Cannery Row

A historic waterfront street in Monterey, with more than its fair share of excellent restaurants.

TravelCurious Tip

Don’t miss the Ed Ricketts Lab, which used to be run by John Steinbeck’s biologist friend. It’s a gentleman’s club today, but Ricketts inspired the character “Doc” in Steinbeck’s books

Cannery Row is the waterfront street in Monterey, California. It was once home to numerous sardine canning factories — hence the name. However, the last cannery closed in 1973 and since then it has become renowned for its restaurants. Its name was immortalised by John Steinbeck who, in his novel entitled Cannery Row, described the street as “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”


The waters off Cannery Row are no longer as plundered for seafood as they once were, and the marine life has resurged in some style. In particular, the bay is home to a blossoming population of California sea lions. However, Cannery Row is still popular as a set-off destination for sport fishermen, kayakers and scuba-diving. Monterey Bay is one of the United States’ most popular diving spots.

A Fish Tale

At the north end of Cannery Row you can get a little closer to the marine life without having to don the diving bell. The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened in 1984 and its centrepiece is the Ocean’s Edge Wing, a 28-foot high, 277,000 gallon tank which was the first in the world to successfully grow Californian Giant Kelp. Within the kelp forest visitors can see all manners of marine life, just like you would find in the bay itself.

Fruit of the Sea

However, Cannery Row’s real draw is its restaurants. You will want to eat seafood here, and the best place to do it is the Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant. Start with clam chowder and fresh oysters; move on to the giant portions of just about anything that moves under water. Come during the day and you can look over the sea lions, harbour seals, pelicans and cormorants below. And for dessert? Head to Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop and treat yourself to one of their decadent sundaes.

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