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Monterey, CA

Travel Guide
Monterey featuring general coastal views, a sandy beach and landscape views

Discover one of California’s most beautiful coastal cities, known for its fabulous aquarium and for being the setting for a famous John Steinbeck novel. 

Located along the rugged coastline of California, the oceanfront settlement of Monterey exudes seaside charm. Play on the dunes at public beaches, observe sea lions at the wharfs and embark on scenic walks along the coastal cliffs.

Get acquainted with the history of this coastal city, which was originally founded by the Spanish in 1770. Wander around Old Monterey and be on the look out for the Path of History plaques, which are placed along the sidewalk and point toward the landmark historical buildings.

During the earlier half of the 20th century, Monterey made its money from sardine canning, an industry that Steinbeck wrote about in his novel Cannery Row. Although the sardine canning businesses have closed, Cannery Row still exists. Stroll down the street and look for a bronze bust of Steinbeck and the old workers’ shacks, which show the harsh living conditions the workers here would have endured.

Take a stroll down Fisherman’s Wharf, browsing souvenir shops, seafood markets and admiring the 360-degree harbor views along the way. Sea lions and seals can often be seen in the waters here.

Don’t miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium; its tanks are filled with kaleidoscopic marine creatures. The aquarium is right next to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where seals, sea lions, whales and dolphins can all be spotted. Of particular note is the aquarium’s kelp forest and the surreal jellyfish exhibit.

For visitors who want to see the California coast’s signature crashing waves and oceanfront cliffs, head for Garrapata State Park. Follow hiking trails along steep coastal bluffs and through towering redwood forests. Point Lobos State Reserve is another good place to get back to nature. Rent a kayak and paddle through coves, looking for orcas, sea lions and seals. The 18-mile (29-kilometer) long Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is open to walkers and cyclists.

From San Francisco, reach Monterey by car in about 2.5 hours. Buses are also available from San Jose, while internal flights touch down at Monterey Regional Airport. In downtown Monterey, make use of the free trolley service; check the Monterey-Salinas Transit website for the schedule.

Monterey Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Monterey

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA
Fully refundable
The price is $281 per night from Aug 29 to Aug 29
Located in the heart of Monterey, this luxury resort is within a 15-minute walk of Lake El Estero and Monterey Bay. Monterey County Fairgrounds and Del Monte ...
4/5Very Good! (205 reviews)
"This is a great property and is very kid and dog friendly, while still being very nice. We enjoyed the atmosphere of the lobby and restaurant. There are lots of fun outdoor games and activities for kids to do, as well as a fun beer garden for the adults. The hotel food is okay, and our one true "complaint" ..."

Reviewed on Jul 28, 2021

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay
Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay
4 out of 5
Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $329 per night from Aug 29 to Aug 29
Located in Downtown Monterey, this resort is within a 5-minute walk of Monterey Convention Center and Fisherman's Wharf. Monterey Bay and Cannery Row are also ...
4.3/5Excellent! (980 reviews)
"Gym"

Reviewed on Jul 29, 2021

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay
Monterey Tides
Monterey Tides
3.5 out of 5
2600 Sand Dunes Dr, Monterey, CA
The price is $296 per night from Aug 30 to Aug 30
Nestled on the beach, this Monterey hotel is just steps from Monterey State Beach and Monterey Bay. Del Monte Beach and Monterey County Fairgrounds are also ...
3.7/5Good! (1,838 reviews)
"On site restaurant not open 7 days a week for dinner"

Reviewed on Jul 27, 2021

Monterey Tides
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Villa by the Sea, Off Ocean Ave, Carmel-by-the-sea
Villa by the Sea, Off Ocean Ave, Carmel-by-the-sea
Carmel, CA
The price is $500 per night from Aug 2 to Aug 2
Located in Southeast Carmel, this villa is within 1 mi (2 km) of Forest Theater Guild, Carmel Beach, and 17-Mile Drive. Carmel Mission Basilica is 1.2 mi (1.9 ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (19 reviews)
Wonderful
"Nice property.great location.love it as I can bring my dog and cat with us"

Reviewed on Jul 12, 2021

Villa by the Sea, Off Ocean Ave, Carmel-by-the-sea
Ocean Views and Steps to Secluded Beach! - NEW hot tub Arriving in March
Ocean Views and Steps to Secluded Beach! - NEW hot tub Arriving in March
Carmel, CA
Located in Carmel Meadows, this historic vacation home is 0.3 mi (0.5 km) from Carmel River State Beach and within 3 mi (5 km) of Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission ...
4.7/5Exceptional! (84 reviews)
TV just needed a good "reboot"
"I guess as part of locking down the often-frustrating device miscommunication between the home theatre system and the tv system-- the regular remote was locked up-- so we couldn't enjoy a movie later in the evening when we discovered the audio wasn't working. The serene location inspires you not ..."

Reviewed on Jul 29, 2021

Ocean Views and Steps to Secluded Beach! - NEW hot tub Arriving in March
Private Carmel Woods, Dog Friendly, By Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur
Private Carmel Woods, Dog Friendly, By Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur
Carmel, CA
Located in Carmel Woods, this apartment building is 1.1 mi (1.7 km) from Cherry Center for the Arts and within 3 mi (5 km) of Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission ...
4.8/5Exceptional! (17 reviews)
Perfect Little Getaway
"Wonderful, quiet, central location, and perfect spot for a quick getaway. It’s hard to find a good spot to rent for a couple with dogs. This relaxing studio was more than we expected with an entry and kitchenette separate from the bedroom with fireplace and separate from a dressing room next to the ..."

Reviewed on Feb 12, 2021

Private Carmel Woods, Dog Friendly, By Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Getting around Monterey

Although the historic areas of Monterey are very compact and best explored on foot, to get around the wider area you will definitely need a car. There is no public transportation option that can serve as an adequate substitute. The good news is there are plenty of places to get a rental car in Monterey. Pick one up at the airport, or at one of the rental companies located within Monterey itself. Visit the Monterey-Salinas Transit website.Browse Monterey rental cars.

Best time to visit

The weather in Monterey is perfect for a vacation at any time of year. Although the winters do get slightly cooler, they are almost never cold and you usually still have plenty of hours of sunshine. Beat the summer crowds and visit Monterey in late spring or early fall instead when daytime temperatures are likely to be in the mid to high 60s (15 C and above). Accommodations will be less expensive, too.

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