Welcome to Monterey, home of the magnificent Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and a John Steinbeck novel or two. As any astute traveler knows, the best way to really experience what a place has to offer is to go exploring by foot. From your base at HI Monterey hostel, you can cover many of Monterey’s historic, scenic and downright delicious must-dos.
The Queen of Cannery Row and Mack and the Boys
Kalisa Moore, who was known as the Queen of Cannery Row, was beloved as the owner of La Ida Café, which has a mention in John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Fittingly, the Queen of Cannery Row’s bust faces an almost-real looking mural of a group of workers alongside a short extract from Cannery Row.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Located on the site of a former sardine cannery, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a highlight for anyone fascinated by life under the sea with its extensive collection of plants and animals. Hours: Mon – Thurs: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Fri-Sun: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Good to know: Visit montereybayaquarium.org to plan your visit around special feeding times.
Doc Ricketts’ Lab
The back of pioneer marine biologist and John Steinbeck muse Ed “Doc” Ricketts’ laboratory is visible from an alley marked “Coastal Access” between the aquarium and the InterContinental hotel. Hours: 24-hour access
Ed Ricketts’ Bust
A life-size bronze bust of Ed Ricketts sits on the corner of Drake and Wave Streets, right on the old railway crossing where a passenger train hit his car, which caused his death in 1948. Hours: 24-hours access
McAbee Beach and Steinbeck Plaza
McAbee Beach and the Steinbeck Plaza are both adorned with bronzed statues of key Monterey figures, like John Steinbeck, who were considered important to Cannery Row. Hours: 24-hour access
Cannery Divers Memorial
This monument on Cannery row honors hard-hat divers who risked their lives installing and maintaining the canneries’ underwater sardine pipes and pumps. Hours: 24-hour access
Sister City Park
This park has benches and an amazing view of the ocean and the Coast Guard Pier popular with scuba divers and barking sea lions. Hours: 24-hour access
The Custom House at Monterey State Historic Park
The Monterey State Historic Park is a collection of important historical buildings dating back to the 1800s when California first became a part of the U.S. and Monterey was the capital city. Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Take a stroll along the tree-lined Alvarado Street, the main road stretch of Old Monterey to the Cooper-Molera Adobe, which houses a sort-of-secret historic garden behind its high walls. There are about two-acres to explore with a historic garden and a barn. Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fisherman’s Wharf 1 and 2
Fisherman’s Wharf is a touristy stretch lined with restaurants and candy shops, while the Municipal Wharf (or Fisherman’s Wharf 2) is the more locally loved pier. The Sandbar and Grill on the Municipal Wharf is one of the few places in town you can try abalone, a California delicacy. Hours: The Sandbar and Grill is open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., and both piers are accessible for 24 hours.
The Statue of Santa Rosalia
Santa Rosalia, who overlooks the bay near Fisherman’s Wharf, is the patron saint of Italian fisherman who first came to Monterey in the early 20th century. Hours: 24-hour access
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Monterey: a Mini Music Capital
For music fans and appreciators, Monterey is a place for iconic firsts for pop, rock and jazz culture. Today there are many opportunities for visitors to get an earful of music that throws back to Monterey’s glory days and showcases its vibrant present.
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Monterey: A Mini Music Capital