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Guide to Monterey Outdoors

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The Monterey area is bursting with outdoor adventure opportunities. From surfing to sailing to kayaking, you name it, and you can do it here. If you want to get below the waves, there are some great scuba sights, and there are plenty of on land activities as well, from biking to hiking to the always welcome stroll into the sunset.

Good for
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

16 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

16 Places

17-Mile Drive

Scenic Drives

Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail

Biking Trails

Adventures by the Sea

Sightseeing Tours

Lovers Point Park

Parks

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Aquariums

Cannery Row

Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Breakwater

Beaches, Nature & Wildlife Areas

Glenn's Aquarius II Dive Shop

Scuba & Snorkeling

Old Fisherman's Wharf

Neighbourhoods, Piers & Boardwalks

Princess Monterey Whale Watching

Dolphin & Whale Watching

Randy's Fishing Trips and Whale Watching Trips

Dolphin & Whale Watching

Monterey Bay Sailing

Boat Tours

The Wharf Marketplace

Other Food & Drink

Point Lobos

Beaches, Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Hiking Trails

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Nature & Wildlife Areas

Kayak Connection

Kayaking & Canoeing, Nature & Wildlife Tours

cara f's City Tips

  • Monterey, like all of California, is experiencing a drought. Please be mindful of water use and of any fire use, including cigarettes.
  • The Monterey Bay is a protected preserve, so you must not remove any animals or shells. Please keep to the old adage, "take only pictures, leave only footprints."
  • The weather in Monterey is unpredictable. It could be chilly and foggy or hot and sunny (sometimes within the same afternoon). Always carry an extra layer, plus a hat and sunscreen.
  • 17-Mile Drive
    Scenic Drives
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Winding along California's rugged coastline from Pacific Grove down to Pebble Beach, the famed 17-Mile Drive is the perfect introduction to the wonderful Monterey Bay area. It is called a 'drive,' but this area is also popular with cyclists. However you choose to traverse it, though, you'll be treated to crashing waves, opulent mansions, and myriad turnouts for photo ops and beach strolls. There is a 'per car' fee to enter any of the drive's five gates, but cyclists my cruise the route for free.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Often overlooked is the fine print on your receipt: If you dine at one of the restaurants on the drive, show your entrance receipt to have your entrance fee credited against your food purchase.
    • The best time of day for the drive is early afternoon, after the coastal fog burns off.
    • On a budget? You can cruise the coast for free via Ocean View Blvd, which runs from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Asilomar Beach.
    • Must-see stops along the way include the Lone Cypress, Fanshell Overlook, and Spanish Bay.
    • Bring along a picnic and stop to enjoy it at the picnic area between Point Joe and Seal Rock.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice drive! 22/10/2018
    • Beautiful Drive for Couples 21/10/2018
    • 17-Mile Drive
    Phone:
    +1 800-654-9300
    Other:
  • Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail
    Biking Trails
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    The Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail is a paved, multi-use, off-street trail that runs from Lover's Point in Pacific Grove through Monterey and all the way to Seaside in the south. It's a popular trail, and can accommodate everything from bikers and walkers to wheel chairs and strollers.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • On busy days, the trail can become congested. Go early in the morning when there is less traffic.
    • Make sure you take your time to look at the wonderful artwork and information markers along the way. They tell of the history of the area.
    • A popular ride or walk is from Lover's Point to Cannery Row.
    • Feeling adventurous? Take the trail all the way to Imjin Parkway, about a 15-mile ride.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful trail! 08/10/2018
    • Pretty nice views 17/09/2018
    • Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail
    Phone:
    +1 831-646-3866
    Other:
  • Adventures by the Sea
    Sightseeing Tours
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Adventures by the Sea rents out kayaks, bikes, and mulit-person surreys so that you can get out and Bikes are great for the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, or you can put a kayak in right at Lovers Point.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The waves around this part of the coast can be quite big. If you are a novice kayaker, ask for tips on the best place to launch.
    • If you're traveling with a group and have little ones or others who aren't very active, consider a surrey. They seat multiple people (with multiple sets of pedals), so they are a good way to get on a bike without too much challenge.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 42 Tours in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A must! 21/10/2018
    • Great trip with Jan 11/10/2018
    • Adventures by the Sea
    Address:
    299 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1442
    Phone:
    +1 831-372-1807
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
    Other:
  • Lovers Point Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    This beach and park is popular with locals and visitors alike. It's got lots of grassy areas for picnics, and the small cove makes for some wonderful sunbathing or splashing in the surf. Since this little cove is protected from some of the bigger surf, it is also a good place to put your kayak in, or to take a shore dive.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is a little snack shop at the park where you can pick up coffee or other treats.
    • There are a number of parking spots around this area, some big enough for a small recreational vehicle.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 31 things to do in Pacific Grove
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Don't get caught feeding the ground squirrels 14/10/2018
    • Post wedding picnic! 08/10/2018
    • Lovers Point Park
    Address:
    Ocean View Boulevard and 17th Street
    Pacific Grove, CA
    Phone:
    +1 831-648-5730
    Other:
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    Aquariums
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Monterey has some excellent dive spots, but if you don't have the time or interest in diving, you can get your underwater experience at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This acclaimed facility showcases many of the animals you would see while diving here, and there is also a wonderful outdoor area where you can enjoy views of the bay.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Look for special guide-led talks and discussions, and check the schedule for the penguin feedings!
    • A fun way to reach the aquarium is by taking a short bike ride from Lover's Point.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Never on Weekend 22/10/2018
    • Great Place 21/10/2018
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    Address:
    886 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1085
    Phone:
    +1 831-648-4800
    Hours:
    Wed
    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Thu - Tue
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Cannery Row
    Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    In 1908, Monterey's first cannery opened on Ocean View Avenue. Shortly thereafter, World War I started, and with it came a major demand for easy packaged foods, such as sardines. Though the area fell into decline after World War II, John Steinbeck's 1945 novel of the same name immortalized Cannery Row and its industrial heyday. Today the historic area is still bustling, but now with tourists shopping and eating out at the myriad establishments here. This is a good place to enjoy views of the bay, and to get a sense of the area's history.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Looking for a secluded beach hideaway? Check out little McAbee Beach just behind the Spindrift Inn.
    • Look out for the signs around the area that tell more about Cannery Row's history.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting Shopping & Eats 21/10/2018
    • Touristy but worth a strolll while in Monterey 20/10/2018
    • Cannery Row
    Address:
    Cannery Row & Wave Streets
    Monterey, CA 93940
    Phone:
    +1 831-649-6690
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
    Other:
  • Breakwater
    Beaches, Nature & Wildlife Areas
    cara f Says:

