Uncover Monterey’s Hidden Gems: Must-See Spots and Activities

Lone cypress at Monterey Bay

Monterey, located on the stunning California coastline, offers a plethora of unforgettable experiences for visitors. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure enthusiast, or a history buff, this charming coastal city has something to cater to every interest. From scenic trails and whale watching to vibrant streets and iconic drives, the top things to do in Monterey promise an incredible journey of exploration and discovery. So, if you’re planning a visit to Monterey, get ready to create lasting memories amidst captivating landscapes and a thriving cultural scene.

things to do in Monterey Bay

Key Takeaways:

  • Monterey offers a wide range of activities and attractions for all interests.
  • Explore the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail for breathtaking views of the coastline and outdoor adventure.
  • Embark on a whale watching tour to witness marine creatures like gray whales and dolphins up close.
  • Visit Cannery Row and experience the city’s history and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Indulge in the culinary delights and entertainment options at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is a must-visit attraction in Monterey. Spanning 14 miles along the coast, the trail offers stunning views of the beaches, cliffs, and fishing piers. You can choose to walk or bike along the trail and enjoy the scenic beauty at your own pace. With numerous dining options along the way, the trail provides a perfect opportunity for a day of outdoor adventure and relaxation.

As you traverse the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The trail winds its way through picturesque coastal neighborhoods, giving you a taste of Monterey’s charming local communities.

If you’re a nature lover, keep an eye out for diverse wildlife that call the bay home. Spotting seals, sea otters, and various bird species along the trail is a common occurrence.

Beach Access and Recreational Activities

One of the highlights of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is the easy beach access it provides. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, build sandcastles, or simply take a refreshing dip in the ocean, the trail offers convenient entry points to some of the most beautiful beaches in Monterey.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, consider trying your hand at surfing. Monterey serves as a fantastic surfing destination, with waves suitable for both beginners and seasoned surfers. Grab your board and catch some waves along the coast!

For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, pack a picnic and stop at one of the many picturesque picnic spots along the trail. Enjoy a relaxing meal surrounded by stunning coastal views and feel the stress melt away.

“The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is the perfect blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, beach lover, or simply looking to embark on a scenic adventure, this trail has something for everyone.” – Local Resident

Family-Friendly Attractions

The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is a favorite amongst families, offering a range of kid-friendly attractions along the way. Stop by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located near the trail, to marvel at fascinating marine life and get up close with playful sea otters and penguins.

Take a break from your trail exploration and visit the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, where kids can learn about the region’s flora, fauna, and native habitats. The museum also features interactive exhibits and educational programs for children of all ages.

While walking or cycling along the trail, keep an eye out for playgrounds and scenic spots perfect for a family picnic. Create lasting memories as you explore Monterey’s coastal beauty with your loved ones.

A Dining Adventure

As you make your way along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, take advantage of the diverse dining options available. From casual beachside cafes to upscale seafood restaurants, Monterey offers a wide range of culinary delights to satisfy any appetite.

Indulge in fresh seafood dishes made from local catches or savor international flavors at one of the many restaurants overlooking the ocean. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty seafood chowder, a succulent crab feast, or a refreshing seaside cocktail, the trail is dotted with restaurants that cater to every palate.

To add a touch of romance to your coastal adventure, plan a sunset dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. Enjoy breathtaking sunset views as you savor a delicious meal made with the freshest ingredients Monterey has to offer.

Dining Recommendations Location Cuisine
Fisherman’s Wharf Monterey Seafood
Alvarado Street Monterey International
Cannery Row Monterey Seafood

Plan your dining adventure along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail for a truly memorable culinary experience.

Whale Watching

Monterey is renowned for its whale watching opportunities. There are several tour companies that offer guided whale watching tours, allowing you to witness these majestic creatures up close. Gray whales, humpback whales, and blue whales are commonly spotted in the Monterey Bay, along with dolphins and sea lions. Embark on a whale watching tour to experience the awe-inspiring sight of these marine animals in their natural habitat.

Whale watching Monterey Bay

Whale watching in Monterey is a truly unforgettable experience. Imagine being surrounded by the vast expanse of the Monterey Bay, with the anticipation of catching a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The sight of a breaching whale or the sound of a whale’s blow spout will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders.

Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or simply looking for a unique and educational experience, whale watching in Monterey is a must-do activity. The tour guides are knowledgeable and passionate about marine life, providing fascinating insights into the behavior and conservation efforts of these gentle giants.

As you set sail on the Monterey Bay, keep your camera ready to capture the thrilling moments when whales breach the surface or gracefully dive beneath the waves. Don’t forget to bring binoculars for a closer look at these incredible creatures. The tour boats are equipped with comfortable viewing decks and knowledgeable crew members who can answer any questions you may have.

The Best Time for Whale Watching

The best time for whale watching in Monterey is during the migration seasons. Gray whales migrate along the Monterey Bay from December to April, making it the perfect time to spot these gentle giants. From April to December, humpback whales and blue whales can also be seen feeding in the rich waters of the bay.

Choose Your Whale Watching Tour

When planning your whale watching adventure in Monterey, consider the different tour options available. Some tour companies offer shorter excursions, ideal for those with limited time, while others provide full-day trips for a more immersive experience. You can also choose between group tours or private charters, depending on your preferences and budget.

“Whale watching in Monterey is a thrilling experience that allows visitors to connect with nature and witness the beauty of marine life up close.”

So, if you’re looking for an exciting and educational activity in Monterey, don’t miss the opportunity to go whale watching. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring world of these magnificent creatures and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is a vibrant street in Monterey that showcases the city’s history and charm. Formerly the hub of the sardine trade, Cannery Row now features a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Explore the historic cannery buildings, indulge in delicious seafood, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this iconic street. Cannery Row is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the heart and soul of Monterey.

Cannery Row

Explore the History and Culture

Cannery Row is steeped in history, dating back to the early 1900s when it was bustling with sardine canneries. Take a walk along the street and marvel at the well-preserved historic buildings that once played a vital role in Monterey’s economy. Many of these buildings have been transformed into unique shops and galleries, showcasing local art, jewelry, clothing, and crafts. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the area as you explore the fascinating history of Cannery Row.

Indulge in Culinary Delights

One of the highlights of a visit to Cannery Row is the opportunity to savor the incredible seafood cuisine that Monterey is famous for. Enjoy a mouthwatering meal at one of the many seafood restaurants lining the street, featuring fresh catches from the nearby Monterey Bay. From succulent crab cakes to delectable clam chowder, the dining options on Cannery Row are sure to delight your taste buds. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of locally produced wine or craft beer for the perfect culinary experience.

Shop for Unique Souvenirs

Want to bring home a piece of Monterey’s charm? Cannery Row is the ideal place to find unique souvenirs and gifts. Browse through the local boutiques and specialty shops, offering a wide array of items ranging from nautical-themed decor to handmade jewelry and pottery. Whether you’re looking for a memento to remember your trip or searching for the perfect gift for a loved one, Cannery Row has something to suit every taste and budget.

Experience the Vibrant Atmosphere

Cannery Row is not just about history, food, and shopping—it’s also a place to soak in the lively atmosphere that defines Monterey. As you walk along the street, you’ll encounter street performers, live music, and bustling crowds of locals and tourists alike. Enjoy the vibrant energy of Cannery Row as you explore the various shops, interact with friendly locals, and immerse yourself in the unique ambiance of this iconic street.

Visit Nearby Attractions

Cannery Row is conveniently located near other popular attractions in Monterey. After exploring the street, take a short stroll to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can marvel at the fascinating marine life and learn about the importance of conservation. Alternatively, head towards the breathtaking coastline and enjoy a scenic walk along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, taking in the stunning ocean views along the way.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Old Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular attraction in Monterey, offering a plethora of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Take a leisurely stroll along the wharf, enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants, or embark on a glass-bottom boat tour to explore the underwater world. The wharf also provides access to whale watching tours and offers breathtaking views of the harbor. Don’t miss the chance to experience the vibrant ambiance of Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

When you visit Old Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll be immersed in the rich maritime history of Monterey. With its iconic wooden planks and colorful storefronts, the wharf exudes a charming and nostalgic atmosphere. You can spend hours browsing the unique shops, where you’ll find everything from local handicrafts to trendy fashion accessories. Plus, the wharf is a fantastic place to get those picture-perfect postcard shots of the harbor and fishing boats.

