I was thinking back fondly on our visit to the stunning tidepools outside of Monterey, and it occurred to me that I had a lot more to say about that trip and about paying a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on your next trip to the central coast of California.
For one, where you should eat—which you know is always of chief concern to me. There’s a relatively new restaurant (it opened last year) inside the aquarium called Cindy’s Waterfront. If you’re traveling with kids and you’re absolutely sure that you can’t get them to settle for a sit-down lunch, there’s a new café attached as well; but if you can manage it, be sure and make reservations for window seats at the restaurant. We stopped by the desk first thing when we arrived and put our name in, but just to be safe, call ahead (they’re only open 11-3).
The concept is “well-loved, seasonal Californian comfort food” which, for us, meant clam chowder with sourdough, a shrimp and crab roll (topped with avocado of course), local artichokes, and the like. (Hudson’s comfort food of choice was the less-local buttered pasta with cheese.) But the best part was sitting at a low counter in the back corner of the restaurant with the entire bay, teeming with sea life—you can watch the otters wrapping themselves in kelp beds!—stretched before us. They give you binoculars and identification cards (alongside some crayons and coloring paper, if that’s not your thing) for you to enjoy with your white wine (and milk).
By the way, Aron and I both did Scuba certification dives in that water at different times when we were in college! I’ll never forget: a crowd on the shore told us that a whale calf swam right by when we were doing underwater exercises. We felt its wake but missed it! Visibility was so low that day.
It’s such a nice treat to do something that seems very adult… before you go back to relishing an experience through the eyes of a child.