Monterey is one of the most unique towns on the entire coast of California. Parts of it seem like a charming old surf town, while other parts feel like a chic, modern city in California. No matter where you find yourself in Monterey, you will appreciate that the town is strongly committed to preserving the natural habitat and ocean as well as the historic streets and coastal way of life. This guide to Monterey shows you four of the best attractions this Pacific Coast gem has to offer.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
No visit to Monterey is complete without going to the world-famous aquarium. In fact, you should consider planning your itinerary around a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s located right on the water along Cannery Row, and it can get crowded on weekends and late in the afternoon. Your best bet is to explore the aquarium during the day and then grab some food and enjoy an epic sunset from the area.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium houses over 600 fish species and exactly one mammal species, a sea otter. The aquarium is educational and awe-inspiring, and the organization does so much to preserve the surrounding habitat and to rehabilitate species in need.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is in the heart of Cannery Row, and there is much more to see before you leave the area. The old cannery buildings have since been converted to restaurants, shops, hotels, and historic attractions. This is a great jumping-off point for the rest of your trip. From Cannery Row, you can hire a fishing guide or rent a kayak. At either end of the row, you’ll find popular public beaches, making it a central place to be.
Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail
This 18-mile paved road is one of the best ways to see the rugged Monterey coast. It’s popular among tourists and locals alike. You can walk or bike right along the ocean, where you might even see some sea otters. The great thing about the trail is that it’s very accessible and safe. You can do short walks from your car or bike the entire length of it.
If you’re on the California coast, you’d better spend at least one day lounging on the beach. Sunbathers are spoiled for choice in Monterey. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to scuba dive, snorkel, surf, or kayak, the beaches near Cannery Row are the most convenient. At Macabee or San Carlos beaches, you can rent all the gear you need for whatever sport you choose. Remember to rent a wetsuit, too, because it can get quite chilly.
As you drive along the coast or walk along the Coastal Recreational Trail, you might find your own empty beach. There is a lot of sandy real estate in Monterey, so you won’t have trouble finding your ideal spot.
Monterey is quite compact, and you can easily enjoy all four of these activities within a few days, with minimal driving.