In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck immortalized Monterey as a gritty, hard-working town driven by industry and commercial fishing. Nearly 70 years later, this city on the bay has transformed into more than just a fisherman’s city. In fact, you’ll find all types of culture and education – literary or not – throughout this city less travelled.

Monterey Cannery Row
Monterey Cannery Row

Whether you’re looking for some of the best places to stay or just need a coastal getaway for the weekend, you’ll find it in Monterey. While not nearly as famous as some of its neighbouring cities in California, Monterey is a hidden gem that, once you’ve visited, you’ll never forget. Before you start making plans for the West Coast, here are a couple of great reasons you should consider a trip to the lesser-known bay.
Monterey’s Cannery Row: A Historic Landmark
Many of us have read the Steinbeck classic about the hard life many endured in Monterey during the Great Depression. People living there today still haven’t forgotten about it – in fact, they embrace their deep history with the preservation and restoration of the great Cannery Row.
One of California’s more renowned destinations, Cannery Row runs right against the Pacific Ocean with spanning views into Monterey Bay. But the real treat here are the preserves canneries that still occupy this street. Though they are now shops and museums, you’ll still be able to appreciate their original function as you walk down this great American street.
The gem of Cannery Row lies at the end of the street, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Center. Founded in 1984 in a former sardine cannery, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has turned into one of the premier research facilities in the United States for oceanic life. Their mission doesn’t just end at taking care of sea animals. One well-known initiative is the “Seafood Watch” program, which helps consumers make educated decisions about environmentally stable seafood.
Follow Steinbeck’s Path to Monterey
Monterey County isn’t just known for expansive beaches and ocean views. This historical destination has been widely documented for its contributions to California’s growth in the 20th century.
Just a short drive inland from Monterey is Salinas, home of the John Steinbeck Museum and Home. Here, you’ll be able to learn all about Steinbeck’s contributions in documenting California’s role in the Great Depression. Heading north from Salinas, you’ll be able to catch Highway One, hailed as one of the most scenic drives in the world. Hugging the California coastline between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Highway One offers beautiful views of the ocean, perched along winding cliffs.
Monterey is also known for the attention to detail in the architecture as well. Those who love the coastline and history should check out Asilomar Conference Grounds, home to Proposal Beach. The grounds and boardwalk, designed by Julia Morgan (the same architect behind Hearst Castle), offers a classic look at California from a simpler time.
Compared to its counterparts, Monterey is one of California’s cities less traveled – but well worth the adventure! Have you been to Monterey? What are your can’t miss attractions? Let me know in the comments below.
About the Author: Joe Cortez is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer who spends his time chasing the travel bug across North America and Europe. Based in Ohio, Joe writes for a number of respected publications and website, including Hipmunk.