DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Can You Say Ghiradelli?

Bill enjoying a Cannery favorite in Monterrey.
Bill enjoying a Cannery favorite in Monterrey.

Winning and Losing In Monterey’s Cannery Row Restaurants

One of the best things about Cannery Row might just be the food. With twenty-five dining possibilities to choose from, we still struck out – but dessert was delightful!

The Desperation Dilemma

We made a mistake.  You shouldn’t wait until you’re starving to pick a place to eat and you certainly shouldn’t make that decision while staring into a Ghiradelli Ice Cream Shop.

We’d stayed too long in the Turkish Bazaar.  We wanted a Ghiradelli chocolate shake.  We needed to have lunch – but we couldn’t drag ourselves very far from the ice cream shop.

Louie Linguini’s  

Yes, we should have eaten seafood. We realized that while we were trying to make up our mind.  We even walked over to The Fish Hopper, but it was crowded and loud – and there was a wait.  We settled for Louie Linguini’s.

You know me.  I can usually find something good about every place we go.  Sometimes that’s just not possible.  I confess, we went because the price seemed reasonable, there was no waiting list and Ghiradelli was downstairs.  Our first clue should have been the lack of a waiting list.  People were hanging off the rafters a few feet away at The Fish Hopper.  Maybe we thought Louie’s was a rare hidden gem or an undiscovered treasure.  It wasn’t.  The view was good, but the ambiance was wasn’t.  The price would have been reasonable if the food had been better, but it wasn’t.  And the service…or should I say, “What service?”

Drowning Our Disappointment in Chocolate

We love Ghiradelli.  We love Monterey Bay.  We love Cannery Row.  Therefore, enjoying a chocolate shake on the Cannery Row Ghiradelli Ice Cream Shop  Patio, overlooking Monterey Bay, was like heaven squared.  Bill’s happy face in the picture above tells the whole story.

We had one of those vacation moments.  You know – where all the hassles of travel melt away and you think, “This is worth the effort.”  The day had been a little chilly and grey, but the sun came out long enough for us to enjoy our shake.  Someone selling CD’s filled the air with Mayan native flute music.  Every where we looked were examples of the local flora and fauna.  People were laughing and kids were playing chase.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Heading on Down the Highway

As much fun as we were having, we needed to get on down the road.   We’d already paid for our room on Moonstone Beach and we were at least three hours away.  So, we walked back to our car and headed south on Highway One, driving right past Carmel, another favorite of ours on Highway One.  There’s never enough time to do everything that you want.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you about some things we did make time for.


Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Cannery Row on Monterey Bay CA

Shopping Cannery Row,Monterey Bay, Monterey CA
This almost came home with us from Monterey Bay


Monterey Bay is one of my favorite destinations and Cannery Row is one of the reasons.  Whatever you like to do, you’ll find ways to entertain yourself.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you’ve never been to Cannery Row, then the Aquarium should be at the top of your list.  We’ve been many times, but on this visit to the area, we were short on time.  Still, you should go, because but kids of all ages (including Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation) will be fascinated by the amazing exhibits, including the one of a kind otter tank.

The John Steinbeck Factor

Had John Steinbeck never lived in Monterey, it would still be a beautiful place to visit.  However, his novel Cannery Row, added to the area’s mystique and helped make it the destination it is today.  To completely appreciate the Steinbeck factor, it’s well worth the drive over to Salinas for a visit to the National Steinbeck Center – especially since it’s not far away.  In fact, here’s an itinerary you might enjoy for a three-day Steinbeck Immersion  Weekend.

Shopping Cannery Row

Two words:  Outlet Mall.  I love them and Cannery Row has one.  It’s called American Tin Cannery and it’s across the street from the Aquarium.  But that’s only the beginning.  The whole area if rife with shopping opportunities.  Truth be told, a lot of these opportunities are just tourist traps filled with junk.

Two shops,  Turkish Fine Jewelry and Fine Art Turkish Grand Bazaar, were new to us and they were also exceptions to the tourist trap trend.  I know, the names of the shops are less than creative, but OMG what gorgeous things they have inside.  I’d give you a link, but they don’t have websites!  And I’ll tell you this too: Don’t judge the places by their exteriors.  Without Bill I wouldn’t have walked into either one and that would have been my loss.

We stepped into the jewelry store first.  The pieces in the window were out-of-this-world gorgeous.  GORGEOUS!  Not your usual stuff.  Exotic, but not so weird you wouldn’t wear it.  Frankly, I wanted one of everything I saw in the window, but I knew I couldn’t afford any of them.  I was glad Bill wanted to see more, even though we weren’t going to buy anything.  The decor of the store is pretty boring compared to what’s in the showcases.  What I’m saying is that this is not one of your premiere shopping experiences, but if you’re looking for beautiful jewelry, it’s the right place.

Along one wall they display hand-crafted mosaic chandeliers – jewelry for your home.  I’m sure the proprietor could tell we weren’t serious jewelry prospects, but he quickly picked up on the fact that we might buy a chandelier.  He and Bill chatted for a bit.  That’s how we found out about the Grand Bazaar across the street.  It’s owned by the same people.

Loved this too!
Loved this too!

As I said, the jewelry store was not exactly a premiere shopping destination, but the bazaar looked like a place I would avoid altogether.  The front of the store was crowded with cheap imported knick-knacks, but they did have dozens of the beautiful mosaic chandeliers, so in we went.  Ignore the chotckies!  This place is a treasure trove.  Stunning pottery, unique clothing, hand-embroidered boots!!  I loved it.  Bill got me in there and without his restraining influence I would have broken the bank.

