What? : Monterey, a
main tourist attraction town on the coastline, is known for its wealth of
marine life, ragged ocean beaches and small bays and delicious seafood. Monterey
Bay Aquarium is a must-visit attraction.
Where? : Monterey
located at the central California coastline, 120 miles south of San Francisco
on highway 1.
Due note 1: I will advise
to plan for one day visit at Monterey, half a day in the Monterey Bay Aquarium
and the nearby popular strip of gift shops, seafood restaurants and bars in
converted factories. The second part of the day can be spending at the many others
Due note 1: Monterey is
not only a attraction destination by itself for few days getaway but also can
be use as base for trips in the area, south on the most beautiful highway 1
into Big Sur or north up to Santa Cruz or east to the Pinnacle National Park.
Due note 1: an excellent way
to explore the Monterey ocean front is by renting a bike. You can rent them at
the town center and ride along the protected bike trail that will take you to
Monterey Aquarium, Lovers Point Park and to Point Pinos Lighthouse park at the
Due note 1: I will not
cover restaurants options; I will just say that you have many of different
options to dine at. As for or night accommodation arrangements, there are many places
to sleep in Monterey but if you want to look for lower coast hotels try at the
nearby Sand City.
Due note 1: Around Monterey
and near major attractions you can find many available and large parking lots,
My thoughts: We really like
Monterey and visit it many times, the town has a lot to offer and many attractions
to visit and see. On weekends it can be overcrowded. In my view the Monterey
Bay Aquarium is a must-visit attraction, and you should plan your stay here
As you can read
below attractions list Monterey is a destination by itself for few days of exploration.
If you’re visiting
here as part of your California highway 1 road-trip you probably need to plan
for a one-day visit.
For people that
have additional time to spend here are many local things to see as well as
additional nearby attractions like: famous 17-Mile Drive with its coastal
scenery, Carmel-By-The-Sea up-scale town, Carmel Valley with all it wineries and
the famous Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, just 20 minutes’ drive south on
I will try to
cover the town main attraction-points in the order you are getting into town following
the bay coastline.
Old Fisherman's Wharf:
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of Monterey’s most tourist attraction places to visit.
In the past, it served as a fish market, only ending this occupation in the
This peer boardwalk
has a wide range of seafood restaurants (from casual to fancy).
There are also,
numerous local stores selling candy, ice-cream, art, jewelry, and souvenir
shops. If you just want to see it 30 minutes will be enough.
State Historic Park section:
the capital of Spanish California from 1770 to 1882. Walking along the sections
of the old restored buildings with historical significance to this California
city. Many of these structures date back to the early years of the 19th century.
From here you will go to town center on one side or to the Old Fisherman's
Wharf on the ocean side.
Whale watching tours:
Monterey Bay is
considered to be a premier destination for whale watching year-round as these animals
are often spotted there, especially when they migrate during winter months.
Many boat tours
start at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey and they are taking 2-3 hours.
We did it only
one and it was a foggy day with high sea, so we did not see much (only dolphins),
others went to a sale and saw wales from close distance.
Monterey Bay Aquarium:
attraction on Cannery Row, and one of the top California visitors’ attractions,
is the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
I highly recommend
investing the time (and money) to visit this Aquarium live and educational museum.
Plan to be here
at list for 3 hours if not for a half a day.
Although not a
huge in size it has excellent exhibits, explanations, and programs, covering many
aspects of the local and deep ocean marine life.
Do not miss the
famous Kreisel tank that hosts red/orange jellyfish astonishing display. The large
water tank that hosts many sharks’ as well as yellowfin tuna and Bluefin tuna.
Others notable displays in the aquarium are the huge kelp forests, Penguin’s and
the Sea Otters water tank.
advance when are the feeding times, it is always interesting to see this
because than the animals are very active.
The aquarium is
consistently ranked among the top attractions in the California.
You will not be
here alone, with average of 1.8 million visitors each year, this is a crowded
place (now less because of Covid 19 limitations). Nevertheless, it has plenty
of exhibits and things to see and discover, the crowd will not ruin your experience.
Make sure to
read latest updates and opening hours at the Aquarium website:
not be available at the Main Entrance. You must reserve tickets online for a
specific entry date and time in advance.
You will follow
a one-way path through the Aquarium.
1958, the City of Monterey re-named the street leading to the Aquarium to
"Cannery Row". Once upon a time, Cannery Row was the location of the bustling
canning industry – hence its name.
The same factory
buildings used for cannery processes are still being used today, you can find
in this district many shops, local galleries and many restaurants. This is the
perfect place to spend some time, eat something or get an ice-cream after your Aquarium
There are many
large parking-lot garages nearby. You can spend here 15 min, just to drive
through and get the atmosphere, or for much longer visit depending of your
A short 15-minutes
stop at one of the side neighborhood streets. A private house covered with
butterfly arts, park nearby, take a few pictures at the colorful place and keep
on to your destination.
Lovers Point Park:
A small sandy bay
park that is good for swimming, surfing or tide pool exploration, kayak &
Point Pinos Lighthouse and Asilomar
sights are exquisite, as are the parks, beaches, and similar locations you’ll
pass along the way.
Bay National Marine Sanctuary is an area that offers marine wildlife viewings
even from shore, spot migrating whales at the winter months, sea lions, seals,
and many birds. For divers it is one of the most impressive protected marine
locations not just in California, but across the country.
There are many places
to park along the road and just explore the nearby beaches and rocks or just
enjoy the sunset colors at the afternoon.
coastal landmark drive runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, featuring coastal
rocky landscapes vistas and many places to explore. Among other you can see
here the Lone Cypress, one of the most photographed trees in North America, explore
the shores of Spanish Bay and drive along the famous Pebble Beach Golf course.
If possible, I recommend
taking this drive late at the afternoon before and at sunset, the sunset into
the ocean coloring the sky, ragged cliffs and the ocean wave will be perfect
ending to your Monterey day, just before you are heading to one of the local restaurants.
Plan for around
2 hours’ drive with stops at the many viewing point along road.
Fort Ord Dunes State Park:
Monterey you can find this coastal dune park. This is not a must visit if you
are just passing by as part of your round trip but if you have 2 hours to spend
on your way north and you want to spend some hiking time at less crowded, long,
sandy beach this is the place.