Free Trolly around Monterey
From Memorial Day to Labor Day the city of Monterey provides a FREE trolly service called the WAVE (Waterfront Area Visitor Express) to Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf, Downtown Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium with a audio tour of the sites.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Old Monterey Railroad Station
This is not too far off the beaten path, but it's not something really advertised to tourists, so many might not know what it is... But this is actually a very significant historic site that has fallen into disrepair. The city of Monterey recently purchased the property and hopefully will accomplish the much-needed restoration.
The first train along this line entered Monterey in 1874, and it became a primary tourist route between San Francisco and Monterey. Southern Pacific's Del Monte Express began operation in 1880. It operated from San Francisco to Pacific Grove's Lover's Point until it was disbanded in 1971. While the train originally stopped at Lover's point, it later was extended a few miles around the bend at Point Pinos and to the edge of Pebble Beach, mainly for the purpose of hauling sand from Spanish Bay to glass blowers. During World Wars I and II, this station was a key point for the US Army to ship soldiers between the Pacific Theater and bases across the country. The last train ran in 1971. This is actually the train that struck and killed Doc Rickets along Cannery Row in Monterey.
A second railway along a similar route was the Monterey and Pacific Grove Railway. It ran from 1891 until its abandonment in 1923. This was originally operated by 10 horse-pulled cars on rails, which traveled from Monterey' Old Del Monte Hotel (now part of the Naval Postgraduate School) past Lovers Point. This method of transport was so famous, even President Benjamin Harrison visited Pacific Grove on April 1st, 1891, and he rode on the railroad's very first trip. While the railway was never extended past Lovers Point, there were plans drawn up in 1904 to extend the railway all the way past Spanish Bay, through Pebble Beach and Carmel to the Carmel Mission. This same year, the route was electrified, eliminating the need for the horses. Unfortunately after World War I, automobiles grew in popularity and the last train trip on this route was conducted in 1923.
Today the rail lines have been removed and replaced by the very popular coastal running trail...interestingly, there are plans afoot to restore train service to Monterey as part of the Caltrain system...but there's no way they will shut down the recreation trail...will they? Much of the plans are still in discussion, but my understanding is they will use a new right of way for the new rail line.
Monterey Movie Tour
Monterey's Movie Tour sounds like a tourist trap, but is actually a popular and well-reviewed attraction in Monterey. The three hour tour takes you to view 72 scenes from various movies filmed in the area. The tour has prepared clips of some of the movies that were filmed in the area, and you can watch the scenes on the bus's TV prior to visiting the actual locations.
Besides the movie scenes the tour makes 3 stops during its 32-mile loop along 17 Mile Drive in scenic Pebble Beach including Bird Rock, the famous Lone Cypress Tree, and the Lodge at Pebble Beach.
Tours leave daily at 1pm from near Fishermans Wharf (often the Portolo Plaza Hotel) and the cost is $49. Reservations are encouraged.
How about a cruise to Monterey?
Celebrity X Cruises has an occasional cruise from San Diego to Alaska that makes a day stop in beautiful Monterey. The company's schedule has this stop only 2 or 3 times a year.
This amazing trip has the following ripoffs while in town:
* 17-Mile Drive & Carmel sightseeing for $59 per person (on your own it is only $9 to enter what they call a "private resident-only road" but what is actually one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area).
* Monterey Bay Sea Kayak tours are also $59 per person for 2.5 hours, but which normally only cost $30 for an entire day or $100 for a month.
* Monterey Bay Aquarium & Carmel Mission tour is $75 per person, but normally only costs a sane person about $25 for the aquarium and the mission is free. You could take your own personal taxi for far less than the difference in price.... even better if 2-4 people share a cab.
* Monterey Movie Tour is $75 per person via the cruiseline, but only $49 if you book it yourself and walk about 100 feet to the Portolo Plaza Hotel.
* Monterey Winery & Carmel Mission for $74.... Again, Carmel Mission is free and you can take the Monterey-Salinas Transit's Grapevine Express to Carmel Valley's numerous wineries for just $4.50 for the entire day. What does you other $70.50 go to?
Seeing these ripoffs in Monterey makes me certain I'll never go on a cruise of any kind.
At the same time, a cruise ship stopping in Monterey is a boon to the local economy. It is said the average passenger spends $105 during a port call on a cruise, meaning at least $250,000 for the Monterey businesses during just a few hours the ship is docked in the bay.
Tall ship Lynx
The tall ship Lynx is a modern replica of a War of 1812 privateering vessel of the same name. The modern version was built in 2001 in Maine and is registered in Portsmouth New Hampshire. The ship is now headquartered in Newport Beach, California, and it travels the US west coast as well as making the occasional trip to Hawaii (which must be a long journey at 15 mile per hour!)
