Best things to do in Monterey, California

Updated: December 18, 2018 This website uses cookies, ads and affiliate links.

Jellyfish at the Monterey Aquarium.I have written recently about Big Sur and I couldn’t resist writing about Monterey. For one thing if you have driven all the way to the small town of Big Sur you can might as well drive to Carmel and then a little further to Monterey. If you have the time to do this drive, you will be rewarded by gorgeous scenery on the 17 mile drive and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In addition you will get to experience an old town feeling when walking on the Old Canery Road.

My favorite things to do in Monterey, California

  • Drive around the Monterey peninsula from the Monterey Bay Aquarium towards Lover’s Point and continue around the tip all the way to the North entrance to the 17 mile Drive.
  • Drive along the 17 Mile Drive. It costs about $10 as far as I remember, but it’s worth every penny. Best way is from Monterey to Carmel.
  • Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It hosts one of the largest fish tanks in the world.
  • Walk around Old Cannery Road
  • Stroll around Fishermen’s Wharf and sample lots of Clam Chouder from the various restaurants. Pay attention to the abundant wildlife as well.
  • Relax on the Monterey Municipal Beach. This is a great beach for small children because the water is very shallow.

Drive along the Monterey Peninsula and stop often

My favorite thing to do in Monterey is to drive from Monterey Aquarium to Lovers’ Point and continue around the peninsula. Some people ask what is the big deal about driving around the coast? It’s just rocks and water ! Well that may be true, but the same people who say that will not say it anymore after driving on the 17 Mile Drive in Monterey. It’s like the Big Sur area concentrated in a smaller area.

Monterey Bay coastline and beach in Monterey, California.
Monterey Bay coastline and beach in Monterey, California.
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The 17 Mile drive in Monterey is just spectacular at every turn

Next on my list of things to do in Monterey, has to do driving again. This time, driving the world famous 17 Mile Drive, is one experience that most Californians want to accomplish at least once during their lives. If you happen to be in Monterey on a sunny and clear day, you will find the Monterey Peninsula simply breathtaking. The ocean views and the many birds you can see are just delightful. We found ourselves stopping very often. So the short 17 mile drive turned into more than an hour drive because of the many stops we were making and the many pictures we were taking.

Beautiful ocean scenery on the Seventeen Mile Drive in Monterey, California.
Beautiful ocean scenery on the 17 Mile Drive in Monterey, California.
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Look for birds, sea lions, dolphins and whales

As we drove around the peninsula and stopping at every bend in the road we kept seeing lots of birds everywhere. I think they like the rocks that stick out of the ocean. Some of the larger rocks were filled with birds. It looks like the birds find lots of spots to lay eggs.

A lonely seagull on the 17 mile drive in Monterey, California.
A lonely seagull on the 17 mile drive in Monterey, California.
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Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium

This is a must visit attraction in Monterey. It’s great for children and adults. It boasts one of the largest aquariums in the world and you can easily spend the whole day studying the fish and ocean animals shown on display.

A sea otter playing at the Monterey Aquarium in Monterey, California.
A sea otter playing at the Monterey Aquarium in Monterey, California.
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How to get to Monterey, California

The easiest way to get to Monterey from Silicon Valley is to take the 17 Highway from the 85 Freeway. You’ll pass through Santa Cruz and then keep driving down the 1 Highway (Pacific Coast Highway) all the way to Monterey. If you come from the 101 freeway just take the 156 Highway that will also take you to Highway 1 which will take you to Monterey.

Map of Monterey, California and surrounding areas.

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