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 >>.
Weather (When To Go)
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.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is a nonprofit public aquarium known for its regional focus on the marine habitats of Monterey Bay. It was the first to exhibit a living kelp forest when it opened in October 1984. Its biologists have pioneered the animal husbandry of jellyfish and it was the first to successfully care for and display a great white shark. The organization’s research and conservation efforts also focus on sea otters, various birds, and tunas.
Tracing the rugged Pacific coastline, the 17-Mile Drive isn’t just a road. The route offers breathtaking views of the ocean, hugging the Pacific coastline as it weaves through the Del Monte Forest. You can experience the natural wonders of Monterey and marvel at the multi-million-dollar homes along the coast. It is highly recommended to get out of your vehicle and park at the marked points of interest along the 17-Mile Drive. Don’t miss getting a picture of the Lone Cypress, or taking a short stroll along the wooden paths that line the shores of Spanish Bay.
With its picturesque charm and colorful history, Cannery Row captivates visitors from all over the world. The unique appeal of this fabled street is what makes Cannery Row the most popular vacation destination on California’s Central Coast. With luxurious waterfront hotels, enticing restaurants and captivating boutiques, Cannery Row is the ideal place to soak up the culture and beauty of Monterey Bay.
Old Monterey is home to an extraordinary assemblage of 19th-century brick and adobe buildings, administered as Monterey State Historic Park and all found along a 2-mile self-guided walking tour portentously called the ‘Path of History.’ You can inspect dozens of buildings, many with charming gardens; expect some to be open while others not, according to a capricious schedule dictated by unfortunate state-park budget cutbacks.
Located south of Monterey and Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a humble seaside village with a few small shops and cafes — at least that’s the cover story. In truth, this pricey town has plenty of designer stores, gourmet eateries and upscale art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents (like Clint Eastwood). You’ll find most shoppers and diners around picturesque Ocean Avenue, which leads to Carmel Beach.
Things To Do
Original sea kayaking and stand up paddle outfitter offering eco-guided natural history tours, rentals, classes and retail sales of kayaking related gear and casual beach items. Two great paddling destinations right on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary where kayaks are waiting for you on the beach. We include everything you need for a day on the water of fun, exercise and wildlife viewing. Visit with marine mammals like sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, shorebirds and enjoy the beauty of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For more information call (831) 373-5357, or visit them on the web at Monterey Bay Kayaks.
Fast Raft Ocean Safaris are a fun and exciting way to explore the beautiful Monterey Bay Sanctuary! Their low to the water boat, Ranger is comfortable and highly maneuverable, offering an incredible perspective of ocean wildlife and beautiful coastal scenery. With a maximum of six passengers, each Eco-Tour is custom designed to the unique desires of their guests. For more information call (831) 324-4883, or visit them on the web at Fast Raft Ocean Safaris.
47’Luxury Italian Racer Cruiser sailing yacht for your personal and intimate pleasure for sailing the beautiful Monterey Bay Sanctuary. Perfect for a couples get away on the water, or for family and friends to enjoy being on the Monterey Bay Sanctuary without the crowds of the commercial boats. Bring your own snacks, beer,wine to enjoy for the trip. Bella has all the glasses and things you may need for your goodies. Beautiful coast lines and lots of marine life to enjoy. I keep her stocked with plenty of extra jackets, blankets and pillows so if you need extra to be warm and cozy. Best times for sailing is going to be in the early afternoon and any times are available as long as Bella is not already booked. For more information call (831) 822-2390, or visit them on the web at Bella On The Bay.
Teaching surfing in Carmel, Monterey and Pacific Grove since 1986, professional instruction, professional grade gear. Trusted by all three surf shops on the Monterey Peninsula. Parties, groups and privates lessons offered almost daily all year around. All equipment included all ages and abilities welcome. For more information call (831) 915-4065, or visit them on the web at Carmel Surf Lessons.
Whether as an individual, family, group charter, corporate event, or just plain fun – there is something for everyone. A day from which wonderful memories and tales are made! Our daily fishing trips depart from Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf. For more information call (831) 372-7440, or visit them on the web at Discovery Whale Watch.
Best Rated Area Restaurants
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$$ – $$$ Restaurant 1833
Restaurant 1833 is a vintage chic dining space. Thoughtful food and drink are served in an historic location that comes complete with a hint of haunting. Guests dine in one of seven distinct rooms decked with detailed furnishings and fixtures, including a library, sun room, and fireside patio. Dishes range from oysters on the half shell and oozing warm artichoke dip to wood-fired pizzas and tri-tip with tempura maitake mushrooms and roasted butternut squash, while the beautiful bar serves classic and specialty cocktails, alongside a lengthy list of wines. For more information call (831) 643-1833, or visit them on the web at Restaurant 1833.
$$ – $$$ Sandbar & Grill
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. For more information call (831) 373-2818, or visit them on the web at Sandbar & Grill.
$$ – $$$ Cultura
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. For more information call (831) 250-7005, or visit them on the web at Cultura.
$$$$ La Balena
Don’t be fooled by the inconspicuous location and worn-in appearance of this family-run restaurant. The minimal decor and straight-forward use of simple, fresh ingredients are intentional, and resemble the classic osterias of Chef Emanuele Bartolini’s hometown of Florence. Menu highlights include tender grilled octopus, crispy fried chicken, hand-made gnocchi, and addictive chili-infused fried cauliflower. The extensive wine list features small producers and highlights female winemakers, as well as organic and biodynamic wineries. Though open for lunch, the space comes alive in the evening, when a bubbling fountain and soft twinkle lights set a romantic Old World mood on the front and back patios. Reservations recommended. For more information call (831) 250-6295, or visit them on the web at La Balena.
$$ – $$$ Il Tegamino
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 little fried meatballs, perfect for a foggy Carmel evening under the heat lamps. For more information call (831) 250-5790, or visit them on the web at Il Tegamino.
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. For more information call (831) 643-2722, or visit them on the web at Cannery Row Brewing Company.
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. For more information call (831) 655-2337, or visit them on the web at Alvarado Street Brewing & Grill.
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. For more information call (831) 656-9543, or visit them on the web at Britannia Arms.
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. For more information call (831) 655-3031, or visit them on the web at Bull & Bear Whiskey Bar & Taphouse.
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. For more information call (831) , or visit them on the web at Crown & Anchor Pub.
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. From our chef-driven oceanfront restaurant, award-winning rooftop luxury spa and prime location steps from charming Cannery Row, this elegant oceanfront hotel is the centerpiece of Monterey Bay. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.
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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit InterContinental The Clement Monterey.
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. Savor season fresh entrées, appetizers and desserts at the award-winning Sardine Factory. Take in panoramic vistas of the Monterey Bay from the hidden roof top garden, or soothe with a relaxing in-room massage. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Spindrift Inn.
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. Our guestrooms make you feel at home with cozy fireplaces, Italian linens, beverage coolers, and balconies. Stay on task with services in our business hub, or host your own catered event. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hotel Abrego.
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. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row’s shopping and dining are just a few short blocks away from our pet friendly hotel. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Best Western Plus Victorian Inn.