As you explore Old Fisherman’s Wharf, be sure to indulge in a delicious meal featuring fresh seafood. From tantalizing crab cakes to mouthwatering clam chowder, the wharf boasts a variety of eateries that cater to every palate. Feast on your favorite dishes while taking in the panoramic views of the bay. After satisfying your taste buds, you can hop on a glass-bottom boat tour to discover the wondrous marine life beneath the surface.

If you’re interested in whale watching, Old Fisherman’s Wharf is the ideal starting point for an unforgettable adventure. Several tour operators offer thrilling excursions that allow you to witness majestic whales, playful dolphins, and other marine creatures in their natural habitat. Set sail from the wharf, and prepare to be awestruck as you spot these magnificent creatures breaching the water’s surface.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf is also a hub of entertainment, with live music performances, street vendors, and events happening throughout the year. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely afternoon stroll, an evening of fine dining, or a fun-filled family outing, the wharf has something for everyone.

Plan Your Visit to Old Fisherman’s Wharf

When planning your visit to Old Fisherman’s Wharf, be sure to check the operating hours of the attractions and restaurants. Consider visiting during the weekdays to avoid crowds and make the most of your experience. Additionally, be prepared for changing weather conditions by bringing layers of clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Don’t forget your camera to capture the memories of this iconic Monterey destination.

17-Mile Drive

The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic route that winds along the Monterey Bay Peninsula, offering breathtaking views of the coastline. This iconic drive takes you past rugged cliffs, magical forests, and expansive beaches. Highlights of the drive include the Lone Cypress, a symbol of Monterey, and Crocker Grove, home to ancient cypress trees. Take your time to explore the numerous stops along this picturesque route and capture the beauty of Monterey’s natural landscapes.

As you embark on the 17-Mile Drive, prepare to be captivated by the stunning coastal vistas that unfold before your eyes. The drive takes you through the renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links, where you can catch a glimpse of world-class golfers honing their skills on the picturesque fairways. Marvel at the scenic beauty of Cypress Point Lookout, where you can witness crashing waves against dramatic cliffs.

Continue your journey and discover the iconic Lone Cypress, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the ocean. This ancient tree has withstood the test of time and serves as a symbol of resilience and strength. Take a moment to appreciate its majestic presence and capture a photo to cherish the memories.

Further along the drive, you’ll encounter Crocker Grove, a serene grove of ancient cypress trees. These magnificent trees have stood tall for hundreds of years, offering a glimpse into the history and natural wonders of Monterey. Step into the heart of the grove and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance, surrounded by the whispers of nature.

With multiple viewpoints, picnic areas, and beaches along the 17-Mile Drive, there’s plenty of opportunities to pause and soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, the 17-Mile Drive promises to be a memorable experience.

17-Mile Drive Key Stops:

  • Lone Cypress: A symbol of Monterey’s enduring spirit.
  • Cypress Point Lookout: Experience dramatic coastal views.
  • Crocker Grove: Discover ancient cypress trees.
  • Bird Rock: Observe a variety of bird species.
  • The Lodge at Pebble Beach: Explore a luxury resort and golf destination.

“Driving the 17-Mile Drive is like taking a journey through a postcard. The rugged coastline, the towering trees, and the majestic Lone Cypress all combine to create an unforgettable experience.” – Traveler Magazin

Distance Key Points of Interest
0 miles Entrance to Pebble Beach
1.5 miles The Lodge at Pebble Beach
4.5 miles Spanish Bay
6 miles Shepherd’s Knoll
8.5 miles Lone Cypress
10 miles Crocker Grove
12.5 miles Bird Rock
14 miles Spanish Bay Lookout

Embark on the 17-Mile Drive and immerse yourself in the natural wonders and breathtaking beauty that Monterey has to offer. From picturesque coastal views to ancient cypress trees, this scenic route is a must-do for any visitor. Don’t miss the chance to create lasting memories along the 17-Mile Drive.

Surfing in Monterey

Monterey is a haven for surfers, offering an array of renowned surfing spots that cater to surfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Monterey has something for everyone.

