Monterey 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.
But Monterey Bay is more than just its aquarium; the city is a historical relic, full of expertly restored adobe buildings from California’s Spanish and Mexican periods. Book an ocean view hotel on the beach, and then explore the shops and attractions of iconic Cannery Row. Sip handcrafted wines at tucked-away tasting rooms where the winemaker might just be the person pouring. Take a surfing lesson and catch a glimpse of a barefoot beach wedding as you ride your board to shore. Play 18 holes at legendary golf courses, or just hang out at the 19th hole and watch the pros practice. Pack a picnic and watch the sunset on the white sands of Carmel Beach. Monterey is an unforgettable destination that will invigorate your soul.
Things Not to Miss in Monterey
Monterey Bay Aquarium
One of the most popular things to do in Monterey is a visit to the always entertaining Monterey Bay Aquarium. Exhibits are engaging and well laid out, and the setting on the water’s edge is perfect. If you time your visit right, you can see some of the daily shows and watch penguin or sea otters being fed by aquarists, or see tuna, sharks, turtles, and other marine life feeding through a huge window at the Open Sea exhibit.
For beautiful scenery and stunning views, 17-Mile Drive is a must if you are in the area. Only a few miles from Monterey, on the south side of the Monterey Peninsula, lies the delightful seaside town of Carmel. Although there is a much more direct route from Monterey to Carmel, the landscape and many charms of the countryside make it well worth going the long way around on 17-Mile Drive. This route begins at Pacific Grove Gate and runs through the Del Monte Forest, with an abundance of cypress trees and Monterey pines, past picturesque beaches, isolated cliffs, and a number famous sites.
Cannery Row is a waterfront street that originally served as a fish packing area but today is one of Monterey’s main tourist areas, with shops, restaurants, and a scenic waterfront. Cannery Row has evolved over the years from its sketchy origins of warehouses, bordellos, and low-budget hotels to a relatively upmarket row of chain shops, boutiques, and restaurants, and it’s a lovely place to stroll.
Old Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is another popular seaside, tourist-oriented area, not far from Cannery Row, with shops and restaurants. This is a great place for seafood, with some restaurants passing out samples as you walk by. You can stroll around the oceanfront for views out over the bay and see sea lions sunning themselves. Whale watching excursions, deep-sea fishing charters, and glass bottom boat tours leave from the wharf.
Video Credit: City of Monterey