Monterey Bay is California in microcosm. Here, you can experience the best the Golden State has to offer—without the big-city crowds and complications.
The best days in Monterey are spent in the water. Dive into a kelp forest. Explore the scenic coastline on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Scout for migrating whales passing near the shores.
The idyllic village of Carmel possesses seaside charm. From white-sand beaches to luxurious hotels, it promises a refined, high-class vacation bursting with art galleries and tasting rooms. Nearby Pebble Beach offers world-class golfing and stunning scenery.
Not far away, excursions range from quirky beach town Santa Cruz to opulent Hearst Castle. Big Sur is the region’s most dramatic stretch of coastline, and the perfect geography for an unforgettable road trip.
Monterey Bay is not just a collision of land and sea, but also a juxtaposition of jarring colors and symbiotic ecosystems. From world-class wines and fine foods to a wonderland of marine life, Monterey encapsulates the California dream.
10 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Monterey Bay Aquarium: See the marine habitats and sea creatures of the Monterey Bay at this artfully done aquarium
2 Whale-Watching: Spy humpbacks, blue whales, and gray whales as they migrate through Monterey Bay.
3 Walk Through History: Monterey and Carmel are some of California’s most historic cities. Wander into old adobes from the Mexican and early American eras at the Monterey State Historic Park,then go admire the gilded altar and verdant grounds at Carmel Mission.
4 Kayak the Coast: Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore Monterey Bay. Not ready to go off on your own? Book a tour from Cannery Row.
5 Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: This throwback amusement park set right on the beach thrills summer lovers with its wooden roller coaster, rides and arcades, and live concerts.
6 Surf Santa Cruz: Try out your surfing skills at superb surf breaks like Steamer Lane and Cowell’s Beach
7 Wine-Tasting: Monterey County is great for growing grapes. The Carmel and Salinas Valleys offer casual tasting rooms, while Carmel-by-the-Sea has almost 20 tasting rooms within a few-block radius.
8 Cruise the Big Sur Coast Highway: An unforgettable drive, this twisty, two-lane highway offers a scrapbook worth of postcard-perfect views
9 Hike in Big Sur: Big Sur has some of the state’s best and most varied hiking. Walk through coast redwood forests, hike to stunning waterfalls, and discover pristine seashores
10 Tour Hearst Castle: Explore the opulence of another era with a guided tour of the hilltop estate of William Randolph Hearst