The YouTube video of otters holding paws is a perennial hit, with 14.7 million views at last count. But step away from the computer—just a short drive from San Francisco is Monterey Bay, where you can see the sea otters, live and super cute, in their natural habitat.
Start in Pacific Grove, the small town that is right next to Monterey proper. There, at the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, is a two-story high otter exhibit, as well as an otter rehabilitation center, where orphaned baby otters are adopted and cared for by older otters. The Aquarium’s other exhibits, including the ethereal 28-foot Kelp Forest and the daily feeding of the mischievous penguins, are also well-worth visiting.
For lunch, visit local foodie favorite Passionfish for seasonal Californian cuisine. Afterwards, walk along the four-mile trail in Pacific Grove that starts near the aquarium and ends at the beginning of 17-Mile Drive. You’ll see sea lions, otters, and seals—and through the end of October, one of the world’s largest gatherings of blue whales. At the Point Piños lighthouse, you’ll also find a tide pool, perfect for looking at starfish and hermit crabs.
The preceding post is part of the SFist Fall Guide, sponsored by Lexus.