Got just 2 hours to spend in Monterey, California? No problem. Here’s our best ideas for getting the most of your tour to this charming and historic seaside gem.
1. Dip into Monterey Bay Aquarium.
This aquarium is also one of the leading ocean conservation organizations in the world. Sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish and other fishy creatures roam in millions of gallons of water while being checked out by young and old. Tip: Ask about the feeding times for otters and sharks!
2. Make your own history on Cannery Row.
As you head south on the Coastal Trail you’ll walk in the footsteps of John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson! Be on the lookout for “Doc’s Lab” at 800 Cannery Row. Among the century old buildings, check out the world-class restaurants, spas and galleries. The Pebble Beach Outlet Store is awesome for golfers. Pick up a gift at the Cannery Row Antique Mall.
3. Explore an underwater park at Lovers’ Point.
This small protected area covers less than square mile but is teeming with wildlife. The beach here is used by harbor seals for pupping and dense coastal kelp provides shelter for sea otters. The perfect spot for an afternoon picnic, launching a kayak or trying your hand at California-inspired beach volleyball!
4. Cheers! Monterey County has wineries on par with the best from Napa Valley.
Try the olallieberry wine at the Pierce Wine Tasting Room (499 Wave St)! The breathtaking ocean views at Bargetto or Carmel Ridge make the wines taste even better (both are inside the Monterey Canning Company building at 700 Cannery Row).
5. Brake for wildlife on the 17-mile Drive.
This coastline-hugging road between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach is uber-scenic. Take it slow to spot deer, sea otters, seals, shore birds & more! When you see signs for The Lone Cypress, pull over for selfies. Into golf? The Pebble Beach Lodge should be on your bucket list!
6. Get surreal at Dali17.
Located at the Museum of Monterey, the exhibition is the first permanent West Coast exhibition of Salvador Dali and features over 580 works including lithographs, etchings, rare sculptures and tapestries. Monterey was the only place outside of Spain where Dali lived and painted.
7. Explore Old Fisherman’s Wharf.
Until 60 years ago, the wharf was a market for fishermen from Portugal, China, Japan, and Sicily. Today, the only fish for sale are stewed into the clam chowder being sampled along the whalebone (yes, WHALEBONES!) boardwalk. Afterwards, pick yourself a caramel apple at Carousel Candies. Best ever!
8. Get face to face with whales, sea lions, otters and more.
Monterey Bay a.k.a., the “Whale Watching Capital of the World”. Its deep canyon is used by migrating Gray and Humpback Whales and its waters attract many other marine species. Did I mention killer whales and sharks? Spring is birthing season for seals—look for (but stay clear of) moms and their new babies.
Explore Monterey on your own or join a day trip from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel!