Monterey is one of California's most popular coastal destinations and the Central Coast town is known for beautiful beaches, historic landmarks and musical events.
If you're a nature lover, you'll be in your element in Monterey. It's the whale watching capital of the world and the scenic peninsula is home to California's largest population of sea otters.
Literature fans adore Monterey too and the town's Cannery Row, once the heart of the sardine canning industry, was the setting for John Steinbeck's famous novel, 'Cannery Row'. Other Steinbeck novels set in Monterey include East of Eden and Tortilla Flat.
Monterey is popular with weekend visitors who pop up from San Francisco as well as with tourists from around the world. Fine dining, unique gift shops and 5 sandy beaches - it's ideal for both short or long breaks.
Monterey Bay's five beautiful sandy beaches are sheltered by rugged, tree studded cliffs that drop into the deep azure waters of the Pacific Ocean. Soak up the sun, watch spectacular sunsets or linger by beach bonfires long into the night.
Mention Monterey and people often think of cheese, wine or John Steinbeck. The county produces a wide selection of cheeses including the famous Monterey Jack cheese, and its vineyards are known for fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
Watch trawlers unloading the catch at Fisherman's Wharf before setting out on the 2-mile Path of History past notable landmarks like the 19th-century Old Custom House and Whaling Station.
A popular scuba diving destination, Monterey's clear waters are home to a dazzling array of sea creatures who frequent the massive underwater kelp forests. Kayaking is a great way to explore the peninsula and land lovers can cycle the scenic Monterey Coastal Trail.
Monterey County Aquarium attracts over 1,000,000 visitors annually. A magnificent range of installations feature thousands of sea creatures including sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and giant octopuses.
Whether you’re an outdoor fan or a history buff there are lots of great attractions in Monterey, including many that shouldn’t be missed.
With eight galleries and an impressive range of exhibitions, the Monterey Museum of Art on Pacific Street is a must for culture lovers. If that’s not enough to sate your appetite, you’ll find another four galleries at its Via Mirada site.
See sea lions basking in the sun at Fisherman's Wharf, at the industrial wharf or on the breakwater near Cannery Row on most days. Sea otters are common around the bay and harbour seals can be spotted west of the Stanford research station.
Asilomar State Beach is 100 acres of dunes, beaches and tidal pools stretching from Del Monte Forest to Point Pinos. The area is popular with surfers, who come to catch the best breaks from November to March, and dogs are permitted if they're on a leash.
Motor along 17-Mile Drive, the world-famous road that starts near Monterey and winds along the Pebble Beach coast. Be sure to stop to get a photo of the Lone Cypress tree and the fabulous Crocker Marble Palace.
There are events and shows throughout the year. Visit in September for the Monterey Jazz Festival, the world’s longest continually running jazz event or catch the Monterey Country Fair each August.
The summer season is from May to September, tourist attractions are open and beach life is in full swing. Monterey's population can double between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so visit in early Spring or in Fall if you prefer a quieter break. If you're hoping to spot those famous blue whales, their migration period is from January to March. May and September are the sunniest months and music fans can catch the world-famous Monterey Jazz Festival in September. Visit between November and March for spectacular sunsets and dramatic waves.
Monterey Regional Airport, also known as Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY), has regular flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The airport is three miles south-east of downtown Monterey; take Highway 68 west till it connects with Highway 1 for the center of Monterey.
If you plan to arrive by train, Amtrak's Coast Starlight service to Salinas is the most convenient. Upon arrival in Salinas you can take Monterey-Salinas Transit buses (routes 21 and 56) to Monterey.
PCH or Pacific Coast Highway is one of the world's most scenic roads. Featuring landmarks like the Bixby Bridge, it runs through Monterey from Big Sur in the north to Santa Cruz in the south. If you're driving from the San Francisco Bay Area, follow US 101 south to Prunedale then take State Highway 156 to merge with southbound US-1. Those traveling from the south can take US-101 north to Salinas then State Road 68 west.
MST (Monterey-Salinas Transit) operates a bus service from San Jose to Monterey as part of Amtrak's Thruway service.
Choose from friendly bed & breakfast establishments, boutique hotels, affordable chains and luxury spa hotels. If you're on a budget, try Day's Inn at Fisherman's Wharf or Monterey Bay Lodge. Well-known chains like Ramada, Marriott and Comfort Inn are good mid-range options while the Portola Hotel, Old Monterey Inn and Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa and Cannery Row are perfect for luxury breaks.
Old Monterey/Downtown - the important historic district includes the harbour, Fisherman's Wharf and the Presidio of Monterey. Alvarado Street is the city's main shopping street.
New Monterey - north of the Presidio of Monterey, this popular districts is where you'll find Cannery Row. Also known for hotels, shopping, fine dining and family-friendly attractions.
Skyline Ridge - the heart of Monterey and also its highest district. Adjacent to Veteran's Memorial Park, a beautiful pine tree-studded space with campgrounds, basketball courts and hiking trails.
MST runs buses between Monterey and the nearby towns of Pacific Grove and Carmel as well as to Salinas and Big Sur. Fares are $1.50 (adults) and $.75 (children/seniors/concessions) on city routes and $3.50 and $1.75 on regional routes. Pay on board or buy 7 or 31 day Go Cards and Go Passes online at http://mst.org/fares/overview/ or in person from MST customer service outlets.
Yellow Cab or Coastal Yellow Cab of Monterey taxis are convenient for trips to Carmel, Pacific Grove or the Airport. Standard charges are $3.50 start fee plus $2.75 per mile.
Many people rent a car to explore the peninsula and further afield. Monterey is easy to navigate and there are several parking garages in Downtown and New Monterey. Metered on-street parking is available in most parts of the city including Cannery Row and close to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Monterey is fairly expensive with prices almost on a par with San Francisco or New York. Expect to pay $20.00 for dinner in an inexpensive restaurant and $65 for a three-course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant.
You'll find lots of independent stores like Monterey Imports (art and accessories from India, Nepal and Tibet) on Alvarado Street in Downtown Monterey. Head to Cannery Row or Fisherman’s Wharf for gift stores or visit Del Monte Mall for clothing and other goods; this attractive mall also has a large cinema complex and several restaurants.
Buy food and basics from Monterey supermarkets like Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market. For terrific sandwiches and snacks try Troia’s Market in Pacific Street or visit the Wharf Marketplace for gourmet foods and wine.
Local must-try dishes are sanddabs, clam chowder and artichokes. Monterey is the artichoke capital and you’ll find them sautéed, grilled, fried or braised in sandwiches, soups and even on pizza in restaurants all over town. Try fried sand dabs or clam chowder in restaurants or at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Foodies will love landmark restaurant Rosine’s on Alvarado Street which is famous for its delicious cakes. For special meals, treat yourself to classic California cuisine at Tarpy’s Roadhouse, a hillside restaurant housed in a historic former homestead where you can choose local wines to accompany lunch or dinner.