Monterey California Visitors Guide

Monterey Bay travel is truly all about the ocean; the seaside town, which is located on central California’s Pacific coast, is the home of one of America’s premier aquariums. Indeed, many tourists travel to Monterey Bay solely to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where visitors can view an impressive array of sea life, including stingray, jellyfish, sea otter, seals, sea lion, dolphin, and blue fin and yellow fin tuna exhibits.  The aquarium overlooks Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which protects dense kelp forests and a sublime variety of marine life, including seals and sea lions, dolphins and whales. The city itself possesses the best-preserved historical evidence of California’s Spanish and Mexican periods, with many restored adobe buildings. An afternoon’s wander through downtown’s historic quarter promises to be more edifying than time spent in the tourist ghettos of Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row.

Monterey’s activities and museums like the Monterey Museum of Art will keep you busy from the moment you get up in the morning until you rest your head at night.  Take advantage of Monterey’s beautiful weather and walk the Path of History where you can experience what life was like when Monterey’s served as California’s capital. Or stroll among the city’s wine tasting rooms or along the glorious beaches.  Avid shoppers can find antiques in New Monterey, unique boutiques on Cannery Row and among the historic buildings in Old Monterey.  It is easy to understand why Monterey California Tourism is not a hard sell!  For a list of all the area beaches << Click Here >>.  Our Monterey Visitors Guide will help you plan a great vacation here.  Keep reading!

Monterey Weather (When To Visit)

The best time to visit Monterey is between April and May. Spring offers warmer temperatures, fewer crowds and food festivals dishing out delectable eats, including Pebble Beach Food & Wine and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville. Summer is the most popular time to visit the Monterey Peninsula, but Monterey can still be chilly. Located right on the ocean, the region experiences bitter winds, so bring a sweater regardless of the season. Fall is another good time to visit, but the likelihood of rain increases starting in October. Monterey’s central California location subjects it to mild temperatures during the winter, with the average low reaching 48 degrees. Winter also brings lower hotel prices and the celebrity-heavy AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am event held in February, making Monterey an attractive destination year-round.

Best Monterey Area Beaches

Del Monte  Beach, Monterey California, Monterey California tourism, Monterey beaches, Central California beaches, best beaches in California, beach travel, beach travel destinations, things to do in Monterey, best hotels in Monterey, best restaurans in Monterey, best bars in MontereyDel Monte Beach

Del Monte Beach is a hidden gem known to Monterey Bay locals. There is a boardwalk trail through the dunes with benches and picnic tables to rest on. Del Monte is between two sections of Monterey State Beach, Window on the Bay Beach, walking distance to the south, and Houghton M. Roberts Beach, a short beach walk north.

.

McAbee Beach, Monterey California, Monterey California tourism, Monterey beaches, Central California beaches, best beaches in California, beach travel, beach travel destinations, things to do in Monterey, best hotels in Monterey, best restaurans in Monterey, best bars in MontereyMcAbee Beach

At high tide it’s a small cove with smooth boulders and just enough sand to be called a beach. At lower tides and in the summer months there is more sand to enjoy. The beach is in the shadow of restaurants and hotels, but is still a scenic spot. On sunny days if you are just walking around and shopping on the waterfront, it is worth a stop to sit on the rocks behind the beach.

.

.

Monterey Municipal Beach, Monterey California, Monterey California tourism, Monterey beaches, Central California beaches, best beaches in California, beach travel, beach travel destinations, things to do in Monterey, best hotels in Monterey, best restaurans in Monterey, best bars in MontereyMonterey Municipal Beach

This is probably the busiest sandy beach in the city. The beach here is north facing and somewhat protected by the pier so it is safer for swimming. Next door to the north is Monterey Bay Waterfront Park with volleyball courts and grass areas.

.

.

Roberts Beach, Monterey California, Monterey California tourism, Monterey beaches, Central California beaches, best beaches in California, beach travel, beach travel destinations, things to do in Monterey, best hotels in Monterey, best restaurans in Monterey, best bars in MontereyRoberts Beach

This beach is an excellent spot to relax or walk at the edge of the water, but swimming here can be dangerous due to rip currents. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail meanders through the dunes in this park.

.

.

.

San Carlos Beach, Monterey California, Monterey California tourism, Monterey beaches, Central California beaches, best beaches in California, beach travel, beach travel destinations, things to do in Monterey, best hotels in Monterey, best restaurans in Monterey, best bars in MontereySan Carlos Beach

San Carlos Beach is known for scuba diving not sunbathing, but it’s a great place to visit on a sunny day. You can choose from grass lawns, sandy beaches, or benches and picnic tables to rest on.

