A Stroll Through Monterey's Cannery Row

California seems to have a knack for transforming old industrial areas along its waterfront into vibrant tourist attractions. The history of these areas, however, is often buried in the rubble of t-shirt shops and chain restaurants, sorely overlooked by the majority of visitors. During a brief stroll through Monterey's Cannery Row, we found its history right on the surface, with even a few additional surprises along the way.

Cannery Row Monterey
One of the old canneries...Also home to some special java...

The name Cannery Row refers to the numerous sardine canneries which were once found along Monterey's waterfront. The more surprising history of the area, comes from its role in American literature. John Steinbeck chronicled the lives of the area's residents during the Great Depression in his novel titled...Cannery Row. This piece of history was unknown to me, mostly because I only complete about 2.4 books per decade, so I tucked away this nugget of useless information for use at a time in the future when I need to sound smart.
Cannery Row Monterey
Tribute to John Steinbeck on the promenade.

It is safe to say that Cannery Row looks far different today than it did during Steinbeck's time. The last of the sardine canneries closed nearly four decades ago, but many of the buildings have since been restored, turning the area into a popular destination for tourists to part with their cash.
Cannery Row Monterey
Cannery Row

Before setting off to explore, we popped into Cannery Row Brewing Company for a quick bite to eat. There I indulged in a couple of the 73 beers on tap - no joke - and basked in the glory that was their truffle fries.
Cannery Row Brewing Company
The heavenly truffle fries and MJ's chower

As we walked up Cannery Row, the familiar green logo of Starbucks pulled me in like the Death Star's tractor beam. Inside I found one of the rarest of treats for us Starbucks junkies....the Clover machine. I learned about the Clover in the biography of Howard Schultz - one of the 2.4 I read this decade - but had yet to experience the magic it is said to brew. Call it a hunch, but I got the feeling from the barrista that she hadn't encountered someone so excited to watch her make an iced coffee.
Cannery Row Monterey
One happy Starbucks junkie

Continuing our stroll we poked our head into a few of the souvenir shops, where I failed to convince MJ to let me buy a shirt which read "Nice Cans." She did approve a purchase of more Pebble Beach gear from their shop on the Row, which seemed like a fair enough compromise. Marriage...
Cannery Row Monterey
Mine! Mine!

Eventually we came upon the most famous landmark of Cannery Row...the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Since opening in the early 1980's, the aquarium has been one of the most highly regarded in the country, and occupies the building which once housed the last sardine cannery to close on the row. Sadly, they were already closed for the day, but after a few visits to the Georgia Aquarium, I'm pretty sure I got the gist.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
No caption needed

We killed a few minutes on the deck outside the aquarium, watching sea otters feed on kelp, and enjoying the last rays of sunlight. As I took in the surroundings, it was difficult to imagine that such beautiful property was once used to can sardines....
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The deck outside the aquarium

Bringing our stroll to a close, we crossed over into the town of Pacific Grove, which apparently is also known as "Butterfly Town U.S.A." That piece of useless information didn't make the cut for permanent storage... There's only so many safe deposit boxes in the Grigott's Vault upstairs.
Pacific Grove California
Who knew?

What did make it's way into the vault was the spectacular sunset looking out on Lover's Point. While the canneries are long gone and replaced with a borderline tourist trap, looking upon this scene it was easy to understand why John Steinbeck was inspired by Cannery Row. A truly perfect end to our visit to Monterey...
Lovers Point Monterey
Lover's Point
If You Go...
  • Don't skip the Aquarium
  • Cheap parking available off David Ave ($5)
  • Say hello to the Clover machine for me
Enjoy Your Stay