After Santa Cruz we took the short drive (43 miles) around the bay down the coast to Monterey. Monterey is a lovely little seaside town with two distinct parts to it – Fishermans Wharf / Downtown area, and Cannery Row.
The Old Fishermans Wharf was busy with people and had an abundance of seafood restaurants trying to get you to sample their wares – Clam Chowder is very popular here!! In addition, to the restaurants there are also gift shops, candy shops and outlets offering whale watching trips, glass bottom boat tours, and sailing trips.
We had previously been whale watching on our Australian travels and as such did not go in California, however if you have never been whale watching then Monterey would be a great place to do it. There is actually plenty of sealife to see on the pier itself as there were loads of barking sea lions lying on the supporting beams of the pier or swimming around the area of the pier, as well as some otters.
The Old Fishermans Wharf itself was built in 1845 for trading vessels brining foods from around Cape Horn. At that time, Monterey was the major port on the Pacific Coast. In the years to follow the booming whale industry took over the Wharf but it was the little tiny sardine that made Monterey an industry leader.
We then walked the scenic pathway along the coast (takes about 15 minutes) which takes you to Cannery Row. Cannery Row used to be called Ocean View Avenue but was changed after John Steinbecks novel. After the fish industry boomed in Monterey so then did the fish canning industry and the factories started setting up in what was Ocean View Avenue.
After WW11 the over-fished sardines disappeared from the seas around Monterey and brought economic disaster to Cannery Row which started to fall into decline. However readers and fans of John Steinbecks Cannery Row novel brought visitors to the area so they could experience the feel and the ambience of the street. Over the decades the area has grown into a popular place for tourists and one of the main attractions is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The street is lined with shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and galleries and is a really nice place to visit.
Four miles and 11 miles down Highway 1 from Monterey is the beautiful town of Carmel – it has a lovely beach, stunning houses of different styles (we particularly loved the various cottage style buildings). The town centre is compact and extremely well laid out and easy to walk around. It has lots of little boutique shops, family owned cafes & restaurants (no chains here), galleries, and hotels. You will find prices slightly higher in this little town but it oozes charm and elegance and is definitely worth a visit.
We found out a few interesting facts about Carmel when we were there – they have no house to house mail delivery, everything goes to their central postal office and the local residents go there to pick up their mail. They also have no real street addresses. Clint Eastwood was mayor of the village from 1986-1988. The one we found most amusing was that if you want to wear high heels over 2 inches high or wish a base of less then 1 inch then you have to get a permit from City Hall – it’s the law!!! However apparently the police do not cite those violating this law but is it worth the risk!! Apparently the law was introduced in the 1920’s to stop lawsuits against the city from high-heeled show wearers who trip over irregular pavements which have been distorted by tree roots.