open train and see the whole park!

Whatever you choose to do in Monterey Bay or wherever you go allow yourself to always turn disasters into adventures. You can learn so much from these moments so make them count.

What would you most like to do in Monterey Bay?

Celebrating our first anniversary on a trestle bridge amid giant redwoods

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog. 


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