Each year the Lynx spends a few weeks in Monterey, docked at the end of Fisherman's Wharf. Ship tours are given daily from 4 to 5 pm when it's docked. The cost of tours is $5 (children 12 and younger admitted free). Weekend sails are $65 for adults and $30 for children 12 and younger.
The original Lynx was built in Fells Point, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1812. It was used as a blockade runner and privateer until captured by the British at the start of its second voyage between the Chesapeake Bay and France. The ship served in the British Naval, was renamed Mosquidobit, and was stationed in Nova Scotia. She was later sent to England and decommissioned around 1920.
Surrey and Bike Rentals?
Tourists love the four-wheeled bicycles that crawl up and down the recreation trail between Monterey's wharfs and Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. Most locals are pretty annoyed by the steel behemoths that hog most of the trail when you are trying to jog or bicycle. These things are especially hard to turn around and often end up blocking the entire trail, as dad gets out to push while the family sits in the buggy. Other times, I have seen families leave the surrey parked in the middle of the trail while they go look at the beach or a tide pool.
Adventures by the Sea seems to have a virtual monopoly on the surreys, and they have locations at Lovers Point, Cannery Row, downtown at the Portolo Plaza Hotel, and next to Del Monte Beach. Small surreys are $18 per hour and large surreys are $28 per hour. I have seen as many as 5 people in the large surreys, and they claim that two more small kids can fit in the basket up front... Your other option is Bay Bikes on Cannery Row for $30 an hour.
Joselyns Bikes (http://www.joselynsbicycles.com/services.htm) on Franklin Street charges $100 for full day, $60 for half day, & $20 per hour. They seem to only rent one kind of very high-end bike so their prices are steep.
Adventures by the Sea (www.adventuresbythesea.com) only charges $24 for a full days rental (8 hours) and $6 an hour. Of course, their bikes are older and pretty basic.
Bay Bikes (www.baybikes.com/rentals/) on Cannery Row also has a great variety of options, so you can pay anywhere from $20 a day (or $90 a week) up to $100 a day depending on which type of bike you want to rent. Their day is 24 hours rather than Adventures' 8 hours, so it might be a better deal.
Whether renting a bike or surrey please remember others use this trail everyday, and we don't need careless tourists interrupting our workout nor causing an injury by making people go off road.... as frequently happens. Keep right, pull over if you want to check out the sea lions, and look behind you before turning left across the trail.
Monterey Peninsula Airport is a tiny little airport just a few quick minutes from downtown Monterey. There are about 40 daily flights to and from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City via American Eagle, US Airways, Delta and United. In May 2007, ExpressJet began operations at Monterey with daily flights to San Diego and LA/Ontario, Ca. If you live in the Monterey area, the best features of the airport are its convenient location and relatively cheap parking... just $8 per day for long-term parking (SFO is $12 per day, San Jose is $15 per day, and Oakland is $19 a day, Modesto Airport has free parking but they only offer 4 flights a day and all go to SFO). Monterey Air Bus provides 14 trips a day to San Francisco and San Jose Airports, while the local Monterey Salinas Transit buses serve Monterey Airport.
Though pilots are encouraged to use Monterey Bay's over-water route when landing and taking off, the airport is so close to residential areas that noise can be a big problem. I stayed at a hotel on Fremont just 1/2 mile from the runway and was awoken each morning at 6am when the first flight departed. Even Old Monterey and Fisherman's Wharf are just 2 miles from the end of the runway, but noise isn't too bad here.
The airport is located at 200 Fred Kane Drive, off of Olmstead Road. From Monterey, the north or the South, take Rt 1 to Highway 68 North (toward Salinas). Olmstead Road is just 1.5 miles from the exit on the left. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National have rentals from Monterey, and Central Coast Taxi (831-626-3333) connects the airport to the local towns.
Monterey Airport was designed by Carmel architect Robert R. Jones who constructed about 25 of the old fish cannery buildings on Cannery Row.
The Monterey Airbus is a great way to get to and from the major airports near Monterey. If you are flying in or out of San Francisco or San Jose International Airports, the airbus will take you there for a reasonable fee.
If you live in the Monterey or Salinas area, the bus will pick you up at your home and bring you to the transportation center in downtown Monterey (you also have the option to meet the bus downtown). From there, you board a comfortable luxury bus/van and drive to SJC and SFO. There are bus pickups in Monterey, Salinas, Prunedale and Morgan Hill.