In the end we left empty-handed.  Bill couldn’t negotiate the owner down far enough on the chandeliers to justify carrying them all the way back to Dallas and I really didn’t need another pair of boots.  But my-oh-my, did I ever want a pair, and about four of the outfits, and several of the plates, and some jewelry, and…well, you get the drift.

(Psssst!  Dallasites!  Since this trip Bill and I discovered Another Place & Time at The Shops at Legacy in Plano.  They don’t much of a website either, but they do have a facebook page and they do have the same kind of gorgeous stuff the Monterey store has, though they’re in no way related.  The store has been in the mall for a while now, but it didn’t used to have all this cool stuff.  They also just moved off Bishop, but I promise, it will be worth the effort to find them.)

Did Someone Say Lunch?

It’s amazing how long we lingered in the store admiring the chandeliers, but eventually hunger pangs overwhelmed our urge to buy.  I’ll tell you about that next week.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Where to Stay on Monterey Bay

Beachside in Cali
Beachside in Cali


Did you miss me?  Yes, I know I said I’d be back in a week, but for the last month or so, life has been interesting.  I’ll save the details for another post.  Now let’s hit the road!  The Pacific Coast Highway to be exact.

Heavenly Highway One

This Texas girl wasn’t crazy about life in California.  During the six years I lived there, all I wanted to do was move back to Dallas.  Now that I hang my hat in the Lone Star State, I do love visiting my old West Coast stomping grounds.  Even though I didn’t love living there, I appreciate the scenery – especially on Highway One.

Every mile of the PCH is remarkable, but some miles are more remarkable than others.  My favorite bit hugs Monterey Bay.  When I lived on the Central Coast we would frequently drive the shorter inland route to Monterey and then return via the glorious Pacific Coast Highway.  If we had to, we could make it home in time for bed – but we didn’t always hurry home.

Rooms By The Beach

One of our favorite places to stay back in the day was the Marina Dunes Resort.  The resort has changed hands and is now called Sanctuary Beach Resort.  The reviews suggest that it’s even better than it used to be.  So, if you’re inspired to visit Highway One, Sanctuary Beach Resort would be a good place to start.

We love it because it’s very different from your usual hotel experience.  When you check in, you’re assigned your own golf cart.  You see, cars aren’t allowed down by the sandy beach where the rooms are.  I have fond memories of those golf carts.   On bright sunny days they’re a blessing, but they can also be a curse.

One night we arrived quite late and it was cold, rainy and windy.  Thankfully we found the logistics of it all hysterical.  We were drenched as we loaded the luggage from the car into the golf cart.  Then we maneuvered the less than powerful cart through the thick darkness, because lights are frowned upon down at the beach, also.  Had it been our first visit, we might have given up and moved to the Holiday Inn, but we knew what was waiting for us.

The rooms at the resort are elegant and comfortable – fireplaces, french doors to the beach and luxurious linens.  One of those places where you’re tempted to just live in your room.  On the cold, rainy, windy night we were also hungry and the weather discouraged going very far.  So, we decided to eat at the hotel’s restaurant, which was all the way back up the hill near registration.

The golf cart almost didn’t make it.  It was going so slow that Bill actually got out and pushed, while I kept my foot on the gas and steered.  The hotel was all apologies when we finally got to registration and assigned us a new cart.  That might have been the same stay where we woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a beach creature wandering around in our dresser.

If we still love the place, in spite of the faulty golf cart and the midnight invader, you can imagine how wonderful the place is.  We’ve also stayed at the Holiday Inn in Seaside, just a few miles from the Sanctuary Beach Resort.  The budget accommodations reminded us that you really do get what you pay for.

More Rooms By The Beach

This trip we didn’t stay in Marina or Seaside, because it was too early in the day and we were on a tight schedule – not so tight we couldn’t drop by Cannery Row.  We love Cannery Row.  Author John Steinbeck made it famous, but I doubt he’d recognize it today.  The sardine canning facilities have been “re-purposed” and the whole area has been “re-vitalized”.  I’m not sure that re-vitalized is the correct term.  Maybe “tourist-ized” would be a better one.  Still, we enjoy spending time there.

Our first stop was the grand old Monterey Plaza Hotel.  We love this place and we refer people to it all the time. Funny thing is, we never stayed there.    We fell in love with the resort in Marina and made it “our” place, but we’ve always promised ourselves that we’re going to correct the oversight.

Monterey Plaza Hotel is right on the bay, but it’s beach is rocky rather than sandy.  Of the two resorts, I’d say MPH has the more dramatic views.  The rooms aren’t on the beach, they are overlooking the ocean.  It’s also a part of Cannery Row, more congested and busy than Marina.  Though both hotels give you a great peek at nature, MPH has a lot more wildlife and nightlife.  I don’t say any of that to criticize MPH, it’s a great hotel.  I’m just trying to give you a feel for the differences.

Here’s my confession – the main reason we dropped into the MPH was to use the restroom.  In fact, that’s the only thing we ever do at MPH.  We park near by, stroll the the hotel and hang out on the balcony, but so far we’ve never so much as ordered a drink in the bar.  Still, we’ve sent them so much business that we don’t even feel guilty.

You Can’t Lose

The bottom line is that you should go visit Monterey and both of these places are wonderful.  In fact, you should go and stay at both and then tell me which one you liked best.

After our MPH potty stop we did spend a few hours hanging out on Cannery Row.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about it.  I promise – my sabbatical is over and I will be here next week.