.

.

.

.

Windows on the Bay Beach, Monterey California, Monterey California tourism, Monterey beaches, Central California beaches, best beaches in California, beach travel, beach travel destinations, things to do in Monterey, best hotels in Monterey, best restaurans in Monterey, best bars in MontereyWindow on the Bay Beach

Window on the Bay Beach (aka Windows Beach) is the southernmost of three separate sections of Monterey State Beach. This state-owned beach is in front of the nicely landscaped city-owned and operated Monterey Bay Waterfront Park.

.

.

Best Monterey Tours & Activities

Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive – Full Day Tour

Drive down one of the most scenic roads in California on this full-day tour from San Francisco. Cruise along the coast-hugging Highway 1, passing the mansions of Pebble Beach on the iconic 17-Mile Drive. Enjoy free time to explore Monterey, where you can stroll down Steinbeck’s Cannery Row or visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Browse the ritzy boutiques of Carmel-by-the-Sea and get a glimpse of Silicon Valley’s tech campuses on the return drive to San Francisco.  Learn more abou the Monterey, Carmel & 17-Mile Drive Full Day Tour.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Admission

Discover the fascinating underwater world of one of the United States’ top aquariums with this Monterey Bay Aquarium ticket. With a prime location on California’s Pacific coast, this renowned marine center is home to a wide variety of ocean life, from mesmerizing jellyfish to adorable penguins, plus crowd favorites like sharks and rays. Enjoy all-day access to the many exhibits, where you can observe mysterious octopus, playful sea otters, creepy eels and more.  Learn more about the Monterey Bay Aquarium  Admission.

Half-Day Whale Watching

Look for whales as they migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of California on this half-day whale-watching cruise from Monterey. Your naturalist guide shares commentary about the whales and their habitat as you search for gray whales (most common), humpback and blue whales, and other marine life such as dolphins and sea lions during your cruise. Get tips for great photo ops and learn all about the mighty creatures at one of California’s most famous whale-watching destinations.  Learn more about the Half-Day Whale Watching Tour.

Golden Gate Park Segway Tour with the Exclusive Park Tour Co

Explore San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park on this 2.5-hour Segway tour. Led by a local guide, you’ll pass top attractions like the Japanese Tea Gardens, the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. All equipment is included, as well as a safety training. Cover even more ground on a Segway as you soak up Golden Gate Park’s rich history and hidden gems from your guide.  Learn more about the Golden Gate Park Segwey Tour.

Old Monterey Walking Food Tour

Follow a delicious trail of local treats through historic Monterey on a small-group food tour that includes plenty of tastings for a full lunch. Committing to lunch at a single restaurant means missing out on the diverse cuisines that make Monterey food so interesting; try a little bit of everything as you go from neighborhood restaurants to frozen treats and California wine, learning about Monterey history along the way.  Learn more about the Old Monterey Walking Food Tour.

Best Monterey Restaurants

Cafe Lumiere  $11 – 30

Adjoining Monterey’s Osio Theater, this hipster-friendly cafe and coffee shop offers affordable made-from-scratch pastries, fresh salads and sandwiches, and truly beautiful weekday breakfast and Sunday brunch, including fluffy omelets, avocado toast, and breakfast sandwiches composed on croissant. Ground-level and balcony seating provide ample space to sip an espresso, nibble on a scone, or down an egg-filled Garden Goat burrito.  Telephone:  831 920-2451  Web:  Cafe Lumiere

Sandbar & Grill  $11 – 30

Watch otters play outside the bay-view windows at this floating seafood kitchen on the wharf. Stick with the classics like creamy clam chowder, grilled sand dabs and jumbo crab-club sandwiches. Reservations strongly recommended. Ring the bell to let them know you’ve arrived.  Telephone:  831 373-2818  Web:  Sandbar & Grill.

Cultura  $11 – 30

This Oaxacan-inspired restaurant includes a dining room, lounge, and outdoor fire pits. Cultura offers a seasonal menu of fresh, artistic dishes that range from $4 street tacos to $95 Wagyu ribeye. The full bar features a hand-picked selection of mezcals, offered on their own or in flights of three, along with traditional chapulines (grasshoppers), local orange slices, and sal de gusano (worm salt). Lunch and late-night menus available.  Telephone:  831 250-7005  Web:  Cultura.

