Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean located on the coast of
California, south of the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose.
Monterey Bay is home to many species of marine mammals, including sea
otters, harbor seals, and bottlenose dolphins; as well as being on the migratory
path of Gray and Humpback Whales and a breeding site for elephant seals.
Our original weekend travel plan was to drive down to southern California for an
airshow at the March Air Reserve Base
and to see the wild flowers in the
However, this was not a good year for wild flowers (not enough rain in the
winter), and unfortunately there was a tragic accident for USAF Thunderbirds a
few days ago that they lost their Thunderbirds #4 pilot during a training
mission. We decided to do a shorter trip and changed the destination to
Monterey for the weekend escape.
The First Day ...
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium is known for its regional focus on Monterey Bay
and its display of marine life communities. The aquarium was the first
to exhibit a living kelp forest. Its biologists have pioneered the animal
husbandry of jellyfish and it was the first aquarium to successfully care
for and display a great white shark. Monterey Bay Aquarium opened on
October 20, 1984 as the largest public aquarium in the United States after 7
years of construction and US$54 million donated by David Packard. By
1994, it was the most popular aquarium in the United States by number of
visits, and it has more than 2 million visitors annually now. The
aquarium revitalized Monterey's Cannery Row when it opened in 1984,
following the decline of the sardine canning industry in the United States.
We have been to the aquarium countless times when Linus and Iris were
little kids (we had the aquarium memberships for several years back in
2000's), but we have not visited the aquarium since 2010. I am always
amazed by the marine life and exhibitions here, however, it's a strange
feeling to come back here for just Woanyu and me, and to see so many kids
- Old Fisherman's Wharf
After checked in the hotel in Monterey and had a short break, we went to
the downtown area for an early dinner. Then we took a short walk to
the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Fisherman's Wharf is lined
with seafood restaurants ranging from casual, open-air clam bars, to formal
indoor dining with views of the bay. Along with Cannery Row, Fisherman's
Wharf is one of the few areas in Monterey that sells souvenirs for tourists,
so the restaurants are interspersed with gift shops, jewelry stores, art
galleries, and candy shops.
The Second Day ...
- Elkhorn Slough Reserve
The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 28 National
Estuarine Research Reserves established nationwide as field laboratories for
scientific research and estuarine education. There are miles of trails that
meander through beautiful oak woodlands, calm tidal creeks, and freshwater
marshes. We took the Fiver Fingers Loop trail (1.1 miles) which has a
wildlife blind offering views
hanging over the mudflats.
- Elkhorn Slough Safari
I was originally planning to take a whale watching boat trip, but Woanyu
was worry about the sea sickness. I found this Elkhorn Slough Safari
as a good compromise: a smooth boat ride in the Elkhorn Slough
wetlands providing unique opportunities for wildlife viewing (sea otters,
harbor seals, sea lions, and various bird species, etc.).
We arrived at
Moss Landing before noon and had a nice lunch (well, seafood...) at a very
popular local restaurant
Phil's Fish Market (when we finished and were ready to leave, the line
was so long and already extended outside the restaurant to the parking lot).
The boat tour started at 1:30PM and last for almost 2 hours winding through
the wetlands with close encounters of wildlife (especially for many sea
Going Home ...
Without any time pressure and advance planning, this spontaneous short
weekend trip to Monterey was a nice escape to enjoy some familiar places (like
the Monterey Bay Aquarium) and new exploration (like Elkhorn Slough and Moss
Landing area) in the Bay Area.
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