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Monterey, CA Rundown

Monterey, CA, is a very relaxed and elegant historical city where tourists enjoy cultural and natural attractions. It is far removed from the urban metropolitan pace of nearby San Francisco and Los Angeles. While people go to those cities for clubbing and sun bathing, Monterey, CA, is more for wine tasting and gallery hopping. Places like Ventana Vineyardsand the Scheid Wine Lounge offer samplings of the finer things in life.

That isn't to say that Monterey residents and guests are snobs, however. This charming town offers a homey feeling and a relaxed seaside atmosphere that greatly inspired some of John Steinbeck's famous literary creations. If you enjoy his work, Steinbeck's Spirit of Monterey Wax Museumoffers a 3D interpretation of his classic fiction. If the sea is what draws you to Monterey, CA, as it did Steinbeck, then you have many treats in store for you. Old Fisherman's Wharf is a historic seaside site where you can watch sea lions, otters and seals frolic. This is also a premier spot for whale watching during the winter when the grey whales migrate to the warmer waters of Monterey, CA.

Monterey, CA Top 10

10. Monterey Museum of Art is actually two locations. La Marida is a traditional adobe dwelling from the Mexican era that contains four galleries. The larger museum building in Monterey, CA, and features eight galleries with rotating art exhibits.

5. Dennis The Menace Park is a great place to take the kids while visiting Monterey, CA. The park features a train and paddleboats, which allow the children to interact with the resident ducks and geese. Admission is free, but you pay a rental fee for the boats.

9. Carmel Mission is one of California's 21 celebrated historic Spanish missions, and there are still Catholic services held in this old religious site.

4. Stop in A Taste of Monterey if you need to take a sanity break from the crowds of tourists in Monterey, CA. Sample some of their excellent local wines while taking in the lovely view at a window seat.

8. Bruce Ariss Wharf Theater offers a variety of shows to audiences of all ages. You really should not leave Monterey, CA, without seeing at least one performance at this theatre.

3. Monterey Mirror Maze and Laser Challenge offers a psychedelic mirrored maze that boggles the minds of many visitors. You can compete in the ‘Break the Vault’ challenge whilst you’re there, and pretend to be a daring bank robber for the day.

7. Monterey Peninsula offers various venues for sightseers, particularly the historic buildings of Carmel.

2. Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a large variety of aquatic exhibits from giant jellyfish to playful sea mammals. You can watch the attendants feed and play with the tame resident otters and other sea creatures housed there.

6. 17 Mile Drive is not your average scenic drive. You can see several vantage points of the gorgeous coast from viewing towers and meander the pebbled beaches at your leisure.

1. Cannery Row is one of the most famous tourist spots in Monterey, CA, that was made popular by the award-winning novelist John Steinbeck. The boulevard offers historical attractions as well as museums, galleries, shops and eateries.

Monterey History

  • Monterey State Historic Park – Featuring restored and authentically decorated houses that date back to the 1800s.
  • Colton Hall – A museum that was once a town hall meeting place, public school and jail.
  • Cannery Row – Named in honour of John Steinbeck, Cannery Row features specialty stores, restaurants, bars, hotels, wine tasting rooms and art galleries.
  • Fisherman's Wharf – Grab a cup of hot clam chowder and go whale watching, take a tour in a glass-bottomed boat or watch the fishermen unload the catch of the day.
  • Steinbeck's Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum – A fairly new attraction where you can learn more than 400 years of Monterey history.

Monterey Art & Culture

  • Golden State Theatre – This theatre has been around since the silent movie days and is still used for movies, orchestras and music concerts.
  • Pacific Grove Art Centre – Offers ballet and art classes and features art from up-and-coming artists in more than 10 studios.
  • San Carlos Cathedral – Built in the 1700s, this is the oldest place of worship in Monterey and showcases Spanish and Moorish architecture.
  • Laguna Seca Recreation Area – A park with great views of the hillsides, a serene camping environment and a shooting range.
  • Pebble Beach – A community featuring eight golf courses, gourmet restaurants, awesome spas and top-drawer shopping.