    San Carlos Beach and the Breakwater Cove are nestled at the end of Cannery Row, near the Coast Guard Wharf. Mostly enjoyed by locals, this public beach is a very popular place for barbecues and picnicking. Its broad expanse of grass opposite the sandy shoreline is a perfect place to lounge the day away. Breakwater cove is a great local dive sight, so you'll likely see a scuba class or two (depending on the weather).

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Less than a block away, toward Foam Street, you'll find an area for RV parking (note that overnight stays are not permitted).
    • There are public restrooms on the north side of the beach, toward Cannery Row.
    • The wharf here is generally packed with sea lions and cormorants jostling to see who will be king of the wharf. Go down and watch them for a spell!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #24 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    • Great diving 05/09/2018
    • Lots of wildlife and sea lions sunning. 04/12/2017
  • Glenn's Aquarius II Dive Shop
    Scuba & Snorkeling
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Located right next to the Coast Guard Wharf at Breakwater Cove, Glenn's Dive shop is your one-stop shop for all diving (and snorkeling) needs. The shop offers a full line of rental equipment, as well as PADI certified training.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Didn't bring your dive buddy? Glenn's can hook you up (for a fee). Remember, never dive alone!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 23 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Monterey
    • Best in Monterey! 23/03/2016
    • Friendly and Helpful 31/03/2015
    • Glenn's Aquarius II Dive Shop
    Address:
    32 Cannery Row
    Monterey, CA 93940-1447
    Phone:
    +1 831-375-6605
    Other:
  • Old Fisherman's Wharf
    Neighbourhoods, Piers & Boardwalks
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    You can walk or bike the short distance from Cannery Row to the Old Fisherman's Wharf, and you'll be rewarded for the journey with some outstanding views of marine life. Here sea lions lounge in strange positions on the rocks, and you're also likely to spot pelicans, cormorants, and perhaps an otter or three. When you arrive at the Wharf, you'll also be greeted with an eclectic collection of funky shops, seafood eateries, and amusements.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Fisherman's Wharf is famous for its clam chowder — try some (samples are free!).
    • This is also the place to find out about whale watching cruises, fishing charters, and bay sailing.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Wharf 21/10/2018
    • Monterrey Fishermans Wharf - pretty neat touristy spot 19/10/2018
    • Old Fisherman's Wharf
    Phone:
    +1 831-649-6544
    Other:
  • Princess Monterey Whale Watching
    Dolphin & Whale Watching
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Several types of whales migrate through Monterey Bay, making this a wonderful place to go whale watching in almost any month of the year. Depending on the time of the year (and luck), you might see Humpbacks, Grays, Blue's, Fins, and more. There are a variety of companies offering whale watching tours, most with experienced guides who can help you get the most from your experience.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Kids under five and expectant mothers are not allowed on most whale watching tours.
    • The cruise boat cannot get too close to a whale, but many times the whales are so curious, they come to you! When this happens, the cruise cannot continue until the whale moves on.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 23 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wonderful and Amazing 22/10/2018
    • A must! 22/10/2018
    • Princess Monterey Whale Watching
    Address:
    96 Fishermans Wharf # 1
    Monterey, CA 93940-2429
    Phone:
    +1 831-372-2203
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Other:
  • Randy's Fishing Trips and Whale Watching Trips
    Dolphin & Whale Watching
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Whether you're a serious fisherman or just looking for a fun experience, a fishing adventure is certain to add fun memories to your trip, especially when you spot whales, to boot. There are several fishing companies that will take you out and help you reel in the 'big one.' Depending on the season, that might be halibut, cod, salmon, crab, or squid.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Dungeness Crab is a local favorite, and the season starts in November.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 23 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Monterey
    • Sand dabs and crab 31/03/2017
    • Wonderful whale watching 21/01/2017
    • Randy's Fishing Trips and Whale Watching Trips
    Address:
    66 Fishermans Wharf # 1
    Monterey, CA 93940-2429
    Phone:
    +1 800-251-7440
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • Monterey Bay Sailing
    Boat Tours
    cara f Says:

    Few things are finer than watching the sunset from a sailboat, beverage in hand. Sailing cruises offer fabulous sailing experiences, many with food included.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • These are popular cruises, so book ahead by at least a day.
    • It can get chilly out on the water, especially as the sun sets. Bring a sweater!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 23 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Too short 02/10/2018
    • Beautiful sunset cruise perfect for the whole family! 30/09/2018
    • Monterey Bay Sailing
    Address:
    78 Fishermans Wharf # 1
    Monterey, CA 93940-2429
    Phone:
    +1 831-372-7245
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Other:
  • The Wharf Marketplace
    Other Food & Drink
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Converted from an old railway terminal (built in 1874), The Wharf Marketplace is a beautiful deli and market. Whether you're planning to hang at Monterey State Beach (just across the parking lot) are are venturing farther afield, this is a great place to grab a hot breakfast and pick up some picnic fixings.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The marketplace has some great family-style offerings if you're traveling with a group.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 77 things to do in Monterey
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Permanently closed 23/09/2018
    • A walk by the wharf 02/09/2018
    • The Wharf Marketplace
    Address:
    290 Figueroa St
    Monterey, CA 93940-2422
    Phone:
    +1 831-649-1116
    Hours:
    Tue
    7:00 AM - 2:00 PM
    Wed - Mon
    7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • Point Lobos
    Beaches, Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Hiking Trails
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    If you have the time (and a car), make the trip seven miles south to Point Lobos. This Natural Reserve is considered the 'crown jewel' of the State Park system — for reasons that become obvious when you arrive. In addition to spectacular beauty and incredible ocean views, the park is home to many unique plant species. Folks come here to picnic, paint, and hike the more than a dozen trails. It's definitely one of the most scenic parks on the California coast.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park gets busy during the summer and weekend and only has 150 parking spaces inside the reserve. Get there early, or plan on parking carefully along the highway outside the park.
    • You can scuba dive Point Lobos, but you need a special permit. Check online for more information.
    • In the spring (usually in April), the harbor seals come ashore here to birth their pups. It's a treat to see, if you can make it during this time. (But please be conscious of the seals, and keep quiet to not scare them.)
    • The old whaler's cabin here is now a small museum. It's worth stopping in to learn more about the history of this area.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 114 things to do in Carmel
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Weekend getaway 22/10/2018
    • Love this park!!! 21/10/2018
    • Point Lobos
    Address:
    Point Lobos Rd
    Carmel-By-The-Sea
    Carmel, CA 93923
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
  • Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
    Nature & Wildlife Areas
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Halfway (about 23 miles) between Monterey and Santa Cruz, you'll find the Elkhorn Slough Estuarine Reserve. The slough, a meandering waterway that supports many marine animals and birds, is very popular with kayakers. Visitors come here to relax in a rich and protected environment while watching the birds and other sea life.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • While you're here, check out the shops and restaurants of Moss Landing.
    • Many guided tours and talks are available. Check online for times and days.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 17 things to do in Moss Landing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Gorgeous! Fantastic! 13/10/2018
    • Diefinitely worth a visit 02/09/2018
    • Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
    Phone:
    +1 831-728-2822
    Other:
  • Kayak Connection
    Kayaking & Canoeing, Nature & Wildlife Tours
    See more photos
    cara f Says:

    Conveniently located at Elkhorn Slough, the Kayak Connection is ready to get you set up to enjoy your day at the Slough. The company rents kayaks and stand up paddle boards, and also offers instruction — a great way to get some expert field knowledge.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It's best to call ahead and reserve your equipment and/or tours. There are two Kayak Connections, so make sure you call the one in Elkhorn Slough.
    • Ask the good folks at the Kayak Connection about the best times to put in is and turn around. Going with the currents makes kayaking much easier.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 17 things to do in Moss Landing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • It was everything that they said it would be 13/09/2018
    • local treat! 21/08/2018
    • Kayak Connection
    Address:
    2370 Highway 1
    Moss Landing, CA 95039-9642
    Phone:
    +1 831-724-5692
    Other:
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