La Balena  $31 – 60

Menu highlights include tender grilled octopus, crispy fried chicken, hand-made gnocchi, and addictive chili-infused fried cauliflower. The extensive wine list features small producers and highlights female winemakers, as well as organic and biodynamic wineries. Though open for lunch, the space comes alive in the evening, when a bubbling fountain and soft twinkle lights set a romantic Old World mood on the front and back patios. Reservations recommended.  Telephone:  831 250-6295  Web:  La Balena.

Il Tegamino  $11 – 30

A romantic, off-the-beaten-path restaurant, with a generous patio. Stop in (no reservations are taken) for dinner with a very European feel, from the space itself to the menu of Italian comfort food. Lasagna Di Carnevale offers layers of fresh pasta with ricotta, tomato sauce, parmesean, sliced hard boiled eggs, mozerella and fried meatballs, perfect for a foggy Carmel evening under the heat lamps.  Telephone:  831 250-5790  Web:  Il Tegamino.

Best Monterey Bars

Cannery Row Brewing Company

Sports bar meets brewpub in this family-friendly tap house where over 70 draft beers outnumber bottles three-to-one. Vintage beer paraphernalia and nostalgic neon signs hang on exposed brick walls of what was once a bustling cannery and is now a drinking destination that blasts the best of the 90’s. The sizable menu leans heavily toward comfort, and features a short rib grilled cheese, house made pastrami, a trio of sliders, and a parmesean pretzel large enough to serve as an entree.  Telephone:  831 643-2722 Web:  Cannery Row Brewing Company.

Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill

Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill is a local craft brewery and restaurant serving 20 draft beers, with tasty bar food in an historic space with an industrial feel. The full menu offers diverse but straight-forward options of the flatbread, pasta, and steak skewer variety, while the latticed outdoor beer garden serves a short menu of finger-foods, including dry-rubbed chicken wings and grilled fish tacos. Fan favorite IPA’s, kettle sours, and lagers are served all day with 3-6 pm happy hour all week long.   Telephone:  831 655-2337 Web:  Alvarado Street Brewing & Grill.

Britannia Arms

A cornerstone of Alvarado Street nightlife, The Brit – as it is affectionately called by its patrons – is a corner pub and sports bar by day and an entertainment center by night. With friendly wait and bar staff, a menu of classic pub grub, and a kitchen that stays open until 11 pm, you might be surprised to see this place transform into a trivia hall, karaoke bar, or dance floor when the sun goes down. Whether its trivia, sports, dancing, food, or karaoke, Britannia Arms of Monterey has got you covered.  Telephone:  831 656-9543 Web:  Britannia Arms.

Bull & Bear Whiskey Bar & Taphouse

The Bull and Bear boasts indoor and outdoor bars, a back patio for live music and a fire pit, this is a fun place to grab a drink and unwind, or to come out and dance. Located on Alvarado Street, as many of these bars are, the Bull and Bear is a real gem in the heart of Downtown Monterey.  Telephone:  831 655-3031 Web:  Bull & Bear Whiskey Bar & Taphouse.

Crown & Anchor Pub

A downtown British pub, Crown & Anchor neighbors the Bull and Bear and Britannia Arms on nearby Franklin Street. With walls covered in nautical themed memorabilia, the Crown offers an underground central bar, surrounded by barstools and booths, with additional outdoor seating. Grab a bite to eat, or a delicious drink.  Telephone:  831 649-6496 Web:  Crown & Anchor Pub.

Best Monterey Hotels

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa


Perched dramatically on historic beachfront property above the crashing surf of the Pacific, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa delights its guests with classic, California coastal experiences animated by an irresistible spirit of conviviality and play. Here you’ll be welcomed with warm hospitality and elegantly-appointed guest rooms with thoughtful extras and luxury touches.

InterContinental The Clement Monterey


Enjoy panoramic ocean views and radiant sunrises on beautiful Monterey Bay. Overlooking the sapphire waters of Monterey Bay on Cannery Row, this waterfront hotel, resort and spa is where beauty and luxury indulge your senses. Whether you are planning a family vacation, romantic getaway, or special event, InterContinental, the Clement Monterey is an inspiring Monterey Bay hotel with urban energy, modern luxury, and coastal charm.

Spindrift Inn


At the Spindrift Inn, you’ll find European-style charm on the shores of McAbee Beach right along the bay. Plan an ocean view weekend escape on scenic Monterey Bay and discover why TripAdvisor travelers named us the most romantic hotel in the country. Accommodations feature canopy beds with plush feather bedding, hardwood floors, and marble bathrooms with Aveda bath products. Wake up to complimentary breakfast, delivered on a silver tray right to your room.

