Cannery Row on Monterey Bay is an easy 2-hour drive south of San Francisco. Two good reasons to add Monterey to your northern California holiday are that it is a breathtakingly beautiful part of the Golden State, and it is far less commercial than San Francisco. It’s a great place to enjoy some quality down-time during your vacation.
A brief history of Cannery Row
Oil made whales the Monterey prey of choice for fisherman until Kerosene was introduced in the late 1800s. At that time, the local fishing industry made a quick turn to sardines, and the first cannery opened in 1902 along Ocean View Avenue – now Cannery Row.
From that date until the 1960s the fishermen and businessmen of the “Row” didn’t realize it, but they were systematically fishing themselves into oblivion by overtaxing the schools of mature sardines needed to reproduce and replenish the early abundant harvests.
The last sardine catch and pack on Cannery Row took place in 1964 on the site of the now famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Inspired by John Steinbeck’s celebrated story, Cannery Row is visited annually by scores of vacationers from around the world, and it is well worth a prominent place on your vacation schedule.
It’s fun to share the planet
Cannery Row is not only a tourist’s mecca, it has also become a conservationist’s Disneyland. There’s the spectacular Aquarium, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which can be enjoyed by tour boat, sail boat, kayak, or row boat.
On land, tourists can comb the waterfront, whale watch, otter watch, seal watch, bird watch, and people watch. Cold water SCUBA divers also get to fish watch. There are a whopping 26 species of marine mammals, and 345 species of fish residing in the Monterey Bay Sanctuary.
Also in the area
Golfing and touring at Pebble Beach, Carmel, and Pacific Grove are minutes away,
and the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove is open to the public and is a great place to get a feel for a lighthouse keeper’s life in earlier times.
Point Lobos State Reserve with its fantastic views of the Pacific is also in the neighborhood.
In the area, we also visited the fabulous Holman Ranch and Winery, and *here* is that story.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of great places to stay on and near Cannery Row. We chose the Monterey Bay Inn right on the “Row.” It is the first hotel on the water when driving east.
The Inn’s appeal includes being slightly away from the center of the hub-bub, where most of the tourists congregate. Yet, it is just a short walk to all the interesting shops that line the Row.
The views from the Monterey Bay Inn are impressive – especially if you are lucky enough to reserve an end room with a balcony over the water. We recommend room 320 if it is available. (that’s 320 just under the roof canopy above)
The Inn is adjacent to San Carlos Beach Park, where visitors can picnic and stroll the beach. The park is also an excellent entry point for kayaks and SCUBA divers heading for a swim with the fishes among the ever-swaying orange and brown kelp beds.
Cannery Row eateries
The area is awash in excellent restaurants, but there is one in particular that deserves a feature story, and that is what we plan for the legendary Sardine Factory on Wave Street.
The Sardine Factory is a world-class restaurant that is also an uplifting All-American success story. It’s about two ordinary guys that started with nothing almost 40-years ago, and today are recognized by presidents, the movers and shakers of industry, and scores of celebrities in the restaurant and entertainment world.
It’s also a tale of tradition, values, honesty and integrity – subjects that are too often forgotten in our confused times.
So look for our story about the Sardine Factory in the near future. It is good press that will inspire you – it did us.
The Monterey coast and Cannery Row are California treasures that should be explored and enjoyed by all lovers of the sea, nature, and fine food – definitely worth putting on your getaway list.
© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos © Judy Bayliff
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