Monterey awaits: its aquarium, oceanfront, beaches, and more!

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.

Known for

Beaches, Aquariums and Sea

Explore map

Where to stay in Monterey

Downtown Monterey
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Downtown Monterey

Beaches, Sea, Sports

The pristine beaches and popular aquarium are top of the list for many visitors to Downtown Monterey. A stop by Dennis the Menace Park or Maritime Museum might round out your trip.

Old Monterey
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Old Monterey

Dining, Aquariums, Live Music

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 Maritime Museum or Golden State Theatre while you're exploring the neighborhood.

Golden Rectangle
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Golden Rectangle

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

Northwest Carmel
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Northwest Carmel

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

Carmel Point
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Carmel Point

While visiting Carmel Point, you might make a stop by sights like Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica.

Southeast Carmel
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Southeast Carmel

If you're looking for some top things to see and do in Southeast Carmel and surrounding area, you can visit Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission Basilica.

Top Hotels in Monterey

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
4 out of 5
1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA
$143/night
Sep 2 - Sep 3
4/5Very Good! (6,016 reviews)

"Gluten free menu was great at the restaurants. Good food, good drinks, nice views. The rooms were spacious and clean. All at a great price. Would stay again!"…"

Reviewed on Aug 17, 2019

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Image for Monterey Tides
Monterey Tides
3.5 out of 5
2600 Sand Dunes Dr, Monterey, CA
$174/night
Sep 10 - Sep 11
3.8/5Good! (3,301 reviews)

"The hotel is right at the beach, which makes an outing with kids easy and practical. However, the space for sitting and eating in the lobby is extremely limited. When you get a foggy and chill weekend like we did, the hotel ends up offering comfortable beds and closeness to a freeway to take you ..."…"

Reviewed on Aug 12, 2019

Monterey Tides
Image for Monterey Beach Dunes Inn
Monterey Beach Dunes Inn
2.5 out of 5
3280 Dunes Drive, Marina, CA
$79/night
Sep 2 - Sep 3
3/5 (1,639 reviews)

"all aspects of such a property was excellent. I can't say enough about the place, staff and manager."…"

Reviewed on Aug 16, 2019

Monterey Beach Dunes Inn

Popular things to do in Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium
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Monterey Bay Aquarium

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

Fisherman's Wharf
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Fisherman's Wharf

Take a whale tour, admire the ocean views from seafood restaurants and browse the souvenirs for sale in this thriving marina.

Carmel Beach
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Carmel Beach

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

Pebble Beach Golf Links
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Pebble Beach Golf Links

Hit the links in Del Monte Forest at Pebble Beach Golf Links, a popular golf course. Stroll along the seaside or attend a sporting event in this family-friendly area.

Point Lobos State Reserve
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Point Lobos State Reserve

This wildlife sanctuary, a magnet for nature lovers and artists, is a jewel of the California State Park system. 

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Explore the great outdoors with a trip to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, a popular green space in Big Sur. Amble around the area's seaside, or seek out its hiking trails.

Top activities in Monterey

4 Hour Summer Whale Watch
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4 Hour Summer Whale Watch

$51

Look for whales as they spend time in the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of California on this half-day whale watching cruise from Monterey.

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

$89

Cruise along California's spectacular coastline on a relaxing day trip from San Francisco. You'll follow Highway 1 to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula and visit Steinbeck's Cannery Row. Finish your day with a stop at the coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea before returning to San Francisco.

Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea Explorer
Image for Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea Explorer

Monterey & Carmel-by-the-Sea Explorer

$99

The experiences you’ll have on tour from San Francisco to Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel-by-the-Sea are extraordinary – starting with the Pacific coastline that you’ll trace on the drive south to Monterey.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Monterey

Couple time in Carmel
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Couple time in Carmel

Reconnecting and rejuvenating in coastal California

Nature’s zoo
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Nature’s zoo

Watching wildlife in and around Monterey

Wine and dine in Paso Robles
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Wine and dine in Paso Robles

Pursuing perfect pairings along California’s central coast

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