Hotel Abrego


Hotel Abrego is conveniently located near the busy shops, boutiques, museums and restaurants of historic downtown Monterey. Explore local wineries, sandy beaches, take in scenic vistas along 17-Mile Drive, or relieve the stresses of the day with a massage in the comfort of your room. Our own Bistro Abrego serves up locally sourced fresh seafood dishes and morning favorites for breakfast.

Best Western Plus Victorian Inn


Relax in one of our spacious Monterey hotel rooms, which features a marble fireplace, 42-inch flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi and one king or two double beds. Complimentary Monterey County wine and a selection of cheeses are served in the parlor every afternoon.  Enjoy the fresh coastal air from your private patio, balcony or window seat overlooking Cannery Row or our lovely garden courtyards.

36 Comments

  1. Mike

    There’s so much great information here! Thanks for sharing, my wife and I are thinking about spending some time in the US in the next couple of years so I know where to go for information.

    What would the weather be like June-August?

    That 17-mile drive looks incredible, is it possible to run along it (not the whole way!!) or cycle along?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you find my site informative and with what you need to plan your trip to the U.S. June – August in Monterey is going to be pleasant but not hot as it is on the coast. The temperatures are going to be in the mid to upper 60s. Yes, you can bike and run on the 17-mile drive. Vehicles going on the route pay $10.25 per car, and motorcycles are not allowed. But bikes and on foot is free 🙂 Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

      Reply
  2. suzanne

    Hi Leahrae,

    Wow, every time I read another post, I add to my bucket list, lol.

    This looks like an amazing place. I especially love all the historical areas.

    Do you know if there are any RV camping sites in the area? Being from Canada, I’d love for us to pull our trailer down along the cost and make frequent stops.

    Cheers,
    Suzanne

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh my goodness Suzanne, there are plenty of camping sites in Monterey. You will not have to worry about that, and how fun to motor down from Canada. I used to live in Alaska, so the scenery is amazing just as in Canada. Both California and Canada are so different, yet what a great way to enjoy! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  3. Garen

    California is certainly one of my favorites states to visit. There is always so much to do there. Sea lions are amazing in person, though. They are actually very playful and fun animals to watch.

    The aquarium looks like something I would certainly like to do. However, I would like to check out their gift shop if they have one, too. Do you happen to know if they have one, though?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Garen, I would agree that California is probably one of the best states, next to Florida that is 🙂 Yes, you will find a gift shop at the Aquarium with plenty of items to take home 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Monterey California Tourism.

      Reply
  4. Kahlua Darin

    Wow, this looks awesome. Everything is so pretty. I am ready to head to Monterey now, and everything I need to start planning is right here! Have you been? -Kahlua

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is beautiful in Monterey and of course I have been. I love California. Probably one of my favorite states besides Florida and Texas 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Beach Travel Destinations.

      Reply
  5. sonia

    This looks like a great place to visit in California. I never heard of this place it before. Simply by reading this article, it looks like there is so much to do and so many places to visit in Monterey. Thank you for all the great information you provided throughout this article. It makes me eager to visit it one day.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I hope you can visit one day soon Sonia. California is wonderful, especially the central coast. Thanks for visiting Monterey California Tourism!

      Reply
  6. Miranda

    Great article, so much information! I was so surprised by all the options to choose from. My boyfriend and I have been wanting to visit Cali and this might definitely be a place we stop by at. The “fast raft ocean safari” is my kind of scene.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is really a great coastal vacation destination with everything from beaches, to adventure, to beautiful surroundings. I hope you can make it soon!

      Reply
  7. Richard

    Fantastic Article, it was only when I reached the bit about the 17 mile coastal drive and Carmel that I realised had visited the area a few years ago. I can concur that these were beautiful places to visit and next time I plan on visiting California I will be sure to check out your website for more detailed information on the area.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Ok Richard sounds like a good deal! When you are ready to visit, and need any help planning, I am here to help! Thanks for visiting Beach Travel Destinations.

      Reply
  8. Chris

    Hi Leahrea

    I must say, every post you write is brilliant, you share so much information on all the destination your write about and I would advise anyone to visit your website before they book any holiday.
    I have visited your website several times and I have added it to my favourites for future holidays, not only are your reviews great, its all the ideas and advice you give regarding the destinations.

    I have never been to the States, this is something I would love to do, and Califonia would be top of my wish list.

    Chris

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      If you have not been to the U.S., then California and Florida are both the top places to go, especially if you love being on the coast. I am glad you enjoy visiting beach travel destinations. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  9. Lane Onson

    This is nice. I went to California years ago and didn’t really have too much of a desire to go back. Later, I wanted to visit San Francisco and San Diego. I need to be near the beach.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Then you will absolutely love this area. San Francisco gets a bit windy and cold for me…I’m from Florida. And I love San Diego, but the beach is where I belong. You get it all in Monterey!

      Reply
  10. Willem Jim Kulk

    Boy how I’d love to visit California. It’s been a dream of mine for many years. Thank you for you very informative post. You have covered just about everything from sites to see, restaurants to visit through to accommondation. I’ll just have to go through it carefully and plan my holiday. Jim

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Ok Jim, and please let me know if you need any other questions answered to help with your vacation planning. Thanks for stopping by beach travel destinations.com.

      Reply
  11. heather

    Monterey, California is hands down, one of my favorite places to vacation, I just love it. I really liked the description of Bella On The Bay. I think the next time I stay I would do this. I mean come on a 47’Luxury Italian Racer Cruiser yours for the day, sounds incredible. Can you stay overnight on a boat like this or is it merely for the day?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I do believe that they have overnight trips as well. I would check on their website to make sure, but that would be so much fun! Thanks for stopping by and visiting Monterey California Tourism.

      Reply
  12. Carole

    Wow this place look like paradise on earth. I was looking at the best time to visit and it happens to be the time I am taking my vacation. I will bookmark your site as I have not yet decided where to go. This might be the perfect place! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I think that Monterey California Tourism has it all! You will absolutely love the area. Please let me know if you need any additional information to help with your planning 🙂

      Reply
  13. Daniella

    Hi Leahrae,

    Awesome article!
    I have visited many places in California, but Monterey, not yet. Just by watching the video, it makes me want to go there. I’ll show this place to my husband and my children so we can decide and plan together our next trip:) Just a question, please. How would be the way to get there from Europe?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Boy, Europe is a lot of country 🙂 What ever part of Europe you are in, you will just want to fly to Los Angeles, California. That will be the most economical airport to fly into. It is going to take give or take 12 hours to get there. If you decide to go and need any help with planning your trip to Monterey, please let me know!

      Reply
  14. Mick Krug

    I have always wanted to visit the Monterey Peninsula there in California. There is so much to see and do there. A must do is the 17 mile drive! It sounds like a great excursion and one will want to bring the camera. Another great video which really makes one want to back the bags and go!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I agree, that you must do the 17-mile Drive….absolutely breathtaking…and yes the camera is a must! Glad you enjoyed reading about Monterey California Tourism! Thanks for stopping by Mick!

      Reply
  15. Michelle

    Hello Leahrae,
    Thanks for such a concise article.I have hear of Monterey, California…and reading your article, it makes it feel like I have ‘been there’. Very nice. I think I would go for the loooong beach drive. I love Mother Nature. And the aquarium sounds right up my ‘alley’ too…and that of my daughter’s. We will be doing some travelling in a few months, so here goes another ‘to do’ for my list.
    Thanks and keep up the good job.
    Michelle

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Michelle for stopping by and taking the time to visit Beach Travel Destinations. I am glad you enjoyed visiting Monterey California Tourism.

      Reply
  16. Rob

    This looks like another excellent place to visit in California. I love the fact that these places are on th coast with such beautiful views. I always liked California and would love to see Monterey because it looks awesome and I’ve never been there before.
    It’s like one place is more beautiful than the next. Do you think it gets very crowded there and at what time of the year?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, another great California coastal destination 🙂 The best time to visit Monterey is between April and May. Spring offers warmer temperatures, fewer crowds and food festivals dishing out delectable eats, including Pebble Beach Food & Wine and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville. Thanks for stopping by Rob!

      Reply
  17. Montana

    WOW! What a beautiful place! We have driven down the Oregon Coast – but never far enough to get to California. This is definitely on the road trip list now! Thank you for your information!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      The drive along the California coast is so wonderful. I don’t think I could ever get tired of the scenery. And to me Central California has all of California beat, hands down. Thanks for stopping by Monterey California Tourism.

      Reply
  18. Todd Barnett

    Wow, Monterey looks great. I may have to put this on my list of vacation spots to check out. We love aquariums and beaches.

    I have never been to California. But it looks like there may be a first time.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      California is awesome! So many wonderful places, such beautiful coastline, and so much to do and see. And yes, their aquariums and beaches are both not to be missed! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Michelle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestCheck Our Feed