Best things to do in Monterey, founded on June 3, 1770, is a city located in Monterey County on the southern edge of Monterey bay on California’s Central Coast. It occupies a land area of 8,466 sq mi which was the capital of Alta California which is under both Spain and Mexico. In 1849 after Mexican-American war California was ceded to the U.S, the US flag was raised over the Customs House and Monterey hosted California’s first constitutional convention. Monterey hosted California’s first theater, public library, public building, printing press, newspaper and publicly funded school. There are many things to do in Monterey such as visiting beaches, aquarium, parks, whale watching, and many more.
10 Best Things to do in Monterey
1. Monterey Bay Aquarium
One of the things to do in Monterey is visit and experience sea life in Monterey bay aquarium. The bay aquarium sits at the end of Cannery Row. The entry costs $39.95 for adults, $34.95 for teens ages 13 to 17, and $24.95 for children ages 3 to 12. It has the open sea exhibit where sea turtles, seals, sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and school of fishes have thousands of gallons of water to explore. The aquarium has 45 interactive exhibits featuring birds, fish, octopi, reptiles and invertebrates as well as varieties of tours where some visitors is allowed to feed some sea life. Every age group can see and do things at the aquarium.
2. Asilomar State Beach
Asillomar State Beach is not so well known to everyone but is one of the things to do when visiting Monterey. The beach is 107 acre which is located in the Pacific Grove. It is a state park unit of California, USA which provides overnight lodging, views of the forest, surf and sand, and public access to dune habitat and rocky coast on the Monterey Peninsula. The beach has Asilomar Conference Grounds which is a conference center, now a National Historic Landmark which was built by the YWCA in 1913. One can even bicycle on the paved bike lane along the road which is running parallel to the Coast Trail.
3. Monterey State Historic Park
One of the things to do in Monterey is to visit the Monterey State Historic Park which is located at 20 Custom House, Monterey and enjoy tours of its beautiful gardens and historic buildings which date back to the 17th century. It is a complex of historic buildings which has some of the oldest structures in California, walkways and gardens that span two-miles. The gardens are opened up daily but the old adobe buildings can only be entered with a tour. The Spanish people fist landed in this historic park in 1602 and Monterey then became an important California’s capital and port.
4. Jacks Peak Park
Jacks Peak Park is one of the things to do in Monterey and is a gem of a place to be in hiking in nature which charges $2 per person for admission. It depends on the trail one takes to see across the Carmel Valley or maybe out across the Monterey bay from a vantage point as there are several choices of trails to choose from. One can even take a vehicle and drive up through the beautiful trees. One can even hike without a proper gear and can choose any tails to walk on like Skyline trail or others.
5. Carmel Beach
Carmel beach is a famous tourist destination and is one of the things to do in Monterey. It is neither rocky nor cold to be taking a walk in the perfectly white and soft sand of the beach. The view from Carmel beach is stunning and the beach is just not a flat piece of land but is hilly and even has dunes. The dune invites people to sit and watch the frolicking dogs and awesome surfers down below. Behind the Carmel beach has cypress trees and paths of colorful ice plant that can be explored after visiting the beach. Barbecuing is also allowed.
6. Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trial
The Coastal Recreation Trial of Monterey Bay is one of the great hiking trails and is one of the things to do in Monterey for visitors. This place has popular hiking trail along the Monterey Coast and Pacific Grove and parallels the bay with great amazing view. The ground is litter free, has well maintained grounds and there are police patrolling for visitors safety. One can experience otters and seals in water, sea birds, crashing waves, craggy coastline, trees whipped into fantastic shapes by Pacific breezes. There is plenty of room for walkers, bikers, runners and strollers.
7. Seal Watching
One of the main attractions of Monterey is seal watching. There are 34 species of marine mammals like seals, harbor seals, sea lions, dolphins, sea otters, and whales. The land mammals can be seen getting sun on the rocks and relaxing on the boats in the harbors. Spring is a nice and special time to view the mammals as it is the birthing season. By April the beaches of the Monterey Peninsula becomes home to mom seals and their babies. The visitors are made to view the seals behind the fences as mother seal gets easily alarmed from loud noises and babies gets separated from their mothers.
8. Go Whale Watching
Besides watching seals on the land many visitors take boats to go whale watching as it is one of the things to do in Monterey. There are two seasons for whale watching which are late spring, summer and fall that is from April to mid-December and winter and early spring that is from mid-December to March. In winter and early spring one can watch Dolphins and gray whales and in are late spring, summer and fall one can watch blue whales, humpback whales and dolphins. People take tour packages to go whale and dolphin watching when they visit Monterey.
9. Cannery Row
Cannery Row is a shopping free neighborhood type area which is anchored by the Monterey bay Aquarium. It is the epicenter of Monterey’s tourism industry even though there are many attractive areas to explore. The Cannery Row has boutique hotels, restaurants, and shops besides the seaside avenue which attracts thousands of travelers each year. But due to tourist crowd and over priced products the charms of Cannery row has decreased said by John Steinbeck in his novel “Cannery Row” in 1945. This place has a multicultural history of immigrants from Asia and Europe who had came there to work in the fisheries and canneries.
10. Go Wine Tasting
Monterey provides fine wine tasting for wine lovers with a great view of Monterey. The Taste of Monterey wine bar and bistro, has more than 90 wines from the Monterey area. It is located near the aquarium on the second floor of old cannery. Similarly Carmel is home to 14 wine tasting rooms of wineries from Monterey’s surrounding area. Wine tasting is a popular thing to do in Monterey. Awarded by Wine Enthusiast in 2013 as a top wine travel destination is the Monterey wine region which includes eight sub-AVAs that vary according to climate. The winner wines are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.