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Things to Do in Monterey California

Updated on July 31, 2017

Monterey is a beautiful and modest town on the Central Coast of California, decorated with gorgeous Cypress trees, constantly refreshed with a cool ocean breeze and blessed with exquisite oceanic scenery. Often you can smell the reinvigorating scent of Eucalyptus wafted by the sweet ocean air.

The town is visited by people around the world, attracted to its mellow Mediterranean climate and pleasant attractions.

Once you've been romanced by the majestic environment that is Monterey, what is there to do?


Jelly-fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Jelly-fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. | Source

Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of the fairly recent developments in Monterey was the building and opening of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The site features the lovely and sometimes imposing sea life of Monterey. Not that you can't see the wildlife out on the ocean almost everywhere you go in Monterey. However, the Aquarium offers views of this sea life, with an educational experience along with the ambiance of the exhibits.

The Location of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

monterey bay aquarium:
Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, USA

get directions

Cannery Row

Cannery Row, made famous by novelist John Steinbeck, is located down the street from the Aquarium. Maybe after your trip to the Aquarium, you could take a stroll through Cannery Row to check out the gift shops, restaurants and even stop for a drink at a pub.

The area is historic, site of old fish canneries that employed many people during the Depression. Definitely worth giving a look. One of my favorite shops there sells a multitude of cigars, of which you can sample in their smoke room. My favorite was the strawberry flavored.

Things To Do in Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Cannery Row
Fisherman's Wharf
Live exhibits of sea life. Educational and stimulating.
Shops, restaurants and bars.
Shops, restaurants and boat trips.
No fee
No fee
Fisherman's Wharf at night.
Fisherman's Wharf at night. | Source

Fisherman's Wharf

Probably one of the most popular attractions at Monterey, Fisherman's wharf has lovely restaurants with tasty food caught fresh from the sea, a glass-bottom boat ride and plenty of shops to get trinkets. Snacks abound and you're liable to catch some very good street entertainment too, along with great artists who sit and create for your amusement.

Look for some very decent clam chowder served in a bread bowl. It's fantastic!

You can view the sea otters, sea gulls and other creatures of the ocean all along the wharf for free. Doesn't get better than that.

In addition, there are various historical sites you will see in the vicinity, some of the oldest sites in California. Look around. You also might catch one of the many cultural festivals that occur in the Monterey area that are often held by the wharf.

You will also have the opportunity to stroll along the beach just adjacent to the wharf, and it's very refreshing after a tour of the wharf to take a dip in the ocean.

The wharf is pure enjoyment!

Cannery Row.
Cannery Row. | Source

Lover's Point and Ocean View Blvd

Lover's Point is one of the loveliest beaches in the area, actually located in Pacific Grove which is right up against Monterey; it's almost like the same town.

Not only is the beach fantastic, but if you follow the road along the beach, called Ocean View Blvd, you will be traveling a very scenic and majestic ride along the ocean. The nicest thing about touring the scenery along this road is that there are spots along the side of the road where you can park, get out and sit on a bench to view the ocean or take a walk down the rocks to get a closer view.

Truly an exhilarating but relaxing adventure.

Lover's Point in Pacific Grove.
Lover's Point in Pacific Grove. | Source

California State University at Monterey Bay is located on the old Fort Ord army base grounds.

Fort Ord

If you're in for something a little unusual, it is a fascinating trip to tour the old grounds of the Army base called Fort Ord, located where the city of Seaside meets Monterey.

The base has been closed since the 1990s, so what you will see there now is primarily boarded up and abandoned army housing and training halls, among other things. It is fascinating, educational and gets the mind pondering.

Just fair warning: The site has been known to have left over munitions even under the ground, so it's best not to walk around in open fields. So, this spot is for the particularly adventuresome. However, I can tell you personally I've had no harm come to myself driving along the roads at Fort Ord, viewing abandoned buildings.

And as you continue up the road on the Fort Ord grounds you will eventually run into the California State University, at Monterey Bay. Often you can catch a fascinating lecture and I was even able to watch a great martial arts demonstration there. A true treat!

What is your favorite destination in Monterey?

See results

Fort Ord

So, is it any wonder Monterey is one of the most popular tourist spots in the world, attracting visitors across the globe, adding to its diversity and charm. The cool ocean breeze, the lovely surroundings and the entertaining activities will keep you coming back for more.


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    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      5 years ago from California, United States of America

      I totally agree, Barbara. It's a beautiful area with a lot to see and do there. I love Carmel Valley, one of my favorite places. I've spent a lot of time there, grew up on part of the Peninsula when I was a kid and lived in the area for several years as an adult. Glad you stopped by and it's good to see you here.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I love Monterey and had a lot of time to explore it when my in-laws lived in Carmel Valley and while we were trying to settle their estate. You cold stay there for a month and not see everything -- especially since so much more has been built since then.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      5 years ago from California, United States of America

      Hi, Glenn. I lived very close to Monterey, from 1976 to 1983, when I was a child, and I still remember when the Aquarium wasn't there yet. It truly is a beautiful area, definitely worth a visit.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      It's been a long time ago, but I was in Monterey back in the mid-80s. I remember going to the American Tin Cannery. The Aquarium wasn't there yet, which now is down the block as you mentioned. Your hub makes me want to go back. I loved it then and I'm sure it's even better now.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      6 years ago from California, United States of America

      Thanks, Bill. Yes, it's one of my favorite little cities, love it much.

      Hi, American Choices. Yes, that area has some great car shows and I'd almost forgotten about the racing. I lived around the Central Coast for quite awhile and loved visiting Monterey on days off. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • American_Choices profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      There is a weekend in Monterey that I call the "platinum weekend" because it is in August and it is a car aficionados dream from elite car shows to races and much more. Excellent article of how to diversify your holiday experience when in Monterey. Thank you for the fantastic tips!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I haven't been there in a very long time, but when I was I found it a beautiful city to visit. Nice job highlighting the sites. :)


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