Monterey Shopping

  • Cannery Row Antique Mall – A 21,000-square-foot mall with two floors of great shopping.
  • Fleurs du Soleil – Floral design studio specializing in extravagantly designed arrangements.
  • Embracing Moments – A metal jewellery store specializing in sterling silver, copper and brass necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
  • Monterey Farmers' Market – A weekday outdoor market offering fresh produce, seafood, natural meats and farm fresh eggs.
  • Cannery Row Bay View Tasting Room – One-stop place to sample wine from more than 65 regional wineries.

Gay & Lesbian Monterey

  • Pride of Monterey County Festival – This festival typically happens in mid-July.
  • Baylands Frontrunners – A friendly running and walking LGBT club.
  • Alternative Café – LGBT-friendly local café that hosts open-mic night, music, poetry, comedy and art shows.
  • Vagabond’s House – LGBT-friendly bed and breakfast and artist's retreat.
  • Mafinfesta Safaris for Women – A women-only vacation that encourages friendship, confidence and self-esteem.

Monterey Outdoor

  • Marina State Beach – Featuring the Marina Dunes Natural Preserves, this is the place for hang gliding, kite flying, picnics and radio-controlled gliders.
  • Princess Monterey Whale Watching – Guided tours in the Monterey Bay to see many different kinds of whales.
  • Monterey Bay Scenic Tours – A three-hour multimedia bus tour of the Monterey Peninsula.
  • Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park – A state park with a forest setting with great trees, wildlife and a varying degree of difficulty hiking trails.
  • Dennis the Menace Park – A non-standard playground with fast slides and towering climbing structures catering to children but very enticing to adults.

Monterey Sport

  • Stay fit with the Monterey Sports Centre’s gym, workout room or pool.
  • Dive with the help of Glenn’s Aquarius II.
  • Bike or hike the Monterey coastline along the Coastal Recreation Trail.
  • Grab your clubs and play a round of 18 holes at Poppy Hills Golf Course.
  • Play a quick match of tennis at the Monterey Tennis Centre.

Monterey, CA Events

The Gilroy Garlic Festival takes place in Monterey, CA, in late July/early August and features garlic-laden gourmet foods, cook-offs, and many fun family activities.

California Rodeo Salinas is a venue in Salinas, which is just north of Monterey, CA. The rodeos are sponsored by nonprofits that benefit the local community. Various other events are held throughout the year such as the Miss California Rodeo Queen pageants, the Electric Rodeo Gala in May, and a number of prominent motocross events in the summer.

Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival is a unique event in Monterey, CA, held in July each year. Participants enjoy wine tasting, music and poetry readings at the Steinbeck Institute of Art & Culture.

Monterey, CA County Fair features a number of fun events such as a carnival with rides and games, a farmers market and musical performances. The excitement kicks off in July.

Big Sur Marathon is a 26.2-mile (about 16 km) athletic challenge that spans from Big Sur to Carmel, passing through Monterey, CA. Proceeds are donated to charity, and the race takes place in April.

AT&T Pebble Beach National ProAm is a prestigious tournament for professional golfers and celebrities. It takes place in Monterey, CA, each February at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the MPCC Shore Course and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

Blue Ocean Film Festival features independent and short films with oceanic themes. You can catch it in September each year in Monterey, CA.

Monterey, CA Blues Festival is a treat for those who love the blues. It is held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in June and features the talents of a variety of famous and local musicians.

September is the month to enjoy the fabulous Monterey, CA Jazz Fest. Fans of both modern and classical jazz will be pleased to know that they can watch both orchestral and band performances during this celebration. Many big names like Joshua Redman have played at this major annual event.

Celebrate Rastafarian culture and music any way you like at the Monterey, CA, Reggae Festival in July. Along with live music, there will be food andmerchandise booths, moon bounces, slides and lots of dread locks.

