After spending a fantastic few hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I walked to Cannery Row.
Cannery Row History
Cannery Row is the ocean front street in downtown Monterey. Jon Steinbeck made this area famous in his novel “Cannery Row”. The Street, at the time Ocean View Avenue, was the heart of Monterey’s sardine canning industry. Steinbeck described it as “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream”. In the 1950’s the industry failed due to unsustainable fishing practices. In 1958, Monterey renamed the street to Cannery Row in honor of Steinbeck’s novel.
As a result, in the time since the collapse of the canning industry, it underwent a transformation. Because of the natural beauty of the area, in the 1960’s restaurants started popping up. Then, hotels and shops aimed at tourists. In 1984, the aquarium opened cementing the Monterey tourist industry. Now, a protected Marine Conservation Area, Cannery Row is the premier tourist destination in the area.
Currently, Cannery Row is a standard tourist area, with one main exception, the breathtaking views. When walking down the street I walked past many restaurants. With restaurants including seafood, Indian, american, and Mexican there is something for everyone. However, being in the center of the major tourist area, you will pay a premium for the location, but if you want to stare out at one of the most beautiful ocean views as you have a nice lunch or dinner there is no better place.
Like any tourist area, there were many tourist targeted activities like a wax museum, mirror maze, antique mall, wine tasting rooms, and little tourist trinket shops. I browsed some of these stores, but did not partake in any of these activities due to my limited time in Monterey. The location gives it a charm that most of these similar areas lack.
What really makes it worth a visit are the views. Having lived on both coasts, I prefer the beaches on the west coast over those on the east. The beaches in Monterey are a perfect example why. As you can see from my pictures of 17-Mile Drive, the beaches are pristine.
As it is the home of the Aquarium, you will almost certainly find yourself on Cannery Row while in Monterey. Cannery Row is the former heart of the sardine industry and is the home of a lot of local history. With lots of restaurants and cute tourist shops Cannery Row is worth a few hours of your time on a trip to Monterey. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to appreciate the beauty of the area.