Exploring Moss Landing in Monterey County
If someone had told me that Moss Landing in Monterey county was a cool place to visit, I would have probably just been surprised and curious at the same time to find out why. Typically overlooked by speeding cars heading out to visit popular attractions in Monterey, Moss Landing is a hidden gem and a wonderful place to visit with many unique, marine and nature inspired features. The town itself is quirky and a charming place to explore the town and surrounding areas for a day or an overnight trip.
The village of Moss Landing is small and easy to walk through with less than three blocks of shops, eateries and interesting artifacts found along the way. Walking through the town, you’ll come across some unusual and bizarre collections of art, antiques and large cast off signage parked in every nook and cranny of each storefront or eatery. It really is a cool downtown to walk through – starting with these huge relics and found objects corralled together beside the main intersection of town (above photo).
A fenced in area filled with cast-off memorabilia draws you into this weird space of assembled larger than life collectibles – it feels like some type of museum except it is just a storage space on the grounds of the local Mexican cantina called Haute Enchilada Cafe. The grounds of the restaurant are littered with cool visuals and eye candy – it’s easy and fun spending some time to photograph all the colorful details and recycled art here. The town has a variety of restaurants offering cuisine from locally caught seafood, Thai fushion, Mexican to bistro style fare.
Starting off early one morning, I was walking around with practically the town to myself. This is usually how I love to discover a place when the streets are deserted and there are few cars on the streets. It makes the town more interesting to photograph with no cars blocking the views and showing the vibrant storefronts. I wondered if this sleepy town was typically quiet and slow, or maybe it was because I was the first person awake walking through town. In any case, seeing some of the antique stores and unique shops gave me a nice sense of what this town is all about – I love that creative people and gallery owners have developed a unique identity at Moss Landing. I also love the off beat look and artsy feel of this town – something totally refreshing. It’s fun to linger and enjoy all the details especially when you have the place mostly to yourself.
Every storefront exudes color and Victorian charm with a bit of quirky and bohemian flare – you really want to peak into each building to check out what is inside. The antique stores and art galleries in town are rich with character – I even peeked through the windows of the antique gallery with the white horse below – I would have loved to go in for a nice long visit and talk with the owner, but unfortunately it was still closed, I had other plans already scheduled for the morning.
Along the strip are abandoned ships from the harbor that have outlived their days and are either slowly deteriorating back to the earth or used as markers for a food venue. What a creative way to use an old ship, don’t you think? Even the old relic resting below in this pastureland felt so natural in some strange way.
Anyone interested in nature and ocean environments will love visiting the beach at Salinas River State beach and the Elkhorn Slough, a national estuary and research reserve. You will find a variety of harbor seals, otters, sea lions and over 340 species of birds and protected habitat in this reserve. The best way to visit is by kayaking, joining a guided tour or in my case crossing the bride to the beach area and walking through some of the trails along the main estuary. It’s wonderful seeing so much marine life and birds up close and practically having nature right at your feet.
I love visiting harbors and the harbor district at Moss Landing is very colorful. Filled with an assortment of sailboats, touring vessels and attractive fishing boats, I captured some of the vessels with unusual names that caught my eye. It must be fun to watch many of these unloading their catch when they come back into port, but I only saw them at the start leaving for their fishing journey.
Needless to say seafood is very local and fresh at Moss Landing and you’ll find everything from Dungeness crab to just caught sea bass sold fresh off the boats or at any of the local restaurants in town. I took the opportunity to visit the combination market and restaurant at Phil’s market and eatery – a popular and local seafood hangout in Moss Landing. The newly caught fish was just being laid out that morning when I walked in the door.
Even the area around the harbor area is quirky – I spotted this red bungalow with a giant lobster and a strange hanging head outside the entrance to that person’s home. I’m sure there’s a story to tell about that hanging head – hopefully a funny one.
I did get a chance to stay overnight in Moss Landing at the Captain’s Inn on the edge of town. A historic home-built in 1906 by the Pacific Coast Shippiing Company. It was later converted in 2003 into a wonderful inn. The room I stayed in had a nautical theme of a fishing vessel and the room had magnificent views of the estuary and beach areas. I think it was one of the honey moon suites because of the large bathtub jacuzzi and fireplace right next to the king size bed, too bad I was solo and exhausted from the days adventure.
Moss landing is just 15 minutes north of the popular Central coast cities of Monterey and Carmel on Highway one. It’s a wonderful getaway if you are looking for a relaxing visit to Monterey County and connect with nature, the ocean and slough, and enjoy the atmospheric town. To check out more details about Moss Landing, check out their website here. For more photographs of Moss landing, the harbor and nature reserve, check out my Flickr page here.
Thank you for the overnight stay courtesy at the Captain’s Inn, all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you enjoyed this post, please do share it with any of the social media buttons on the post, thank you.