Thanksgiving in Monterey Bay

Hi, It's Me!

For those of you looking for Los Angeles restaurant and shopping recommendations, this post won’t really help you. This is my first “Hi, It’s Me” post, and here, I’ll be sharing some stories that will help you get to know me a little better — from tales of adventures I take, to restaurant and attraction recommendations in other cities I vacations to, to [SPOILER ALERT] stories about my chinchilla named Oswald, and his many silly quirks and talents. This tab won’t be for all of you, and that’s okay — feel free to scroll past it and read my other posts for plenty more Los Angeles recommendations. But for those of you who do read on, it’s great to meet you and I hope I can give you a good read 🙂

In this post specifically, expect to find out how I spent my Thanksgiving weekend along with some excellent restaurant and attraction recommendations for Monterey Bay, California!

Even though LA is my home and has somehow managed to keep a motivated and adventurous person like myself, entertained and engaged for 22 years and counting, I do still enjoy the occasional getaway and opportunity to explore the sights and sounds of cities outside of my own.

This past weekend, my boyfriend, Alec, and his wonderful family invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them in Salinas, and as an added bonus to such a flattering invitation, I was able relive some of my fondest childhood memories and visit a city I had the good fortune of visiting once a year between the ages of 1 and 10 years old.

From those childhood visits, I assembled and stored away a collection of positive memories — but 12 years later, only snippets of those images remained. Things like bagpipes, rolling green hills and clam chowder bread bowls appeared like vivid dreams in my mind, but beyond those futile images, I had no idea where to go if I wanted to find these places again. After a few convoluted conversations with my dad about these random pieces of information I had to go on, we finally figured out where the bagpipes and clam chowder came from, and how I could get there on my own.

After a quick and utterly breathtaking 5 hour drive, bright and early on Thursday morning, more or less up the California coast, we had finally arrived in Salinas, California (just a 20 minute drive from the Monterey Bay). We spent Thanksgiving day playing board games and watching the National Dog Show, switching to the Chargers game during the commercials — normally, I’m a sports fanatic, but if it ever comes down to watching football OR watching hundreds of handsome doggos prancing around and being the goodest boys, I’m going to choose the doggos 10 out of 10 times. NO RAGRETS.

Come Friday morning, bellies somehow just as full as they were the night before, I joined my boyfriend’s family for a hike at Point Lobos in Monterey. Since Point Lobos did not come up as an item on the list of activities I had previously done in Monterey in my earlier conversations with my dad, this would be a chance to make some entirely new memories.

Point Lobos was absolutely gorgeous! With about the perfect amount of rigor for a morning-after-the-largest-meal-you-eat-all-year hike, and plenty of sights to see along the way, including miles of forest in all directions, leading up to at least 10 roaring, rocky coves laden with hundreds of spotted pelicans around every weaving corner, this 3 mile hike was the perfect start to my Friday morning.

After accomplishing the Point Lobos loop, Alec and I parted ways from his parents, as they decided to head back home to LA, while we decided to seek out the clam chowder and bagpipes!

Our first stop was the Monterey Bay, Fisherman’s Wharf — home of the infamous clam chowder bread bowl! One pleasant surprise upon my return to the Fisherman’s Wharf was that there were at least a dozen places that served clam chowder and they all stationed a representative outside to hand out samples of their own famous recipe. After about 7 samples of clam chowder, I couldn’t stomach a whole bowl of it, no matter how sensational each and every sample was. Luckily, clam chowder isn’t all they serve on the Wharf. With hundreds of options, from beer battered fish and chips to crispy crab cakes, I was faced with an impossible decision — forgive the dramatics but making any decision, let alone one about what to eat, is like asking me to pick what kind of puppy I want — I want all of them guys, how am I supposed to pick just one?

After at least three laps up and down the Wharf, I decided on a little vendor that served small cups of fresh, shucked oysters, garlic and white wine marinated calamari, and miniature prawn cocktails. They were the perfect size and fresh as could be!

Alec, on the other hand, is an excellent decision maker and was set on Scale’s fish and chips from the start! I had a bite of both the fish and the chips and they were each heavenly — crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside!

The next stop on our adventure was to stop by the house my grandparents used to have up there. Even just peering in at the old home from the driveway brought back hundreds more memories.

It was nearing sunset at this point, and since the house was sitting just a few miles from where I learned the bagpipes were, we made The Inn at Spanish Bay our next stop. After running into and catching up with my cousins on the tennis courts, Alec and I took a beautiful walk along the coastline. When we turned the last corner to the outdoor patio and bar, I saw the exact image that had been etched into my memory 12 years ago — the rolling green hills! And minutes later, a man in a traditional Scottish kilt, playing a bagpipe ascended those rolling hills and played 45 minutes of charming melodies while Alec and I enjoyed a beer and a glass of wine, respectively.

Last but not least, and before we got on the road for a red eye drive back to LA, we stopped at my all time favorite Monterey restaurant as a kid — Rio Grill. We each ordered a deliciously crisp Caesar salad to start and shared the most amazing skirt steak we’ve ever had. It was lightly coated in a sweet and savory marinade and served alongside a decadent sweet potato gratin.

Full and happy, we wobbled over to our car and started the 5 hour journey back home, with dozens of new memories that we’ll be able hold onto for decades to come.