Things to Do in Monterey

January 26, 2021

Filed in: Field Guide

Monterey is an old family haunt. When I was a kid, we used to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium several times a year to see the jellyfish and eat dry cinnamon rolls from Lily’s. I was terrified that the million-gallon tank would shatter and we would drown, but by the time we got around to the saltwater taffy store, I was too busy pulling it out of my teeth to remember the terror.

No visit was ever complete without a meal at the Fish Hopper, either. Their clam chowder is the best I’ve ever had, hands down. Even after tasting many other chowders and living in Boston, the Fish Hopper is the place to be. And somehow, we always manage to find our way to Ghirardelli’s for sundaes.

Things to Do in Monterey

  1. Eat at the Fish Hopper (duh). Clam chowder and any fried seafood and pasta you can get your hands on.
  2. Eat a cinnamon roll at Lily’s. But only the middle.
  3. Hit Cannery Row and buy a bag of taffy.
  4. Pedal a tuk-tuk to Lovers’ Point. If you’re a maniac, rent two and race the other one there. (My brother did this.)
  5. Walk down the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s colorful with pastel hues, smells of funnel cakes and too much sugar, and is a little world of its own.
  6. Sundaes at Ghirardelli.
  7. The aquarium (also duh). The million-gallon tank is sturdy, which reassures my childhood self that I will neither drown no be forced to swim with sharks.

Things to Do in Carmel, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea is close to Monterey, a distance of less than five miles. It has a reputation as an artists’ enclave—including the likes of the famous Ansel Adams himself. If you’re making a weekend of the Monterey Bay, you should definitely make time for Carmel. It’s cute, quaint, artsy, and incredibly snazzy.

  1. Walk through the town center. The patina of the little cottage buildings will transport you straight to Europe. Stop in for an ice cream or duck into an art gallery.
  2. Take a stroll down Carmel Beach. There are some spectacularly beautiful homes on the coast with equally incredible views.
  3. Take the 17-Mile Drive. This is where you’ll meet the iconic lone cypress. Do note, however, that you will have to pay to drive on the road as it’s a part of a private community. The cost is $11.25 per vehicle, but the views are well worth it!
  4. Stop in at any of the Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants for a pick-me-up. (They’ll waive the entrance fee to the 17-Mile Drive for tickets over $35.)

A cypress tree shades the foreground of an image of the coastline in Monterey near Lover's Point.

Left: Small sailboats dot the harbor on a sunny day in Monterey, California. Right: A girl in a white, knee-length sundress holds onto her wide-brimmed straw hat as she balances on the rock at Lovers Point, Monterey.

Birds crowd on a rock in the harbor at Monterey, as a seagull flies overhead and a sea lion swims in the foreground.

Left: A turquoise tower with a pink, conical roof, reminiscent of Wes Anderson, rises from behind a pink building. Right: Bougainvillea hangs on the vine against a beige wall as sunlight gently hits it.

The iconic red building on Cannery Row in Monterey reads "Monterey Canning Company" in large, capital white letters. An American flag sits centered on the roof against a blue sky.

Left: A vintage car sits at the stop sign in front of a skywalk that straddles Cannery Row. The skywalk, a burnt orange-red color, reads "Monterey Canning Co." in large, capital white letters. Right: Old Fishermans Wharf, which sits on the water, boasts colorful yellow, pink, and blue buildings which are reflected in the water below. They sit, raised on the piers.

Images on my Hasselblad 500cm, Ansel, and my Nikon F100, Norman.

I am a San Francisco Bay Area film photographer specialising in the floral portrait,  families, love stories, and (personal) brands. Want to work together? Get in touch! I’d love to know your story. If you need fine art prints & posters to decorate your home, check out my print shop!

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Paris & California strolls; plenty of flowers; stories; and looking for the beauty in the everyday. I hope you'll come along as I take the year to document the entirety of my home state!