West Coast Trip: Monterey

After a visit to see friends and tour San Francisco, Toree and I rented a car and started our way down the California coast. Our next stop was Monterey, which let me tell you is pure magic ya'll. We saw so many wild otters, seals, dolphins, and birds that I thought my heart was going to explode. It's really the kind of place that you need a week to settle in and explore, but we packed as much as we could in the less than 24 hours we spent there. 

I'll actually be returning here later this year with Eric (he's got a business trip in Pebble Beach). If anyone has any recommendations for things I should see that I haven't already, please let me know!

First stop: Fisherman's Wharf. We ditched all the touristy stuff at the front to explore the empty docks.

Toree and I were walking down many piers to try and get closer to a pack of sea lions on some rocks but with no luck. Suddenly I looked down and saw this guy - such a great surprise to be so close to one!

We will do anything for the perfect animal shot - including climbing off the pier onto a single cement post.

Worth it!

Did I mention we also saw SO MANY SEA OTTERS! Heart eyes for days. I've got another post coming with some closer pictures (and a video!), but loved how this guy was just floating along.

The bay is so stunning, with views of the mountains in the background.

We couldn't go to Monterey without stopping by the aquarium, which is often noted as one of the best. I'll admit I was grumpy about it for awhile after paying the ticket price ($50!!!), but we did get to see some really amazing creatures.

My favorite exhibit by far was the jelly fish. Just look at this! I took no less than a hundred photos in here. Don't worry, I've only included 6 in this post.

Sea lions and pelicans on a rock outside of the aquarium. Definitely going to kayak through the bay the next time I'm out there!

Not a wild otter, this guy lived at the aquarium. Too cute not to share though!

These things always remind me of the Little Mermaid.

Aren't these views to die for? Most of my pictures didn't capture it, but the water is extremely clear. Such a different environment than what I'm used to.

I just want to be that sea gull right now.

Close to the aquarium is Lover's Point Park, where you can climb around and explore the rocks and tide pools jutting into the bay.

Quite possibly one of the most magical things to happen to us on this trip (er...life?), was having this pod of dolphins swim along right next to us while we were climbing the rocks. It's very rare that the dolphins come in so close in the bay, so this was such a treat!

so close!

If you are in the area, the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach is a must. You can go down two routes: one through the neighborhood, or the scenic route along the coast. We of course chose the coast - which has a bunch of tourist stopping points along the way. Stop 1 is at the 7th hole on the Pebble Beach golf course - which if you've ever seen the tournament on tv you'll know is right on the ocean! So cool, and almost makes me want to take up golf...almost.

Stop 2 was Sea Lion Rock. You can't tell from this picture, but that rock is covered in them!

The Monterey Cypress is native to only two areas - one of them being the 17 mile drive. So cool to be able to see these amazing trees.

Another highlight was seeing this icon - the Lone Cypress, which is about 250 years old. So gorgeous!

Toree and I weren't going to leave California without staying in a yurt (a structure similar to a teepee). We didn't book in time to grab something at the popular Tree Bones resort in Big Sur, but we found one in a Russian couple's backyard in Carmel Valley so we went for it - ha! Carmel Valley is an adorable small town about 20 minutes inland from Monterey. Most of California was under the threat of wildfires while we were traveling, and everyone in the town had a homemade sign in their yard thanking the firefighters for their hard work - it made me teary eyed!

The inside of our yurt - we were definitely glamping. I only wish we had more time to stay on the property and explore the area for longer! Till next time Monterey.

Want to see everywhere we visited on this road trip? Check out my previous posts below: