1. Best walk -Â Monterey Bay Coastal Trail
Bike or walk the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail from Fisherman’s Wharf to Lover’s Point. The Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Trail is around 29 miles long stretching from Castroville to Pebble beach but the best stretch is along the bay near Cannery Row. This stretch is flat and only 2.3 miles long so it can make a great short ride or a long walk. The people-watching is good and so is the scenery.
2. Best street food – Walk-away shrimp cocktail from Fisherman’s wharf
Popular with tourists and locals alike, nothing beats shrimp with a spicy cocktail sauce as you walk through the restaurants, fishing trips, and tacky tourist shops. Now some will argue for the clam chowder instead. Feel free to substitute the chowder if your tastes lean in that direction.
3. Best souvenir – fleece-lined squall jacket
Inevitably it seems when I visit Fisherman’s wharf one of the shops will be having a closeout sale on a fleece-lined squall jacket with a hood for $20 that is embroidered with Monterey. I have that jacket and my wife has its twin from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Many tourists come to Northern California thinking that California is one long beach with surfers and instead find a foggy Summer day. I suspect they sell a lot of jackets.
4. Best Place to stay – A Victorian Inn in Pacific Grove.
Pacific Grove, which is adjacent to Monterey, has more Victorian houses per capita than any city in the United States according to the locals. Several of these have been turned into inns. The places I want to stay are the Seven Gables Inn or Green Gables Inn which are along the shore in Pacific Grove but I usually opt for the lovely but less expensive Centrella Inn which is closer to downtown. The Centrella is also near my favorite restaurant which is Peppers Mexicali Cafe.
5. Best hike – Point Lobos
An argument can be made for Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is further down the coast and a great day trip from the Monterey Peninsula, but I would opt for Point Lobos State Park which is just on the far side of Carmel from Monterey. The story is told locally that when Robert Louis Stevenson wrote treasure island he took a map of this point, cut it off from the mainland in his imagination and filled it with pirates instead of whalers. You do need to get there early in the day as the small parking lots in the park can fill up.
6. Best BreakfastÂ – First Awakenings in Pacific Grove
First Awakenings doesn’t have a great view. It is in the back of the American Tin Cannery Outlet Mall near the Aquarium, but it does always have a line because the food is good, the service is pleasant and the price is reasonable.
7. Best Activity (I have yet to try) – Sea Kayaking
I have been sea kayaking in CuraÃ§ao but not in my own backyard at Monterey. But on a day when the water is calm, it looks wonderful to frolic among the sea birds, sea lions, and even the occasional otter.