California is a confusing place to me. The light is piercing white or amber gold and the landscape is both lush and rugged (at least in Central California, Brent’s old stomping grounds).


Monterey, though, well, Monterey does not confuse me. This is a seaside town built around a bay teeming with sea otters, seals, and the occasional pod of whales. It is sweet, but not too sweet; tidy and cute but still a little wild and untamed.



Here are our top picks for a day in Monterey: 


Monterey Bay Aquarium — This isn’t your third-grade-field-trip aquarium. This is a state-of-the-art museum of the sea, with beautiful big windows and exhibits. The last time we visited, we took my parents. Everyone else was taking their kids, hah!

PRO TIP: Go as soon as it opens, it is the most peaceful part of the day and you can catch all the morning feedings. THEY ARE WORTH IT. Also the observation deck outside has fantastic viewing.


Alvarado Street Brewery — Things to like about this brewery: A) Good selection of home-brewed beers, B) Good selection extending even to their patio, which is beautiful during the day, but gorgeous when the sun sets.

PRO TIP: Get a flight to sample and hang out in the patio, where they have a different, but still tasty, menu.


Revival Ice Cream. Brent might have been skeptical of this artisanal ice cream place right up until he tried their signature flavor, the Bee’s Knees. Burnt honey, beeswax and bee pollen, custard, and honeycomb candy? Yes please. Highly recommend.


Pacific Grove — This is the less touristy town right next to Monterey. Should you walk down Cannery Row? Or along the wharf? Absolutely. But if you’re feeling less touristy, head to Lighthouse Avenue (there are three bookshops in a 4 block radius) and window shop. Or if you want to stay overnight in the area, look for a bed and breakfast here..

PRO TIP: Eat brunch at the Red House Cafe. Or at the very least get one of their cookies. They are incredible.

East coast girl squinting in the California Sun