I like San Jose, but every time I’m here I’m so buried in work I never have a chance to take in much of the surrounding area. During one of these meetings, the person next to me was talking about Monterey, a smaller city about 50 miles away. I had never been there, but made a mental note that I should go see it sometime. I was surprised when that exact opportunity presented itself. My meeting the next day was canceled, and my company gave me the choice of flying home later that night or just using my original plane ticket. The only “catch” was that I’d need to find my own Monterey hotel. I wondered about that, as finding hotels online can take a lot of time and require a lot of entering information.
I opened the HotelTonight app and realized that Monterey hotels were aplenty here. They were also extremely desirable. Perhaps best of all, they were a mere few taps on my phone away from booking. I made my choice and within a couple of minutes I was all set. I extended my rental car agreement and hit the road. When I got to my hotel, I encountered an extremely friendly and helpful staff. I asked one of them what one would do if he were going to spend a day in Monterey as a local. That’s how I like to travel – I want to see what it’s like to live in a place. I got some useful information and I was off and running.
Monterey is not a big city, as it has a population of approximately 30,000 people. That said, it’s a city that feels like there is a lot going on. There is a heavy military presence here and a lot of people grew up somewhere else. That makes it easy to fit in, and the downtown area is definitely set up to accommodate people who are not from around here. The streets are logical and there are all sorts of shops and places to eat. The city had a very interesting and friendly vibe.
Most people would state that Old Town Monterey is downtown Monterey, but there are some differences even though they are almost in the same location. The buildings in this small part of town are obviously generations old, and the people seem to espouse those old values of hospitality and warmth. I walked around for a bit and then decided to grab a coffee from a local café. It was hot, flavorful and of course delicious. It was just what I needed to continue with my journey through this fascinating place.
Cannery Row may be a throwback to a bygone era to a large extent, but it still sits in a part of the city that’s generally referred to as New Monterey. Given its proximity to Monterey Bay, it should come as no surprise that this is an area where fish were canned in high volumes. Some of these canneries still operate, but it’s no longer the industrial area it used to be. Instead, there are some modern touches along with some living areas. What Cannery Row has is restaurants, and that’s good because I was starving. I decided on – shockingly – seafood. It was a good choice, as the meal was superb. I was ready to continue with my journey.
I decided to venture a bit outside of Monterey to check out a couple of smaller communities. I stopped in Seaside, which used to be a part of Monterey but now is its own city. It was a tourist destination, but then it became home to a lot of military. These days, you can see all of that history as you walk around town, but there are now modern touches and options for people. This is also an area where a lot of folks seem to live, as I saw people of all ages running around and basically doing what looked like routine things.
Pacific Grove is a city of about 15,000 people, and it’s not one that a lot of people who live somewhere else have heard of. That’s too bad, as there is a lot happening here. I strolled down Asilomar State Beach and enjoyed the sights and smells of the sand and water. I checked out the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, known as the Point Pinos Lighthouse. I realized at that point that I was hungry again. I decided to stick with the theme of the day and have some more seafood. I think I could live off of the seafood that’s served in this area of the country for decades.
Full, happy and a bit weary in a good way from all of the walking and fresh sea air I had been inhaling, I headed back to my hotel. I got excited about where I was staying for the first time as I was on my way, as I really hadn’t had time to think about that yet with all that was going on. I guess that’s one of the benefits of HotelTonight – I found a perfect Monterey hotel within minutes, booked it, unloaded my bag and I was off to enjoy the area. I didn’t spend any time worrying about all of the choices for Monterey hotels. I let HotelTonight guide me to the right place and that was that. What a great day all around.