Monterey Peninsula's Iconic Cannery Row

shutterstock_241542529For years some of our favorite vacations have been to the Monterey Bay area, including the peninsula’s well known destinations like Carmel, Pebble Beach, Carmel Valley and downtown Monterey itself. Each town has their own unique qualities, but Monterey may offer the most options for accommodations, restaurants, historical landmarks and attractions in the downtown and at their famous Cannery Row. Whether you’re bringing the kids, looking for a fun-filled activity or seeking a romantic respite; “The Row” can provide equal parts relaxation, entertainment, culinary highlights, adventure and education. Long gone is the roughshod era of the seafood cannery days brought to such infamous reality by the illustrious Nobel Prize winning author, John Steinbeck. Not only did Steinbeck write about Cannery Row, he lived and caroused in-and-around the area for many years of his life. And today he’d not recognize his favorite haunts. Old cannery buildings and shipping piers now house colorful shops, ethnic restaurants, dazzling hotels and a multitude of upscale occupants not around in the rugged Steinbeck era.


cannery row monumentWhat to Do and See:

Attractions and activities on Cannery Row provide something for all ages and interests. First and foremost, sign up for tickets to the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, considered one of the finest sea life exhibitions and research centers on the globe.  Don’t miss the otter feedings, the jellyfish exhibit and the penguin enclave. If you are bringing the kids, be sure to include these four attractions under the same roof: Mirror Maze; Mini Golf (with a 3-D black light background); Laser Maze (reach the bank vault without breaking laser beams); and Video Game Arcade. Bicycling, including tooling around the area in four-wheeled surreys holding up to six passengers, is a fun couples or family outing on the mostly paved Coastal Recreation Trail. Kayaking and paddle boarding on Monterey Bay, a world renowned National Marine Sanctuary, can be an amazing experience as you often encounter sea otters, harbor seals, dolphins or sea lions. For rentals of the above: Just strolling the Rec Trail to Lover’s Point in nearby Pacific Grove and walking the other direction to Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Harbor, both along the water, are always pleasurable outings. Keep a lookout for sea lions and their pups resting on the shore.


Canner Row Brewing Company 1NC_4223 For a little raucous nightlife consider dropping into Sly McFly’s offering live blues, jazz, funk or classic rock every night. Cannery Row Brewing Company and Cooper’s Pub also offer live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights and the Brewing Company is our favorite sports bar on the Peninsula.;


Into shopping? Many store choices are available from fine jewelry, antiques, and art to a wide variety of casual boutiques, candy and gift shops. Our favorite is always the Cannery Row Antique Mall, the largest antique and collectibles emporium on the Central Coast. We almost always find hard to resist purchases. Also, don’t miss checking out the recently unveiled stunning Cannery Row Monument, a bronze and rock-like sculpture depicting life size figures of John Steinbeck, his friend Doc Ricketts-considered by many as one of the fathers of marine biology-and other local luminaries, both past and present.


Monterey Plaza Rooftop Spa SundeckLodging, Dining, Spa Treatments:

Based on our own stays we can unabashedly recommend the following hotels. Close friends had often told us the Spindrift Inn was their personal favorite in Monterey and that it had been named one of the country’s most romantic boutique hotels. Our first stay a few weeks ago verified their spot-on recommendation and our stay was especially memorable as we found these exceptional highlights: a very friendly staff; wood burning fireplaces in all the rooms-many with bay views; continental breakfasts delivered to the room; a rooftop garden; and an evening wine and cheese reception. It’s also the only “Row” lodging option right on a beach and although McAbee Beach is small, it’s still a beach!; Monterey Bay Inn has long been our personal favorite as we’ve parked our suitcases here more than any other Monterey property. Many rooms have bay views and from some you can see Monterey Harbor, Fisherman’s Wharf and city lights at night. Delightful continental breakfasts served in your room, a casual relaxing atmosphere and a spectacular very romantic 24/7 rooftop Jacuzzi-type spa are hallmarks.; In our eyes, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, the largest on “The Row” has been one of the area’s most luxurious since it opened in 1986. This four Diamond property and Trip Advisor’s # 1 Monterey hotel has continued all these years to offer beautifully updated rooms and public areas, bay view dining showcasing fresh seafood in Schooners Coastal Kitchen and state-of-the-art spa treatments in the resort’s national award winning Vista Blue Spa on the rooftop.; The Clement Monterey, an Inter-Continental premier property, is the newest on Cannery Row and the closest lodging to the aquarium. The Clement is also giving the Plaza robust competition for high-end vacationers and folks seeking upscale meeting facilities, wedding sites and/or deluxe spa services. Their C Restaurant featuring California coastal cuisine, local organic produce, Angus beef and panoramic bay view vistas was a lovely culinary experience. Although we haven’t stayed in either one, we’ve heard favorable comments about both the Victorian Inn and Otter Inn as excellent value priced properties if your budget might be a little tight .;



IMG_1454Wine Tasting and More Dining Options:

For a unique wine tasting experience overlooking the Bay be sure to try A Taste of Monterey featuring a grand selection of Monterey County wines and very creative food offerings. There is an excellent variety of restaurants, besides the two hotels in this historic district, which should satisfy most culinary tastes and pocketbooks including, at the forefront, the world class award winning Sardine Factory. This oft acclaimed eatery has long been a personal fave for those special occasion or romantic dining experiences. Distinctive cuisine, impeccable service and a critically acclaimed wine list are featured. When making reservations be sure to ask for a table near the fireplace and a tour of their wine cellar, if it’s not being used for a private party. And try to stick around after dinner to enjoy a talented piano bar performer five nights a week. For more casual grub drop into the popular local favorites Louie Linguini’s Seafood Shack or the Fish Hopper.;



For more information on additional lodging, dining, attractions, shopping and all things found at Monterey County’s premier family destination go to:; or