Last summer, I went with my family down the California coast from San Francisco to Monterey. The trip was a family bonding time as well as an enjoyable way to end the summer.
On the way down the coast, we stopped in Santa Cruz and visited the Beach Boardwalk (http://www.beachboardwalk.com/). The large amusement park, located right along the sunny beach, was filled with color, excitement, and fun. From the roller coasters to the marry-go-round to the indoor video arcade and miniature golf course, there is never a dull moment at the Boardwalk. On every Friday of the summer season, the Boardwalk hosts a free concert on the beach, with groups playing in the late afternoon and into the evening. The glow from the booths and rides lit up the Boardwalk at night, spreading their illumination across the beach and water.
After a day in the sun, heading to the peaceful outskirts of Monterey was a refreshing change. The secluded beach inn was cold, and beautiful in the evening light. The next day, we visited the downtown part of Monterey to see the sights and explore. The town of Monterey is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the touristy yet historic Cannery Row. Spending the day walking around the sights of Cannery Row was an educational and fun experience. The history of the fish canning facilities explains the Chinese fisherman’s need to preserve their catch and the Japanese’s arrival at the already famed “cannery row,” which eventually was taken over by Sicilian immigrants. This is the cannery row in the dramatic writings of John Steinbeck. With the shutdown of sardine facilities on the east coast, the demand for products from Monterey grew until the decline in the sardine population in the 1950’s, when most of the factories were closed.
Cannery row (http://www.canneryrow.com/) is now home to shops, hotels, and restaurants, as well as the historic memories of its past life. These tourist attractions are colorful and crowded in the summer season. The California sun brought warmth to the coast, while the ocean breeze kept the weather beautiful. Shops catering to jewelry, hats, postcards, and many other souvenirs dotted cannery row and the pier. Restaurants and other food stands spread aromas and attracted passer-bys.
At the end of the day, it was pleasant to enjoy a lovely meal at one of the many restaurants along cannery row and see the city at night. Lights drifted across the water and lit the roads, adding beauty to the scene.
Leaving Monterey the next day, we drove back up the coast, stopping in Watsonville, which is along the Monterey Bay coastline. At that time, the annual strawberry festival was taking place. Due to the large production of the berry in and around Watsonville, the town honors it with an entertainment filled festival each year. Crowds gathered in the fairgrounds to enjoy the festivities, even in the summer heat at midday.
Everything about the trip was fun and there was an interesting mix of history and new opportunities and excitement. The experience was the perfect capping to a sunny summer.
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