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Pocket Guide: Monterey

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Situated on California's rugged central coast, laid-back Monterey is famous for its world-class aquarium, its annual jazz festival, and for being immortalised by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck in his novel Cannery Row – you’ll find a bronze bust of him on Prescott Avenue. Monterey boasts a range of one- to four-star hotels, many of which are situated within walking distance of the city's top attractions. Look on Cannery Row itself for luxury hotels with sea views, south of Fisherman's Wharf for good value inns and motels, and in the Sand City area for beach resorts.

Shopping and Attractions on Monterey’s Cannery Row

Waterfront street Cannery Row's sardine-canning business collapsed after World War II, but many old cannery buildings have been transformed into restaurants, art galleries and independent shops. It’s a great place for wine fans too – this is the beating heart of California's wine country, and Cannery Row is lined with boutique tasting rooms where you can sample hand-crafted wines from Monterey vineyards.

Also on Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of California’s top attractions. Teeming with everything from sunfish to sea otters, this enormous aquarium is home to a whopping 35,000 creatures in 34 galleries. Younger visitors will love the petting tanks and the twice-daily penguin feeding shows. Stand-out exhibits include the huge Open Sea tank and the jellyfish tanks, which are illuminated by fluorescent lights.

Explore Fisherman’s Wharf

From Cannery Row, rent a segway or take a stroll along the pretty Recreation Trail to 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 packed with independent shops, and has a wealth of restaurants serving seafood specialities. Whale watching boat trips depart daily from here year-round; visitors can expect to see humpbacks, blue whales and gray whales, and if you're lucky - fin or minke whales. Deep-sea fishing trips are also on offer. Hotels to suit all budgets can be found within walking distance of this buzzy area.

Events and Activities in Monterey

Perfect for those with a taste for adventure, sporting activities in the area include kayaking, surfing and golf. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is popular with scuba divers thanks to its kelp forests and abundance of marine life.

Jazz enthusiasts should visit the city on the third weekend of September for its annual three-day jazz festival, which attracts big-name stars. Established in 1958, the major event is one of the world's longest-running jazz festivals. Past artists on the bill have included Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday.

Self-Drive Adventures in Monterey

Monterey is the jumping off point for the most spectacular stretch of California's famous Highway One. Drive south of Monterey to discover hundreds of miles of rugged coastline, pretty seaside towns, vineyards and redwood forests. If you don't have time for such a long drive, hire a car to cruise along the spectacular 17-Mile Drive, which is part of the exclusive 5,300-acre Pebble Beach resort.