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Reviewed on 8 Jan 2019
Situated near King City, in Monterey County, California, Mesa Del Rey Airport was used as a pilot training airfield for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Now open to the public, the small airport has one runway. It is mainly used for small private aircraft and helicopters.
Mesa Del Rey airport has a public telephone, restrooms, a pilot lounge/snooze room and parking facilities. There are no restaurants at the airport, so you'll need to bring your own food and drink, and the best way to travel to and from the airport is by car – Mesa Del Rey is a short drive from King City, and about 75 minutes from the centre of Monterey.
You’ll find several hotels and motels close to Mesa Del Rey Airport, mostly in the two-star range. Options include budget inns on nearby Highway 101, and a number of good-value hotels in King City. For more upmarket Mesa Del Rey accommodation, you’ll need to look further afield – there are a number of three and four-star properties in Monterey and Marina, including some beachfront resorts.
While King City itself doesn't offer many tourist attractions, it's just a 40-minute drive from Mesa Del Rey airport to the newly-designated Pinnacles National Park, a popular spot for hikers, climbers and stargazers. Known for its dramatic crags and cave formations, Pinnacles National Park offers more than 30 miles of walking trails that range from easy child-friendly routes to day-long strenuous treks for seasoned hikers.
Picture-postcard Carmel-by-the-Sea is 70 miles from the airport and is frequently hailed as a top 10 destination in the United States, thanks to its white-sand beach and European-style village. It’s home to a wide range of shops, restaurants and art galleries, and you can enjoy wine tasting in one of the town's 19 tasting rooms and wine bars, all within walking distance of each other.
Near Carmel is the coastal city of Pacific Grove, where you can take a tour of Point Pinos lighthouse, one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the US. The nearby Asilomar State Beach and Lovers Point Beach are ideal for kayakers, swimmers and surfers. Visit during autumn and winter to see the annual migration of thousands of Monarch butterflies who cluster together on the pines and eucalyptus trees of the Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
If you're bringing your kids, stop by Dennis the Menace Park, an hour's drive from the airport. Designed in 1956 by Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketcham, the park features bridges and tunnels, a long rollerslide and a real train engine to climb on.
A 90-minute drive from the airport is Monterey Bay, famous for its world-class aquarium and for being immortalised by author John Steinbeck in his novel Cannery Row. Spend a day exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which houses 35,000 creatures in 34 galleries, including sunfish, sea otters, hammerhead sharks and green sea turtles. To see wildlife in their natural habitat, visit Fisherman's Wharf where you can spot sea otters, seals and pelicans lounging about on the waterfront of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Built in 1845, Fisherman's Wharf is abuzz with shops and seafood restaurants. Whale-watching boat trips depart daily from here year-round.
If you've hired a car, cruise the spectacular 17-Mile Drive, which is part of the exclusive 5,300-acre Pebble Beach resort that's dotted with huge mansions and golf courses.