Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row

Famished after our seaside drive, we made a beeline for a waterfront restaurant when we arrived at Monterey's famed Cannery Row.  The seaside eateries charge more, but for the added expense you get an amazing show:  Sea Otters, my favorite animal!  Here's a video I took of a sea otter eating his lunch while we enjoyed some excellent clam chowder and local seafood.

At first glance, Cannery Row, made famous by Monterery's own John Steinbeck, is little like the cannery row of which he wrote.  Walking up I noticed Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant, the Intercontinental Hotel, and a massively modern Aquarium.   In his depression era novel, he described the area as a place made up of "junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses." Not quite what I was seeing, but perhaps, if I squinted...  Regardless, we loved the sights and smells of this quintessential American town.

As a family, we have visited the aquariums of Atlanta, New Orleans, and Chattanooga.  The Monterey Aquarium out shined them all.  Our first stop was the jellyfish room.  Watching their hypnotic dance, I felt my blood pressure lower by ten points.  I immediately decided to add a jellyfish relaxation room to my dream home.

Wandering in a trance-like state, Greg and I watched the kids as they enjoyed the water mammal interactive area.  Our kids, like most, gravitate to hands-on activities.  They drew dolphins, climbed on whales and learned how many bottles it would take to feed a baby whale... about 2000 a day!  There were many touch pools throughout the aquarium for the opportunity to feel starfish, crabs, and kelp.

One unique feature of this aquarium are the many inside/outside locations.  It seemed that each room had a door to Monterey Bay or a wall of windows to make you feel like you were seeing these animals in their natural habitats.

After viewing penguins, otters, octopi and an array of fish, we experienced local history in the cannery exhibit in the center of the aquarium.  Modeled after the real Hovdan Cannery, I loved the historic details and again, the hands-on learning experience the exhibit allowed.  Emma and Anabel played along the assembly line, but also stopped to read details about the factory workers and watch video of the history of Cannery Row.

Bottom line?  The Monterey Aquarium is a must see for all!  We stayed until closing time and left wanting more.  I can't say that about many places.

Relaxing around the fireplace back at our hotelwith a nice glass of California zinfandel, Greg and I drew up plans for our jellyfish room in our castle in the sky. California Dreaming...

1 comment:

  1. Love the Jelly fish!!!! So beautiful, but still kinda creepy. Much better than seeing them dead on the beach!


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