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Your guide to Monterey: Tide pools, tacos and more

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On a trip to Monterey, bypass Cannery Row in favor of exploring area beaches and tidepools.
(Mike Morris)

My wife and I have been to Monterey many times with our two kids, but we saw this coastal city with a fresh perspective when we joined my parents on their first visit to California’s Central Coast. We skipped Monterey’s famed aquarium in search of tide pools, got lost on a well-known scenic drive and tried out a new brewery.

The tab: Two nights at Monterey Tides cost $710; lunch and a couple of rounds of beers at Dust Bowl Brewing Co. was $90; and entry to 17-Mile Drive was $10.50 per vehicle.

THE BED

We have stayed at Monterey Tides several times. Its direct beach access to Monterey Bay has kept us coming back, despite changes in name, owners and decor. We love falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing. My parents had a room with a king-size bed, and my family’s room with two queen beds was just a short walk away. The hotel offers amenities including beach-side yoga on Saturday mornings. We saw a group stretch into their poses as we, coffee and pastries in hand, chased our kids. Maybe next time.

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THE MEAL

Monterey
Dust Bowl Brewing Company beer pairs well with food from Wedo’s.
(Mike Morris)

I’ve been a fan of Dust Bowl Brewing Co. for years. The Turlock, Calif.-based brewery opened its Monterey Tap Depot this year in a former train station near Fisherman’s Wharf. Along with a bar inside, there’s an outdoor seating area. My dad and my 13-year-old daughter bonded over a game of corn hole set up in front of the Wedo’s Tacos truck (wedostacos.com). We ate flavorful tacos, including seasonal veggie, hot agave chicken and baja fish with slaw, pico de gallo and avocado crema. My wife, Amber, ordered a Taco Truck Amber lager that paired well with her nachos. I went with one of my favorite beers, Hops of Wrath, an India pale ale that nods to John Steinbeck’s classic novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”

THE FIND
“Cannery Row,” another Steinbeck novel, takes place in Monterey during the Great Depression. The current Cannery Row is lined with restaurants, hotels, shops and the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. On our trip in early October, we bypassed Cannery Row to explore the coast from Pacific Grove south to Asilomar State Beach, which has easy-access tide pools. Our 4-year-old son continues to talk about the baby hermit crab he saw. We then continued a short distance to 17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach. We missed a key turn and ended up going on what we joked was more like a 117-Mile Drive.

THE LESSON LEARNED

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When you’ve been somewhere countless times, you sometimes take it for granted, but when you go with someone who has never been there, you see it from a new point of view. When I asked my mom if she would have changed anything about our trip to Monterey, she had a quick reply: “Stay longer.”

Monterey Tides, 2600 Sand Dunes Drive, Monterey; (831) 394-3321. Wheelchair accessible.

Dust Bowl Brewing Co. Tap Depot, 290 Figueroa St., Monterey; (831) 641-7002. Wheelchair accessible.

Asilomar State Beach, Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove; (831) 646-6440. Select trails are wheelchair accessible. One beach wheelchair and one beach walker are available, free of charge, for use at any Monterey County beach. Call (831) 372-8016 for information.


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