California / Chefs of Distinction / Destinations / Food / Hotels & Resorts / United States

Spending Quality Time on Cannery Row in Monterey, California

Cannery Row on Monterey Bay is an easy two-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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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Golfing and touring at Pebble Beach, Carmel, and Pacific Grove are minutes away,

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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.

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Point Lobos State Reserve with its fantastic views of the Pacific is also in the neighborhood.

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In the area, we also visited the fabulous Holman Ranch and Winery, and *here* is that story.

Where to stay

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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.

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The Inn’s appeal includes being slightly away from the center of the hubbub, where most of the tourists congregate. Yet it is just a short walk to all the interesting shops that line the Row.

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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 below the roof canopy in the photo)

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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

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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.

The Sardine Factory is a world-class restaurant that is also a wholesome and uplifting All-American success story. It’s about two ordinary guys who started with nothing almost 40-years ago, and today are recognized by presidents, the movers and shakers of industry and celebrities in the restaurant and entertainment world.

Wayne learns about tomatoes from the expert, Bert Cutino, executive chef and Owner of Sardine Factory

Wayne learns about tomatoes from the expert, Bert Cutino, Executive Chef and owner of Sardine Factory

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.

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The Monterey coast and Cannery Row are California treasures that should be explored and enjoyed by all lovers of the sea, nature, and great food – definitely worth putting on your getaway list.

Happy travels.

© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos © Judy Bayliff

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