I've been traveling to Monterey Bay in California since I was in elementary school. You may not know this, dear Reader, but I actually have a Master of Science in Biology (!!!) and have been passionately interested in marine animals (specifically sea turtles) since before I can remember. True story: I used to send my dad out into the water with sets of empty, sealed baby food jars and instructions to collect samples at different depths, which I would then look at under the microscope to see what differences I could find (and did I mention I was 9?). In fact, my professional career (until I started blogging full time in January of 2016) was conducting water chemistry for aquariums and ocean institutes.
All that to say that, with it's state-of-the-art aquarium, Monterey Bay has been near and dear to my heart for decades. However, I think my love affair with the city was signed and sealed the day G and I made it our honeymoon destination.
It's hard to go wrong in Monterey and Pacific Grove when it comes to accommodations. Both cities have amazing high-end hotels and the quaintest B&B's to suit everyone's taste and budget. I've stayed a few places there over the years, but these continue to be my top three:
1) Portola Hotel and Spa - Right where Fisherman's Wharf begins, this jewel sits. I love that it has the most gorgeous indoor courtyard and is steps away from the seafood, shopping, and whale-watching departures on the wharf.
2) Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa - The most gorgeous place to stay near Cannery Row and the Aquarium. This place is luxe at it's finest, and you won't regret a moment spent there. Bonus: Schooner's is located in the hotel, and the brunch there is T.O.P.S.
3) Jabberwock Inn - If you're more the B&B type, you can't go wrong with Jabberwock. Located just blocks away from Cannery Row, this Inn boasts great location, the quaintest decor, and some pretty stellar views if you get the right room.
4) Inn at Spanish Bay - Okay, so it's a dream of mine to stay here *someday*, but G and I spent a lot of time here during our honeymoon. I'll talk more about what to do here in the "Play" section, but don't miss eating at the Roy's located here! I still talk about the lobster tail I had.
Where do I even begin with this one? All the seafood joints on Fisherman's Wharf are delicious. Just try the chowder being offered in front of each one and pic your fav! And, as mentioned above, you need to try Schooner's. That being said, I do have a few hands-down favorites, so I'll share those with you now:
1) Crystal Fish - This is one of the best sushi places I've ever been to, and I really like sushi. At Crystal Fish, the fish is fresh, the rice is perfectly sticky, and the atmosphere is relaxed.
2) Fishwife - I've been going to the Fishwife since I was a kid, and it was the first place G and I ate on our honeymoon. And guess what? Decades later, it's still amazing. I recommend ANY of the pastas. Oh yum.
3) Passionfish - We tried this place for the first time on our honeymoon, and it was delicious. The menu changes since the food is local and seasonal, but everything we had when we went was so good! And the atmosphere is relaxed without being casual, which is perfect for a fancy date night out.
Photo Courtesy of Passion Fish
4) Cannery Row Brewing Company - The beer, the snacks, and the kick-back vibe are all reasons to spend a few hours around the fire pits at this place. I highly recommend the Pub Pretzel with whichever style of beer suits your fancy (I'm an amber or belgian lover, myself).
Again, too many places to list! So here are the things you absolutely cannot miss:
1) 17-mile drive - This drive is some of the most beautiful forest, homes, and coastline you can see in California. G and I loved opening all the windows, putting on some music and just driving while we soaked it all in.
2) Spanish Bay - Located on 17-mile drive is The Inn at Spanish Bay. They have amazing golf, but our favorite part was the fire pits. They bring you blankets, you have a waitress, and you can just sit by the fire, sipping a cocktail while watching the sun set over the pacific ocean. Oh, and did I mention there's a bagpipe player who comes by at sundown? It's an experience everyone should have at least once.
3) Monterey Bay Aquarium - I love this aquarium. One of the coolest things about it? It's an open system, which means that the water from the bay is what flows through the tanks! So you get an amazing glimpse into the sea life that is literally just outside.
4) Fisherman's Wharf - It's adorable, the food is delicious, and the shops are silly, quaint, and just plain fun. You owe yourself a wander down this, a bowl of clam chowder, and a bag of salt water taffy.
Anything I missed you think I should try next time? Comment below!!