When to Go

The weather in Monterey, CA, is typically very pleasant and tolerable even in the summer and winter months. This makes Monterey a great destination any time of year.

Monterey, CA, experiences the warmest temperatures during the months of August through October with highs in the mid 70s F (21-22°C). The coldest time of the year is from December to February with lows in the low 40s F (5°C).

There is more precipitation from January to March than any other time of year, with an average of 9-10 cm of rain during this period. Snow is uncommon but not impossible for Monterey, CA.

Getting There

If you intend to drive to Monterey, CA, you will arrive there via State Highway 1. There are a number of routes to use but most will merge into State Highway 1 via US 101 or State Route 68.

You can take an Amtrak train into the city of Salinas, which is adjacent to Monterey, CA. The train service offers shuttle buses from the station to most major hotels in Monterey. There are also Amtrak buses that will run between San Jose and Monterey for only $10.

Major airports in Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Arizona offer services to the Monterey Peninsula Airport. You can fly into LAX or San Francisco to connect to Monterey as well.

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Hotels in Monterey

111 hotels in Monterey, California

1 Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

4 stars
4.8 / 5 9 reviews

400 Cannery Row Map

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa welcomes holidaymakers to elegant accommodations housed in a European architecture in this side of California. Guests at this centrally located hotel in Monterey can... More

2 Monterey Surf Inn

3 stars
3.0 / 5 3 reviews

1200 Munras Ave Map

Holidaymakers looking for a cosy retreat when exploring this Central California city book a stay at Monterey Surf Inn. Tourist at this Monterey motel can begin the tour by visiting nautical... More

3 Monterey Bay Travelodge

2 stars
4.5 / 5 2 reviews

2030 North Fremont Street Map

Ideal for business and leisure travellers, the Monterey Bay Travelodge lets you unwind, refresh and be yourself in a pleasant and relaxing environment. GeneralThe Monterey Bay Travelodge offers a... More

4 Hotel Abrego

3 stars
4.0 / 5 2 reviews

755 Abrego St. Map

Fall in love with Monterey, during your stay at the Hotel Abrego, which is in the heart of a place, where the old and the new add up to something truly special that makes it an ideal destination... More

5 Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

4 stars
3.8 / 5 4 reviews

2 Portola Plaza Map

Assuring high standards of comfort, discreet luxury and friendly atmosphere, this property is an ideal place for business as well as leisure travellers. GeneralConnected by the Portola Hotel's... More

6 Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa

3 stars
4.4 / 5 7 reviews

700 Munras Ave. Map

Whether in Monterey for business or for leisure, discerning travellers find an ideal base in the comfortable accommodations and quality services of Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa. Besides providing... More

7 Ramada Limited Monterey

2 stars
3.0 / 5 5 reviews

2058 N. Fremont St Map

Ramada Limited Monterey provides you all the convenient facilities required for a pleasant as well as relaxing stay. GeneralGuests can enjoy a refreshing dip at the swimming pool or relax at the... More

8 Good Nite Inn Salinas - Monterey - Carmel

2 stars
2.4 / 5 9 reviews

545 Work Street Map

Positioned in a beautiful historic old town district filled with unique boutiques and antique shops, this Inn is the perfect place for you to stay. GeneralSpacious parking space is also available... More

9 Days Inn Monterey Downtown

2 stars
4.3 / 5 4 reviews

850 Abrego Street Map

Featuring an elegant decor and warm hospitality, Days Inn Monterey Downtown welcomes you for an unforgettable vacation. GeneralThere is also a whirlpool available onsite for you to relax or enjoy... More

10 Americas Best Value Inn

2 stars
3.7 / 5 3 reviews

2201 Del Monte Blvd Map

Offering comfortable accommodation and quality services, this Americas Best Value Inn Seaside is an ideal place for a pleasant and enjoyable vacation. GeneralBusiness travellers can avail the... More