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Top Activities in Monterey

See all 33 things to do in Monterey


What to Do in Monterey: Must See Attractions

Monterey Attractions

Located on the coast of Central California, Monterey is a paradise for whale and dolphin lovers. Sightings of these sea mammals are so commonplace in this region that those who operate Monterey tours featuring whale and dolphin watching routinely advertise that guests who fail to see ocean wildlife are free to take another tour

at no charge. Another must see for lovers of marine life is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Visitors are advised to allow themselves plenty of time to be mesmerized by enchanting exhibits featured here.

This community also provided the setting for John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row," and other well-known novels, and many popular Monterey excursions are based Steinbeck's life and writings. The National Steinbeck Center has long been one of the top attractions in Monterey. But Monterey, CA isn't known as the Language Capital of the World because it was the home of a famous novelist; the city is global leader in language instruction. The Defense Language Institute and the Monterey Institute of International Studies are both heavy players in worldwide language education.

Delighting jazz lovers since 1958, the Monterrey Jazz festival is one of the best events of its kind in the world. If jazz isn't your thing, though, you can always enjoy the Monterey Blues Festival, which has been going strong since 1986. The theater arts are also well-represented in Monterey. In fact, California's first theater was build there in 1947, which has earned the community the nickname of the "First City."

One of the newer Monterey activities sure to become a classic is the First City Festival that takes place in the latter part of the month of August. If you love playing golf, you are probably already aware that Monterey features a world-class golf course known as Pebble Beach. You will find no shortage of things to do in Monterey, and the friendly ambiance of the community will ensure you won't feel like just another tourist during your stay. Because Monterey isn't a large, sprawling metropolis, it's easy to find local spots where you'll feel right at home.

Please feel free to contact our office here at Expedia for the latest information on places to stay and things to do in Monterey. We can also provide you with a map of the local area to make sure that you won't miss out on any of the fabulous attractions in Monterey.

Things to Do in Monterey with Kids

There's fun for the entire family in Monterey. Here are a few family friendly experiences to do together that'll make your break memorable:

Free Things to Do in Monterey

Vacationing in Monterey on a budget? The following can be experienced for nix.

Stanton Center - Chat to the friendly staff and find out about the special collections exhibited at this museum.

Cherry Center for the Arts - Satiate your passion for arts and culture here and see local talent at work.

California Sea Otter Game Refuge - Discover why animal lovers enjoy spending time here.

Dennis the Menace Park - Loosen up and add some more fun to your vacation here.

California's First Theatre - Visit this historic site and learn something about the area's cultural heritage.

Monterey Convention Center - Stop here for a while and find out the importance of this place to the local community.

St Mary's by the Sea - No matter what you believe in, this place is sure to inspire a sense of reverence in you.

San Carlos Beach - The Breakwater - Inhale the fresh, salty air and watch the waves roll in at this gorgeous coastal spot.

Fort Ord Dunes State Park - Let the natural surroundings here revitalize your mind.

Lovers Point - Work on your green thumb and admire the beautiful and diverse plants on display.

Explore The Neighborhoods of Monterey

Old Monterey

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.

DiningAquariumsLive Music

Downtown Monterey

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.


Northwest Carmel

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

Lighthouse District

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.

AquariumsWalkingWhale Watching

Golden Rectangle

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

Northeast Carmel

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.

Learn More About Monterey | Blog

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in Monterey on a sunny day?

What to do in Monterey on a rainy day?

What is Monterey famous for?

Decisions, decisions — there are lots to make in Monterey, like which of these big-name sights to discover first:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • California State University Monterey Bay

What should I not miss in Monterey?

Don't return home without ticking off the following superb attractions:

  • Carmel Beach
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
  • Point Lobos State Reserve

Are there cheap things to do in Monterey?

Keep more of your hard-earned pennies in your pocket with these thrifty and fun activities:

What can you do in Monterey for free?

You'll hardly have time to pull your wallet out of your bag with so many great free attractions:

  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • California State University Monterey Bay
  • Carmel Beach
  • Point Lobos State Reserve