We'd been in Monterey before when Marc's brothers came to San Francisco. We took them through Monterey on our way to do the 17-mile Drive. But we didn't really visit either Monterey or Carmel.
We started early and stopped in Santa Cruz for breakfast. Santa Cruz was a little too Myrtle Beach-y for my taste. For those of you west coast readers who don't understand what I mean by "Myrtle Beach-y," just think about a beach town vacation location that used to be nice about 30 years ago and is now a sad, run-down conglomeration of cheap tourist shops, bad restaurants, cheesy boardwalk rides and games, and questionable hotels.
Monterey, however, was thoroughly enjoyable. Just as beautiful as everyone says. I loved Cannery Row. So colorful and interesting.
We wanted to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, because everyone here talks about how great it is and how you just have to go. We were a little skeptical because we'd been to the Atlanta Aquarium (largest in the world) and I've been to the Sydney, Australia Aquarium (formerly the largest/best in the world). Then we walked up and saw that it was $30 per person to go in!
But then as we were standing there complaining to ourselves about how we were about to spend $60 on an aquarium, this lady came up to us and said that she had a 6-person pass and only had five people, so would we like her extra ticket? Yes, please! Then when we went in, we only had to pay the child's price ($17). In all, that lady's kindness saved us $43. Dear lady, if you're out there, thank you.
We enjoyed the aquarium. It wasn't as good as Atlanta or Syndey, but it was a good, solid experience. If you have kids, it's really great. They have lots of interactive activities that weren't too cheesy. The one thing that was a little bit much was the over-emphasis on saving the fishies. I'm trying to "be green" just like the next normal person in California, but the whole place had a suffocating agenda that took some of the education away from the experience because you were so distracted by the environmental activism overkill. (Disclaimer: I'm not against working to make sure that the ecosystems of the Bay Area are preserved. I just don't think it's necessary to make an entire aquarium themed that way.)
Anyway, here are some pictures of the aquarium.