The city is known for its stunning scenery, rich history, and many attractions. It is most known for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and Fisherman's Wharf.
Interesting Fact: Monterey serviced as the State's capital during the Spanish, Mexican, and USA rules.
Monterey is also a gateway to the unparalleled beauty of Big Sur and other beach towns like Carmel, Santa Cruz, and Pacific Grove.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
There are 11 different exhibits to explore, including an interactive area for kids of all ages, called the splash zone.
Cannery Row is a waterfront street in Monterey, California. It was once home to a thriving sardine canning industry, but the canneries closed in the 1970s. Today, Cannery Row is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, and attractions.
Interesting Fact: Monterey is a popular destination for wine lovers, with several wineries located in the surrounding area.
The name Cannery Row comes from the fact that it was once lined with sardine canneries. The canneries were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and they helped to make Monterey a major fishing port.
Today, Cannery Row is a popular tourist destination for walking, biking, and people-watching. There are several benches and tables where visitors can sit and enjoy the view of the ocean.
The Wharf is a great place to enjoy seafood while observing the sea lions and otters from the windows.
It is also a launching pad for many Whale watching cruises and other boat excursions.
And of course, like any tourist attraction, you will find many gift and snack shops.
Also, across the wharf, you will find the Monterey State Historic Park and a small pedestrian-only mall.
I went to the Wharf for a whale-watching tour with Discovery Whale Watch during my visit.
I arrived early and went for breakfast and coffee at Crêpes of Brittany. After the cruise, I had a late lunch at the Crab House and enjoyed their Clam Chowder bowl with a salad. The meal came with a free order of Calamari, which was delicious.
Hiking and biking
The Monterey area has many walking, hiking, and biking trails, some with amazing ocean views.
Further away, you can enjoy unparalleled natural beauty in Pebble Beach, Garrapata State Park, Point Lobos, and Big Sur.
Monterey Bay Coastal trail
The trail starts in Castroville and ends in Pacific Grove. It passes through various landscapes, including beaches, dunes, forests, and wetlands. Along the way, you can see a variety of wildlife, including sea lions, seals, dolphins, and birds.
The trail passes through Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Although the trail ends at Lover's Point Park in Pacific Grove, you can extend your ride through the streets of Pacific Grove to connect to the Point Pinos Lighthouse and continue to the 17-mile Drive.
There are several benches and picnic tables along the trail where you can stop to rest and admire the views.
Point Lobos State Reserve
It is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including sea lions, seals, whales, dolphins, and more than 250 species of birds. The reserve is also popular for hiking, biking, and kayaking.
A 1.7-mile loop trail takes you past some of the reserve's most scenic spots, including Lobos Point, China Cove, and Point Lobos Arch.
If you follow the signs for Whalers Cabin Museum, you will reach Whalers Cove. The road dead ends at a parking lot and a restroom.
Interesting Fact: Monterey was the site of the first California mission, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, which was founded in 1771.
A stairway will take you to Blue Fish Cove Scenic View, which has a commanding view of two coves and wildflower-covered hills.
From there, you can connect to the North Shore Trail, which runs close to the shoreline with more amazing views.
A network of trails will connect you to more viewpoints like Cypress Grove, Sea Lion Point, China Cove, and Bird Island Lookout.
There is so much to see and do here that you need several days to experience it all.
But if you are limited in time, take a short 50-minute drive to this place, and try a few hikes. For a one-day visit, I recommend visiting McWay Falls and Partington Cove.
If you have more time, visit Pfeiffer Falls and Bixby Bridge.
Attractions and Adventures
It is a must-do for any visitor to the area, as it offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, world-renowned golf courses, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
The drive is seventeen miles (ca. 27 km) long, but it is best to allow at least 2–3 hours to complete it, as there are many stops that you will want to make along the way.
The 17-mile Drive is a truly unforgettable experience, and it will certainly leave you with lasting memories.
The 17-mile Drive is inside a private community, so a vehicle has an entrance fee of $12. Pedestrians and bikers can enter for free.
If you have a restaurant reservation, you can enter for free.
I recently went on an e-bike tour of the 17-mile drive with Big Sur Adventures and loved it.
They love the abundant marine life here, and they either live in the bay or they make it a stop on their migration route.
The best time to go whale watching in Monterey Bay is during the spring and fall when the whales are migrating, but you could find whales and dolphins anytime.
I went on a whale-watching tour with discovery tours in June, and we observed many dolphins and several gray, blue, and orca whales.
We also encountered Sail jellyfish, also called Velella velella.
Dennis The Menace Playground
This popular playground in Monterey, California, is named after the comic strip character. It is in the El Estero Park Complex, a 45-acre park with various amenities, including a lake, a paddle boat concession, a group BBQ picnic area, and an exercise course.
It features a variety of play structures, including a giant adventure ship, a climbing wall, a suspension bridge, and a hedge maze. There are also several slides, swings, and other traditional playground equipment.
Dennis the Menace Playground is a great place for families to spend a day of fun and adventure.
Lovers Point Park
Lover's Point Park has a large lawn, picnic tables, barbecue pits, and a children's swimming pool. The park also has a beach volleyball court and rocky outcrops.
The beach at Lover's Point Park is west facing, with a concrete wall and breakwater protecting it from the north. This makes it one of the few safe swimming beaches in the area. However, the water is cold year-round.
Point Pinos Lighthouse
The lighthouse was built in 1855 and was lit for the first time on February 1, 1855. The original lens is still in use today.
The lighthouse is 89 feet (ca. 27 m) tall and is made of brick. It has a square base and a cylindrical tower. The lighthouse is painted white with black trim.
Interesting Fact: The lighthouse has been used in several movies and television shows, including "The Birds" and "The X-Files."
The light is a third-order Fresnel lens that produces a 50,000-candlepower beam that can be seen for up to 17 miles (ca. 27 km).
Point Pinos Lighthouse is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can walk up to the lighthouse and climb to the top for panoramic views of Monterey Bay.
There is also a museum at the lighthouse that tells the history of the lighthouse and the surrounding area.
The lighthouse is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.