A Slice of...Monterey, CA!

Hi there!  My name is Kristin, I’m 26, and I teach middle school English.  I have a blog, but don’t update it very regularly.  I am so excited to share my home with all of you!  I’ve lived in Monterey for about 8 years.  I moved to Monterey from Victorville, CA (the desert…yuck) to go to college and haven’t looked back since!  I grew up with nothing but brown all around me (tumbleweeds, rocks, plants, DIRT), and to move to an area so lush and filled with color is still such an amazing thing.  When I drive down the freeway, I still have a hard time staying in my lane because I’m too busy staring at the ocean!  Monterey is a small city (just over 30,000 people) and the locals are super friendly and laid back.  I think my favorite thing about Monterey in general is that there are so many locally owned businesses.  It doesn’t feel too commercial, and the tallest building is a hotel downtown.  I absolutely hate it when a city is covered in chain stores and restaurants.  Join me in my journey through my five favorite things in Monterey (in no particular order)!

5.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium/Cannery Row

Duh!  Of course this was going to be on the list!  People come from miles and miles around just to visit the aquarium.  It’s such a cool place and is the only aquarium to have had great white sharks in captivity for any great length of time.  They never make it past a few months before they have to release them, but it’s cool to see them while they’re there.  The MBA places a huge emphasis on sustainability and is one of the only aquariums to have real kelp and to pump in water from the ocean for their exhibits.  They have these things called “Seafood Watch” cards that let you know which types of fish/seafood are okay to eat, and which you shouldn’t eat because they are either overfished or not farmed in a sea-life friendly way.  You can also get a Seafood Watch app for your iphone! Even if the aquarium wasn’t that cool and didn’t have all of the aforementioned, I’d go just to watch the otters!
Besides the fact that it’s just cool enough that I live in Steinbeck Country, Cannery Row is a really neat spot to see the ocean and shop/eat at some great local spots.  Or, you can rent a bike and hop onto the rec trail!

4. The Beaches

Duh (again)!  Monterey is nothing if not known for being by the ocean.  And I’m talking clean beaches.  I grew up in southern California and so many of those beaches are over-populated and covered in trash.  It grosses me out that sometimes you have to walk a few hundred yards down a pier before the ocean water looks blue.  Not here.  It’s absolutely gorgeous.

3. The Recreation Trail

Honestly one of my most favorite things about this place is the rec trail that spans dozens of miles.  I actually technically live above the city of Monterey, in a smaller city called Marina and I could conceivably take the rec trail from my house past Monterey, into Pacific Grove.  On any given day, you’ll see walkers, bikers, runners, roller-bladers, and, if you’re lucky, a derby girl or two!  I didn’t really take advantage of this wonderful amenity until about six months ago, but now you’ll see me skating down the bike path at least once a week (and usually about 5 times a week during the summer)!

2. Farmer’s Market

We have an amazing farmer’s market.  They shut down Alvarado Street (the main street that runs downtown) and turn it into the farmer’s market every Tuesday (rain or shine)!  You can find anything from handmade clothes and crafts, to scrumptious desserts, to vendor booths of some of the favorite local restaurants, to local, fresh, organic produce (we are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Nation’s Salad Bowl—Salinas, Ca).  Another great thing about Monterey (this has really nothing to do with farmer’s market, but I wanted to sneak it in) is that pretty much all of our locally owned restaurants use local produce. I love it.
1. Scribble Hill (aka Message Mountain)

My favorite Monterey quirk would have to be what we’ve deemed “Scribble Hill.”  There is a giant sand dune right off of a freeway exit that is covered in ice plant (well, pretty much everything here is covered in ice plant.  It’s an invasive species) and people climb the massive sand dune, and write messages, moving the ice plant to make letters.  It changes almost every day.  You’ll see anything from birthday wishes, to football game scores (Seaside High School is just down the street), to marriage proposals, to random inappropriate words.  It’s probably the highlight of any of my drives.  I can’t wait to see what it will say next.

I hope I've given you a good insight to my little city by the sea.  Perhaps you'll even visit some day!