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Monterey Tourist Attractions

Monterey, California Attractions

So many things to do, so little time. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row are among Monterey's most popular tourist attractions – offering visitors outdoor recreation, fine dining, great sightseeing, unique shopping, and exciting nightlife. 

For the more adventurous, you can rent a kayak at Lovers Point (Pacific Grove) for an up-close and personal experience with the Monterey Bay or stay dry and bicycle, roller skate, or walk along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.  This well-manicured, multiuse trail is part of a network that runs from Marina to Pacific Grove.  All along the route, there are plenty of benches for the leisurely sightseer to rest and enjoy the sweeping ocean views.

17 Mile Drive – Pacific Grove to Carmel

Plan 1-2 hours for this amazing drive as you travel by beautiful vistas of the Pacific Ocean, grand houses, and world-renowned golf courses.  The trip connects Pacific Grove to Carmel-by-the-Sea.   They do charge a $10 fee for cars!  Save the cost and enjoy more by walking or riding a bike.

Big Sur –  south of Carmel on Hwy. 1

The wonderful drive boasts some of the most beautiful ocean and mountain views that California has to offer.  Once in Big Sur, enjoy a fine meal at several area restaurants, take in the wildflowers on a walk/hike in one of the State Parks, or sun bathe on one of the area's pristine beaches.

Cannery Row – Monterey

Cannery Row is Monterey's most popular vacation destination, offering visitors attractions, recreation, restaurants, convenient shopping & exciting nightlife.

Carmel Mission – Carmel

San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission: The Site of Carmel Mission Basilica and National Shrine of Blessed Junipero Serra

Fisherman's Wharf – Monterey

A visit to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula just isn't complete without a rendezvous with Old Fisherman's Wharf – a myriad of great restaurants, seafood, unique shops, whale watching, fishing,  and bay cruises, theatre, and the sights and sounds of Monterey's past.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Salinas

1021 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Salinas, CA 93908

Museums and Historical Sites – Various locations

Various locations around Monterey, Pacific Grove and Salinas

Monterey Bay Aquarium – Monterey

886 Cannery Row Monterey, CA 93940  (831) 648-4800

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California offers visitors nearly 200 award-winning galleries and exhibits. Explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium web site to learn about ocean life, take a virtual tour of the aquarium or plan a visit.

Monterey Jazz Festival – Monterey

Held every September on the Monterey Fairgrounds site where the Festival was first presented in 1958, the Monterey Jazz Festival is dedicated to perpetuating the uniquely American form of music known as jazz by producing performances that celebrate the legacy and expand the boundaries of jazz.Monterey Jazz Festival  – Monterey

Monterey Maritime Museum  – Monterey

2011 5 Custom House Plaza, Monterey CA 93940

The Monterey History and Maritime Museum holds almost 6000 artifacts, over 50,000 photographs, and papers in the collection.

Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District  – Various locations

This website is also a portal to other public park and recreation related websites in the area and beyond.

Monterey State Historic Park  (Historic Adobes) –  Monterey

Memory Garden Custom House Plaza, Monterey  (831) 649-7118

Please note that due to State budget cutbacks, many of the free tours are limited or canceled.  Please check with the State Parks for the latest information.

Monterey State Historic Park is a collection of significant historic houses and buildings interspersed throughout Old Monterey. The inside of the Stevenson House, Larkin House, Cooper-Molera Adobe, and Casa Soberanes can ONLY be viewed with a State Park Guide. These four guided house tours, the Guided Walking Tour of Old Monterey, the Pacific House Museum and Custom House are all FREE.  Guided Walking Tours begin at the Pacific House Museum in Custom House Plaza – a great way to start your discovery of Monterey.

Be sure to pick up a map for the walking tour at the Custom House near the Fisherman's Wharf

Pacific Grove Downtown –  Pacific Grove

165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, CA  (831) 648-5716

In a setting of original Victorian buildings, Pacific Grove is home to many fine restaurants, unique boutiques and antique shops.

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History –  Pacific Grove

165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, CA  (831) 648-5716

The Pacific Grove Museum is your living personal field guide to the California Central Coast. Explore the birds and wildlife, plants, geology and cultural richness that make this region unique in the world.

Pebble Beach  

Located between Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pebble Beach Resorts, host of the 2010 U.S. Open, is comprised of three hotels: The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, and Casa Palmero; four golf courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, and Del Monte Golf Course; and the recently opened Spa at Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach Golf Links has played host to 10 USGA championships since opening in 1919 and hosts the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament. U.S. Open Champions at Pebble Beach are among the biggest names in golf, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Tiger Woods. Pebble Beach Resorts is proud to announce Pebble Beach Golf Links, site of Tiger Woods' historic win at the 2000 U.S. Open Championship, will once again host the championship in 2010."

Point Lobos State Reserve

Located three miles south of Carmel on Highway 1   (831) 624-4909
Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the Reserve has often been called "the crown jewel of the State Park System." Point Lobos has offered many things to millions of people who have visited it over the years. Point Lobos State Reserve has outstanding passive recreation values, such as sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging.

Point Piños Lighthouse –  between Pacific Grove and Carmel

Asilomar Avenue, just north of the intersection with Lighthouse Ave.    (831) 648-3176

Point Pinos is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. Since February 1, 1855, its beacon has flashed nightly as a guide and warning to shipping off the rocky California coast.

San Carlos Cathedral –  San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey

500 Church St., Monterey, CA  (831) 624-3600

San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey was founded by Father Junipero Serra on June 3, 1770, on the shores of Monterey Bay, as the cornerstone of his Mission. A year later, Fr. Serra moved the Mission to Carmel.

National Steinbeck Center

One Main Street Salinas, CA      (831) 796-3833

The Center is located in John Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas, California, a scenic 17-mile drive from Monterey in the heart of Steinbeck Country. The Museum offers three distinct visitor experiences in literature and history, agriculture and art, as well special events and educational programs. 

 

Monterey County Wineries >>

 

 

What’s on Tap

Events

Monterey Festivals & Events:

Pacific Grove Butterfly Days – Oct. 6, 7 & 8 2017

Parade, bazaar, special events at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

Annual Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza! – Oct. 8, 2017

Capitola Wharf, Capitola, CA

Monterey Pumpkin Patches—Oct. 2017

Whale Watching – Dec. through May

 

For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Monterey.

 

Attractions

Top Attractions:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Aquarium is your window to marine life in the Monterey Bay!

Cannery Row

Historic Cannery Row is great destination for hotels, shopping, dining, and, oh, yes, the Aquarium!

Monterey Fishing

Fall is fishing and crabbing season!

Kayaking and SCUBA Diving

The rocky bottom around Monterey make it perfect for ocean adventures!

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May

Golfing

Pebble Beach…need I say more.

 

For more information on local attractions, click on the Attractions or Recreational Activities.

 

 

Advisories

Monterey’s Summer Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. Rush hour traffic can be extremely challenging – especially on Highway 1 between Seaside and Monterey. Also, 68 between Highway 1 and 101 can be extremely slow. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to www.caltrans.com to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.

Carmel Valley and Big Sur have major wildfires. Authorities expect them to burn through the end of August! Google for the latest news.