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MontereyUnited States of America

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

Golden State Theatre showing theater scenes and a city

Old Monterey

4.5/5Wonderful!(453 area reviews)

Old Monterey is a destination visitors seek out for is pristine beaches, ample dining options, and popular aquarium. You might also want to check out attractions like Golden State Theatre or Monterey County Youth Museum while you're exploring the neighborhood.

Old Monterey
Monterey featuring general coastal views and a sunset

Downtown Monterey

4.5/5Wonderful!(251 area reviews)

The beaches and seaside views are top of the list for many visitors to Downtown Monterey. A stop by Monterey Bay or Fisherman's Wharf might round out your trip.

Downtown Monterey
Although my dogs hate water, they love the beach. Carmel is a really nice town. I mean, reallllly nice. It's right on Highway 1 driving down the beautiful coast of CA and with all these beautiful unique homes there's this awesome sandy beach that is completely dog friendly. Really great treat on a road trip with the pooches.

Northwest Carmel

4.5/5Wonderful!(159 area reviews)

While visiting Northwest Carmel, you might make a stop by sights like Carmel Beach and 17-Mile Drive.

Northwest Carmel
De repente Califórnia

Lighthouse District

4.5/5Wonderful!(258 area reviews)

Lighthouse District is well-regarded for its pristine beaches, ample dining options, and popular aquarium, and you might also want to make a stop by Cannery Row, a top sight in the neighborhood.

Lighthouse District
Carmel featuring signage, a city and street scenes

Golden Rectangle

5/5Exceptional!(186 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Golden Rectangle, Carmel Beach and Sunset Center are top sights worth seeing.

Golden Rectangle
Winter beach day in Carmel. #lifeatexpedia

Northeast Carmel

4.5/5Wonderful!(192 area reviews)

Though Northeast Carmel might not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica.

Northeast Carmel

Top Hotels in Monterey

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
Free Cancellation
The price is $233 per night

Located in the heart of Monterey, this luxury resort is within a 5-minute walk of Cannery Row and Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lovers Point are also ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (1,557 reviews)

"The team at Monterey Plaza provide excellent service. I felt like royalty from the minute we pulled up to the minute we left. During our stay we were greeted with smiles and courtesy. Any time anyone walked by, they checked on our well-being. The property is beautiful. The rooms and common areas ..."…"

Reviewed on Aug 11, 2020

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
Monterey Tides
Monterey Tides
3.5 out of 5
2600 Sand Dunes Dr, Monterey, CA
The price is $186 per night

Located in Monterey, this beachfront hotel is in the entertainment district, just steps from Monterey State Beach and Monterey Bay. Del Monte Beach and Monterey ...

3.7/5Good! (1,592 reviews)

"Every time we come here it’s an awesome experience Hotel staff is wonderful the rooms are always clean and friendly"…"

Reviewed on Aug 10, 2020

Monterey Tides
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA
The price is $144 per night

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 ...

4.1/5Very Good! (1,985 reviews)

"Quiet and private. Friendly front desk checkin at the bell desk. Smart due to Covid."…"

Reviewed on Aug 10, 2020

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

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.

Popular places to visit in Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Image for Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

4.5/5(1,731 reviews)

Perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find a spectacular window into life both above and below the waves.

Carmel Beach
Image for Carmel Beach

Carmel Beach

4.5/5(1,826 reviews)

Spot birds or catch waves, then spread out a picnic by a campfire and enjoy the views at this picturesque beach.

Cannery Row
Image for Cannery Row

Cannery Row

4.5/5(1,988 reviews)

Luxury, leisure and nature come together at this historic sardine-canning district, which is one of Monterey’s most acclaimed recreational areas.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Image for Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

4.5/5(540 reviews)

Hike, camp or picnic among the redwood trees, waterfalls and dramatic coastal cliffs that have inspired artists, poets and writers for the past century. 

17-Mile Drive
Image for 17-Mile Drive

17-Mile Drive

4.5/5(1,184 reviews)

Discover palatial mansions, lush golf courses and a wild stretch of coastline inhabited by sea lions on a road often dubbed one of the world’s most scenic drives.

Pebble Beach Golf Links
Image for Pebble Beach Golf Links

Pebble Beach Golf Links

4.5/5(896 reviews)

Hit the links in Del Monte Forest at Pebble Beach Golf Links, a popular golf course. Wander the beautiful beaches and seaside in this family-friendly area.

Top things to do in Monterey

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed
Image for 4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch - Sightings Guaranteed

$75
Per adult
96% of travellers recommend
Monterey, Carmel & Pacific Coast Highway - Full Day Tour
Image for Monterey, Carmel & Pacific Coast Highway - Full Day Tour

Monterey, Carmel & Pacific Coast Highway - Full Day Tour

$99
Per adult
88% of travellers recommend
Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)
Image for Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

$40
Per adult
Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Guided Driving Tour
Image for Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Guided Driving Tour

Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Guided Driving Tour

$8
Per adult
76% of travellers recommend
3-Hour Sea Car Tour
Image for 3-Hour Sea Car Tour

3-Hour Sea Car Tour

$174
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
The Original Monterey Walking Tours : Guided Tours of Cannery Row 2 PM
Image for The Original Monterey Walking Tours : Guided Tours of Cannery Row 2 PM

The Original Monterey Walking Tours : Guided Tours of Cannery Row 2 PM

$27
Per adult

Reviews of Monterey

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
2018
5 - Excellent 63.08221319162238%
4 - Good
1035
4 - Good 32.3538605814317%
3 - Okay
118
3 - Okay 3.6886527039699906%
2 - Disappointing
17
2 - Disappointing 0.5314160675211004%
1 - Terrible
11
1 - Terrible 0.34385745545482965%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jun 2, 2020

Monterey is a very green and quiet. It brings inner peace at the eye and freshness around you.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 31, 2020

Monterey is an extremely accessible city, from Hotel Pacific you can walk to the Wharf and marvel at the Sea Lions who are fun to watch. It is also a very peaceful area, serene and majestic with the array of stunning boats and marvelous skyline.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

May 31, 2020

Don’t go during a pandemic...

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

May 30, 2020

Very beautiful town, and highly suggest visiting Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 30, 2020

Absolutely Beautiful

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 26, 2020

Monterey is beautiful! Definitely recommend a stop here if you are doing the Highway 1 Coastal Drive (which you absolutely should do!)

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