A Beautiful Walk in Pacific Grove and Monterey

categories: USA Travel

Monterey Peninsula is one of my favorite places on the planet, a favorite place for us to take visitors and a place where we have been known to look at open houses with the thought of moving there. While the area is famous for the beautiful 17 Mile Drive toll road, one of our favorite spots is just as pretty and is completely free.

Pacific Grove's Lover's Point

Pacific Grove’s Lover’s Point

On the coastline of Pacific Grove there is a park called Lover’s Point. It is a place where you will see surfers and wedding parties, kayakers and kids. Park your car here. You can park for 2 hours in the parking lot, but you are going to want more time so get about a block or so away where the parking is not limited.

Tourists have been coming to Lover’s Point for a many years. There used to be  glass bottom boat rides from the small dock here, back when bathing suits covered your knees and elbows. These days you can rent a kayak and paddle in protected waters between here and Cannery Row or you can sit on the rocks and watch the surfers (always in wetsuits in the cold waters of the Monterey Bay) catch a wave along the length of the peninsula. This is one of the few surfing spots in this end of the Bay. Most of the big wave action is further North in Santa Cruz.

Pacific Grove path

When I was a kid, there were old railroad tracks that led from here towards Monterey but those tracks have been replaced with a biking and cycling path that heads towards Canary Row and the Monterey Wharf. From the Monterey Wharf end you can rent a bike or a 4 wheeled deal surrey to enjoy this path, but I am going to recommend you walk this path and start at the Pacific Grove end. You want to walk because if you go too fast you will miss some things.

Otters and Seals

Otters

Two weekends ago when we walked this route we saw at least 6 different sea otters in the spot between Lover’s Point and the Hopkins Marine Station. Bring your binoculars or a good telephoto lens. It takes a bit of looking to spot an otter. You and your companions may debate at first if that is a bobbing head of an otter or part of the kelp bed. But when the otters come up close you can seem them as they swim on their back and break different shells open on a rock on they chest. They were once endangered because people hunted them for their pelts, people who were clearly oblivious to their cuteness.

Harbor Seals

While their is no guarantee you will see an otter, the beach by the Hopkins Marine Station is usually covered in harbor seals. They might look like rocks at first with their camouflage coloring and lazy basking in the sun, but there are usually a couple young ones swimming in or out. This trip we ran into volunteers who had a telescope setup so that you could spot a brand new seal pup and her mom on the beach.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Cannery Row

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at Canary Wharf. This area that used to be filled with sardine factories that canned fish is now filled with one great place to sea them and quite a few restaurants where you can taste them. The Aquarium gets quite busy in the Summer so you should have a ticket ahead of time. Many local hotels can offer you a package with your room. My favorite exhibits at the aquarium are the large kelp forest tank, the otters (get there early for the scheduled feeding) and the jelly fish. It is easy to spend half a day at the aquarium.

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf

If you don’t stop at the Aquarium you can continue to walk through Cannery Row and join the path again as it heads to Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Here you can schedule a deep sea fishing trip or a whale watching trip. Look for the whiteboards that say how many whales they have seen on recent sailings. You can also pick up a walk away shrimp cocktail or stop at one of the restaurants with all day happy hours for a beer or margarita. The total distance from Lover’s Point to FIsherman’s wharf is 2.5 miles. Usually you will hear the California Sea Lions announcing their presence at either the Coast Guard peir or at Fisherman’s Wharf although for some reason they were not there two weekends ago, to our surprise. There are a number of restaurants on the wharf but I am going to recommend you wait and return to Lover’s Point for dinner.

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

Beach House

My new favorite restaurant with the best view in the area is the Beach House back at Lover’s Point. We were treated to a meal there last weekend as part of our stay in nearby Carmel at the Hofsas House. The Beach House is located in the middle of Lover’s Point where the old Bath House used to be. It is located on the second floor with large windows and patio with stunning views of the shore. Even if the food were only OK, it would be easy to recommend the Bath House for its view alone.

Beach House at Lover's Point

But fortunately, since you have been working up an appetite, the food is much better than OK. My wife and I started with a rather spicy field greens salad.

Salad at the Beach House at Lover's Point

She ordered a pesto chicken pasta and I ordered what not one but two servers told me was their favorite dish, the beef stroganoff. Both meals were excellent.

Pesto Pasta at the Beach House at Lover's Point

Stroganoff at the Beach House at Lover's Point

I ended my meal with a small key lime pie flavored tart and my wife with the chocolate. If you had asked me I would have assumed the prices would have been 50% higher because of the location… but don’t tell them I said that.

Dessert at the Beach House at Lover's Point

Get there before dark, preferably around sunset. As with any place on the central coast, if you sit out on the patio you will want a sweatshirt. I grew up in the area but even I own a jacket that I bought at Fisherman’s Wharf because I forgot how cool the coast can be when it is a hot day in the interior.

If you have not fallen in love with this spot on the central coast then clearly, you haven’t been here yet.

A Beautiful Walk in Pacific Grove and Monterey

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

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