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Where to find “A Taste of Monterey” –

John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and the HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies (by Liane Moriarty) came to mind during my trip to Monterey, California.   The retired Cannery Row was proudly showcased, populated with store fronts and my favorite, the wine tasting room on the Monterey Bay coastline, A Taste of Monterey.  A round of tennis, followed by the view of Monterey Bay with a flight of wine was a fantastic way to spend the weekend before Christmas!

As we drove from San Francisco towards Monterey we passed some of California’s finest agricultural farms.  William’s favorite part was when we drove through the eucalyptus grove.  We rolled down our windows to take in the refreshing fragrance.  The drive reminded me of my friend, Julie. She shared with us that as a child, her father used to quiz her on the names of trees and plants as they drove the farmland together.  Although that was many years ago, the knowledge passed down from father to daughter lives on.

Since Julie doesn’t play tennis (yet), I was on my own finding tennis courts to play on in the Monterey area. I was pleased to find The Monterey Tennis Center, in Monterey, California.  We called a week or two ahead of time to reserve our court.  We were told that on Saturday mornings, most of the courts were reserved for the men’s USTA team practice; however, the owner of the club (Alan Telfer, Owner/Manager, USPTA Professional) did reserve a court for us for the date and time we desired (tip:  non-member rate was $5.00 per person for 1 ½ hours of court time).  There were plenty of players and there was certainly an opportunity to play with the local tennis community. The drive to Monterey, California from San Francisco airport (SFO) took about 1 ½ – 2 hours (tip:  option to fly into Monterey, CA – MRY)

Straight from the east coast (it snowed the morning we left), it was refreshing to hit tennis balls outdoors (we use Pro Penn hard court tennis balls)!  William was super excited to use his new Solinco Shadow tennis racquet (my racquet of choice)!    William loved the way the racquet felt from the first time he tried it.  Although our racquets were strung differently, by our Master Stringer, Gerald Sarmiento, Tao Tennis Shops, Warren, New Jersey, we were impressed with this racquet from the start!  When we arrived to the courts, we checked in at the red hut, which had a tennis Pro shop, tennis stringers, and an office for the staff including the tennis teaching professionals.   After we played 1 ½ hours of tennis, We were pretty excited to check into Intercontinental The Clement Monterey Hotel.

Our hotel overlooked Monterey Bay on Cannery Row.  The view could have been a picture on a post card, or a scene from John Steinbeck’s book, Cannery Row (tip:  located in Salinas, CA, the National Steinbeck Center).  Although, we were only in Monterey for a short visit, we were successful in finding a great facility to play tennis, visit A Taste of Monterey (tip:  best view of Monterey Bay.  Full service lunch, wine tasting and shop.  Ask for the manager, Jasmine.  For hiking opportunities, try the Monterey Bay hiking trail along the bay, we have nicknamed the wine walk!) and other attractions.  At A Taste of Monterey, our waiter (Jacob, a PhD candidate in Marine Biology), provided us with a great wealth of knowledge of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was very helpful, as we subsequently visited the large facility.    The Monterey Bay Aquarium was amazing.  I was awestruck, as I had never seen anything quite like this aquarium. It was a short walk (one block) from our Intercontinental The Clement Monterey Hotel (not only did our Hotel have super friendly staff, but our updated room had a cozy gas fireplace), which made it very convenient to walk the famous Cannery Row strip (Tip:  If you go to the aquarium for more than one day, consider the annual pass – best value).

Stop and smell the roses, or in our case the Eucalyptus on your way to Monterey, California.   Even if you stay for just one day or the weekend, don’t forget your tennis racquets and balls to play at the Monterey Tennis Center before you hike along the Monterey Bay shore, visit the nostalgic shops or restaurants, such as my favorite, A Taste of Monterey, before or after visiting the substantial, fabulous, Monterey Aquarium.  Monterey, another reason to love California!

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