Asilomar State Beach and Carmel Beach are popular destinations for experienced surfers, known for their exciting waves and challenging breaks. These beaches provide the perfect setting for advanced surfers to showcase their skills and ride the thrilling waves of Monterey.

If you’re new to surfing or just starting out, Monterey State Beach is an ideal choice. Its gentle waves and calm conditions make it the perfect spot for beginners to learn and practice their surfing skills in a safe environment.

Surfing in Monterey is more than just a sport; it’s an exhilarating experience that allows you to connect with the power of the ocean and the beauty of nature. Paddle out, catch some epic waves, and feel the rush of adrenaline as you ride along the sparkling waters of Monterey.

Tips for Surfing in Monterey:

  • Check the surf forecast for Monterey to ensure optimal wave conditions.
  • Wear a wetsuit due to the colder water temperatures in Monterey.
  • Respect the local surfing etiquette and give priority to more experienced surfers.
  • Consider taking a surfing lesson or joining a local surf club to improve your skills.
  • Always be mindful of your surroundings and practice ocean safety.

“Surfing is not just a sport; it’s a way of life. Monterey offers a diverse range of surf breaks that suit every surfer’s style and ability.” – Anonymous Surfer

Surfing Spot Skill Level Wave Type
Asilomar State Beach Experienced Powerful Waves
Carmel Beach Experienced Hollow Waves
Monterey State Beach Beginner Gentle Waves

Discover the Best of Monterey

Monterey, California, is not only known for its stunning coastal views and outdoor adventures but also offers a plethora of attractions and places of interest. In addition to the specific activities mentioned earlier, there are more exciting things to do in Monterey that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages.

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where you can hike along scenic trails and witness picturesque vistas. The reserve is home to abundant wildlife, including sea otters, harbor seals, and a variety of bird species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.

If you have a passion for art, head to the Monterey Museum of Art to explore the works of renowned California artists. From contemporary pieces to classic masterpieces, the museum showcases a diverse collection that highlights the rich artistic heritage of the region.

For a dose of retail therapy, make your way to Cannery Row and Old Fisherman’s Wharf. These bustling areas are not only perfect for shopping but also offer a vibrant atmosphere with numerous dining options and live entertainment. Indulge in delectable seafood, browse through unique boutiques, and soak up the lively ambiance.

No visit to Monterey is complete without experiencing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This protected area is home to an incredible variety of marine life, including sea otters, seals, dolphins, and whales. Take a boat tour or engage in snorkeling and diving activities to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.

With its blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and endless entertainment options, Monterey is truly a destination that has it all. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, art appreciation, or simply want to unwind by the coast, Monterey offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you wanting more.


What are some top things to do in Monterey?

Some top things to do in Monterey include exploring the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, going whale watching, visiting Cannery Row, strolling along Old Fisherman’s Wharf, taking the 17-Mile Drive, and going surfing.

What can I expect to see and do along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail?

Along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, you can enjoy stunning views of the coastline, walk or bike along the trail, and stop at various dining options along the way.

Where can I go whale watching in Monterey?

There are several tour companies in Monterey that offer guided whale watching tours. Some common sightings include gray whales, humpback whales, blue whales, dolphins, and sea lions.

What is there to do in Cannery Row?

Cannery Row is a vibrant street in Monterey that features shops, galleries, and restaurants. You can explore historic cannery buildings, enjoy delicious seafood, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this iconic street.

What can I do at Old Fisherman’s Wharf?

At Old Fisherman’s Wharf, you can leisurely stroll along the waterfront, dine on fresh seafood, take glass-bottom boat tours, and enjoy breathtaking views of the harbor.

What is the 17-Mile Drive?

The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic route along the Monterey Bay Peninsula that offers breathtaking views of the coastline. Highlights include the Lone Cypress and Crocker Grove, home to ancient cypress trees.

Where are the best surfing spots in Monterey?

Monterey offers several renowned surfing spots for all skill levels. Asilomar State Beach and Carmel Beach are great for experienced surfers, while Monterey State Beach is popular for beginners.

What other attractions and places of interest are there in Monterey?

In addition to the mentioned activities, you can explore Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, visit the Monterey Museum of Art, shop at Cannery Row and Old Fisherman’s Wharf, and explore the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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