Sand City's West End Celebration
Sand City's West End Celebration is one of the smaller local festivals and one that is attended mainly by locals. At the same time, it is one of the more fun local events and certainly worth a trip (much better than Monterey's Turkish or Greek Festivals, or the Cannery Row Block Party).
The West End Celebration is a festival for the area's growing collection of painters, photographers, sculptors, glassblowers, and other artists. To make it even better they have some great local restaurants and bars on site to deliver Monterey seafood and tasty beer and liquor from one of the best local bars! Yes, you heard right, this event allows open containers on the street during the festival as long as you get your drinks from within the festival perimeter.
This festival in 2008 had 50 or more local artists, numerous local food vendors--including one of my favorites Sea Harvest, and of course a full bar from Carbone's the best neighborhood bar in Monterey (it might help that Sal lives in Sand City!). The festival also had lots of live music--at least eight bands on three or four different stages. Just outside the festival area is the Ol' Factory Cafe, Sand City's best (and only) bar and restaurant that happens to be located in a smelly old factory (ok, it's not smelly, despite the misleading name).
The West End Celebration is held on a Friday and Saturday in late August each year.
Frog Pond Wetland Preserve - Del Rey Oaks
The Frog Pond Wetland Preserve is maintained and operated by Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. This tiny 17 acre park is open for pedestrians only and has about one mile of hiking trails. The park is surrounded by houses or road on all four sides, and has a variety of habitats including a freshwater pond, small grassy meadows, marshes, and oak woodlands. Animals include the Pacific tree frog and mallard ducks.
The only public entrance is on Canyon Del Rey Road between General Jim Moore Blvd & Highland St. From Monterey, take Fremont or Del Monte toward Seaside, and turn right on Canyon Del Rey. Roadside parking for perhaps 4 or 5 cars is available on berm of the north side of the road.
The Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District has been in existence since 1972, and its mission is to preserve open space in the area around Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel. Since its inception the parks district has secured 20,000 acres of land in 24 parks and open spaces all preserved for environmental and recreational reasons. The parks district is funded by a 1/2 percent allocation of the property tax collected in the region (comes to about $5 for the district for every $100,000 of property value). Since 2004 residents have paid an additional $19 per household per year to increase the scope of this open space preservation.
Seaside has a few Murals worth checking out if you have nothing better to do. One that I like is on Del Monte next to Jim's Chinese. This mural features Monterey's endangered plant and animal species. Another is at the Campo Santo Mausoleum in Mission Memorial park. Seaside also has a few murals by Salinas artist John Cerney located in view of Highway 1 and at an insurance place on Del Monte.
Cerney's latest art works are three Cannery Row-themed murals depicting the characters from Steinbeck's novel as well as dock workers and cannery workers. The first was just placed along the recreation trail next to the new Cannery Row Hotel. This 10x12 foot monsterpiece features "Mack and the boys" six notorious slackers from the 1930s.
Fort Ord Dunes State Park - Marina
California's newest state park is right here in the Monterey area and it's called Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Located on the narrow stretch of coastline between Highway 1 and the bay on the former Fort Ord, this park offers about 4 miles of lightly developed coastal habitat that the Army had used for various purposes over the years, one being small arms ranges. There is one main road that runs the length of the beach, one main parking area, and numerous trails offering beach habitat. The state just approved the opening of Fort Ord Dunes Park on 14 March 2007 and it should be open to the public by the summer of 2007. The park is between Marina and Seaside/Sand City, and the entrance will be from 8th Street in Marina.
They are various dune preserves along Monterey Bay including parts of Monterey State Beach, Del Monte Dunes State Ecological Preserve, Landfill Dune Preserve, and South Monterey Bay Dunes Preserve. These dunes form a specialized habitat for plants like dune grass, California poppy, and beach morning glory as well as for animals including mice, rabbits, lizards and snakes.
It took a long time for people to realize the value of the dunes, so they were exploited in years gone by. Hwy 1 runs on top of the dunes for many miles, dunes were leveled for apartments and hotels, a landfill was created in the dunes, and there is still a sewage treatment facility in the dunes at Sand City next to Seaside.