Monterey Visitor Guide 2023: Everything you need to know
Located on the central coast of California, Monterey is a city that simply oozes charm. Its location on the shore of the Pacific Ocean is second to none, and the city is known as a great place to surf and indulge in other classic Californian water sports. But it's the beguiling charm of the place that really sets it apart. Home to a famous aquarium, the town was immortalized by writer John Steinbeck and remains something of an artist's colony to this day.
Monterey offers an alternative to hectic trips in busy cities. Soak up the West Coast charm on the beautiful beaches of Monterey, and you'll be living the true Californian dream. This outdoor lover's paradise is the perfect place to explore on your next West Coast adventure.
A weekend in Monterey
The slow pace of Monterey is part of its charm. Spending a weekend in the city will be enough to give you a good sense of what it has to offer. But don't forget to sniff the roses. Drop your unneeded bags off with a Monterey luggage storage service and immerse yourself in Californian charm.
- Carmel Beach is one of Monterey's most legendary destinations. This sprawling stretch of white sand along the Pacific Ocean has to be seen to be believed. Popular with both locals and visitors, it's the perfect place to soak up the sunshine and splash around in the water.
- Monterey Bay aquarium is well-known as of the city's top attractions. Focusing on the aquatic life of the region, it was the first aquarium in the world to have a living kelp forest. Sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish are fascinating animals to observe, and the cuddly sea otters are one of the most popular species in the aquarium.
- Cannery Row runs along the Monterey waterfront and was once the center of the local sardine canning industry. However, the last cannery closed in the early 1970s. Since then, the area has been revitalized. It's now the place to come for fresh seafood in any of a number of waterfront restaurants.
Spend any length of time in Monterey, and you'll feel the laid-back vibe sinking into your soul. Wandering along the seafront promenade or relaxing on the beach are all worthy pastimes, but you'll enjoy them much more if you don't carry more than you need to. Leave your bags behind at a Monterey bag storage so you can make the most of your trip.
Off the beaten path in Monterey
Monterey is hardly a hidden gem, and if you visit in the summer, you'll find plenty of tourists from across the country and around the world. But if you're looking for something a little different, Monterey offers some unusual sites that are well worth exploring.
- See the oldest government building in California at Monterey's customhouse. Built in the 1820s back when California was part of Mexico, the customhouse is preserved the way it would've been in the 19th century.
- Most of us will never get to visit the moon, but in Monterey, there's a tree that has. In 1971, astronaut Stuart Roosa took seeds to the moon as part of an experiment to see if the radiation in space would affect their growth. Monterey received one of the seeds and planted it in Friendly Plaza. Today, this impressive redwood is known as the Moon Tree.
- Appreciate the history of shipping at the Point Sur Lightstation. This lighthouse was built in 1889 and has protected ships from the rocky coast ever since. The lighthouse is open for tours, and the view of the ocean from this historic landmark is worth a visit by itself.
What to do alone in Monterey
With its laid-back charm and small-town feel, Monterey is a great place to explore by yourself. Whatever brings you to town alone, you will find friendly locals and lots of attractions to keep you busy. Drop your bags off at a Monterey luggage storage locker and enjoy what Monterey has to offer solo travelers.
- Enjoy a solo tour of the magnificent California coastline on 17 Mile Drive. This famous road offers one stunning vista after another. Feel the wind in your hair as you travel along one of California's most iconic routes.
- Take a stroll along Fisherman's Wharf and visit the sunbathing seals that frequent the area. This is also a great place for restaurants and souvenir shops, or you can even embark on a whale-watching tour to see some of California's wildest and largest residents.
- See awe-inspiring rock formations at Pinnacles National Park. The weathered cliffs in the park go back 23 million years, and the many trails of the park are perfect for exploring either by yourself or with others.
The best souvenirs in Monterey
Monterey lies within the California wine region, one of the world's top producing wine regions. You'll find California wine just about everywhere you go, and it makes a great gift to bring home with you. Or for another classic California coastal treat, pick up some saltwater taffy at Candy World near Fisherman's Wharf. Monterey also has a great local art scene, and you can delve into it at Venture Gallery, where you may discover some new favorites.