I've used this service to get to the airport and have found it to be reliable, friendly and clean. The drivers are punctual and take care of all your luggage. The buses are warm or cool (depending ont he time of year) and seat are spacious. I highly recommend this service as opposed to parking your car at an airport.
The website details the routes and corresponding rates.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
Carmel valley wine bus - $4.50 all day!!
Monterey-Salinas transit, our local public bus system runs a bus route they call the Grapevine Express. Nothing fancy, but it stops around Carmel Valley wineries and downtown Monterey/Cannery Row - It's a fun way to taste without worrying about a DD!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Wine Tasting
Monterey Transit Plaza
If you don't have a car, you can get into, out of, and around Monterey riding a bus.
To board a bus, go to the Monterey Transit Plaza or one of the bus stops; however, the Transit Plaza is the main bus hub.
There are local buses that take you to the Del Monte Shopping Center, Carmel, PG and Cannery Row, Seaside, Salinas, etc.
Also, there are Greyhound buses that stop at the plaza to take you further afield.
Buses - A Variety of Options
Monterey Salinas Transit (MST), Monterey Salinas Air Bus, & Amtrak Thruway all offer bus service in Monterey. The hub for all bus service is the Monterey Transit Plaza at Simoneau Plaza downtown, bordered by Munras Avenue & Alvarado, Pearl, & Tyler Streets.
MST runs city buses throughout the local area including Salinas, Carmel, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, Marina, Seaside, Monterey Airport, San Jose, & many other locations. One way fares are $2 per person on the Monterey Peninsula & an additional $2 per zone. MST also operates a DART bus which provides custom service between some Monterey areas without regular bus service and the downtown transit plaza (call for pickup 1-866-663-DART).
MST's best deal is the Wave Trolley which runs during tourist season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, providing free transportation to various points between the Aquarium and Downtown Monterey including Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row (10am to 7pm, with a bus every 10 to 12 minutes).
The Monterey Salinas Air Bus provides 14 buses a day to San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) Airports. The buses all depart Monterey from the transit plaza, then stop at Salinas, SJC, and SFO, taking about 1.5 hours from Monterey to SJC and just over 2 hours to SFO. Buses depart Monterey every 1.5 hours from 4am until 7pm. Reservations are recommended and they will provide shuttle service from your home or hotel to the transit plaza (831-373-7777). One way fares are $30 to SJC & $40 to SFO.
Amtrak Thruway buses operate to the regional Amtrak stations in Salinas, Merced, and San Jose. The bus to San Jose or Salinas is $8, while Merced is $29. Because Amtrak is federally subsidized, any bus trip to these cities must also be booked with a train segment on your journey to prevent unfair competition with the non-federally subsidized local buses.
The airport in Monterey is very small and has a select number of flights to and from Vegas, LA, San Fran and Salt Lake City. If you're flying into Monterey, the flights are not usually overly expensive (in comparison to driving to Monterey from any of these areas) but the flights can be rare. As I found out, this can cause a problem if your baggage doesn't make a connection.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
If you live close enough, throw the bikes in the car, otherwise you can rent them at Lover's Point in Pacific Grove or Cannery Row. There is a bike/recreation trail that goes for miles along the Monterey coast.
For a quick trip, here is the best section: Del Monte Beach (approximately the intersection of Camino Aguajito and Del Monte Ave) to Asilomar Beach. It is about 6 miles (10 km for you metric types!!) long, or 12 miles roundtrip and fairly flat. It is right along the ocean, goes by Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, Lovers Point... I live here and it never gets old..
There are 2 shops that rent various type of bikes, including the 4-person surreys.
Use a search engine to find "Adventures by the Sea"; I'll put the other website below.
By plane and /or airport shuttle
Yes, there's an airport here too. It's small enough to be easy and efficient, but big enough to connect you from lots of places. The airport code is MRY. You can use this on websites like Expedia. There are rental cars, taxis, etc available at the airport. It is about 5 minutes from downtown.
It may be cheaper to fly into San Jose (SJC) or San Fransisco (SFO). There is a shuttle bus that runs between all 3 airports. It is $20/per person from SJC and $40/per person from SFO. http://www.montereyairbus.com/ It's a regular schedule that is on their website.
SJC is about 1hr 15 min away and SFO is about 2 hr 30 minutes away.
Rent a bike
If you are interested, you can rent a bike for your sightseeing. I remember there were some cycling paths and the weather was great for biking when we were there.
This is just an alternative to walking, which is probably my preferred option anyway. I wouldn't consider driving as you will miss the beauty of the place if you do and the distances are not that great anyway.
Of course, if you want to venture to the 17-mile drive or the Big Sur, you might want to drive
The site below offers bike rentals.
This place rents out 4 Wheel Family Bike Surreys...
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