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Top things to do in Monterey County, California

There are so many unique attractions in Monterey that it can be hard to pick just one! Here's a quick overview of Monterey County’s top attractions, with links to more in-depth information.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Discover life in Monterey’s bay without leaving dry land at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Dedicated to marine research and conservation, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is known throughout the world for its interactive exhibits and ability to present marine life on a truly grand scale. It's been called "one of America's most captivating aquariums" by Learn more...



Cannery Row

Cannery Row in Monterey

In January 1958, the City of Monterey officially re-named Ocean View Avenue "Cannery Row" in honor of John Steinbeck. Today's Cannery Row is anchored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and features restaurants, hotels, specialty shops, local artists' galleries and wine tasting rooms, all stretching along the historic streets and waterfront. Visitors can take in the wonders of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by scuba diving, kayaking, or bike riding along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail. Learn more...


Fisherman's Wharf

Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Fisherman's Wharf in downtown Monterey should be on the "must-do" list of every visitor to the area. This is a great place to take in the sights and sounds and smells of Monterey. Because neighboring Wharf 2 is the heart of the area's thriving fishing industry, you can usually watch the working trawlers unloading the catch of the day — just look for all of the seagulls hoping for a handout to know who's had a successful day on the Bay! Stroll down the wharf with a cup of hot clam chowder, or stop by one of several restaurants featuring fresh Monterey Bay seafood. You can photograph sea lions and otters frolicking in the calm inner harbor waters, or, if you're feeling more adventurous, take to the waters with a glass bottom boat tour, deep-sea fishing trip or whale watching tour in season.

Scenic Drives

17 Mile Drive in Monterey

17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach is one of the best-known scenic drives in the world. It takes visitors past dream homes and the world’s greatest golf courses, as well as miles of scenic coastline and the serene majesty of Del Monte Forest. Highway One from Monterey through Big Sur is “the road trip of a lifetime.” It’s a State Scenic Highway and has been declared an All-American Road by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Scenic Byways Program. Learn more...


Historic Sites

Monterey County, once the capital of Alta California, is the epicenter of California history. Explore the heritage of the California mission era at our three historic missions. Walk the Path of History to learn about the Mexican era, as well as the area’s early literary history. Immerse yourself in the artistic legacy of Central California at the Monterey Museum of Art. Experience the works of Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck and the agricultural history of Monterey County at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. Learn about the region’s flora and fauna at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.

Regional, State and Federal Parks

A Monterey County hiking trailMonterey County's hundreds of thousands of acres of parks range from the “mini-Yosemite” of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to the austere beauty of Pinnacles National Monument, the coastal beauty of Point Lobos State Reserve and everything in between. Walk or ride your bike on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, which stretches 18 miles along the coast and connects many of the coastal parks. Go hang gliding, mountain biking, camping, horseback riding, surfing, birding, diving and more at the more than 30 parks in Monterey County. Find your park here.



Monastery Beach in CarmelWhether you’re looking for the quintessential sandy California surfing beach, stunning cliffs with spectacular views of the ocean, or a picture-perfect rocky shoreline, you’ll find it all along Monterey County’s coast. Dive, surf, sail, kayak or watch wildlife at any of our 13 beaches – or just enjoy the scenery. Find your beach here.



Special Events

Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca

Monterey’s widely acclaimed calendar of events attracts visitors from around the world. Music lovers return annually to the Monterey Jazz Festival in September and the Carmel Bach Festival in July. Every August, car lovers descend on Monterey County for the legendary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and other events of Monterey Auto Week, while racing fans visit throughout the season for the Monterey Sports Car Championship, Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix and other events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Golf lovers converge on Pebble Beach for internationally renowned tournaments like February’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the U.S. Open, and April’s Big Sur International Marathon is just one of many other competitive events that take place throughout the year. Click here to see upcoming events.



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