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Discover one of California’s most beautiful coastal cities, known for its fabulous aquarium and for being the setting for a famous John Steinbeck novel. 

Located along the rugged coastline of California, the oceanfront settlement of Monterey exudes seaside charm. Play on the dunes at public beaches, observe sea lions at the wharfs and embark on scenic walks along the coastal cliffs.

Get acquainted with the history of this coastal city, which was originally founded by the Spanish in 1770. Wander around Old Monterey and be on the look out for the Path of History plaques, which are placed along the sidewalk and point toward the landmark historical buildings.

During the earlier half of the 20th century, Monterey made its money from sardine canning, an industry that Steinbeck wrote about in his novel Cannery Row. Although the sardine canning businesses have closed, Cannery Row still exists. Stroll down the street and look for a bronze bust of Steinbeck and the old workers’ shacks, which show the harsh living conditions the workers here would have endured.

Take a stroll down Fisherman’s Wharf, browsing souvenir shops, seafood markets and admiring the 360-degree harbor views along the way. Sea lions and seals can often be seen in the waters here.

Don’t miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium; its tanks are filled with kaleidoscopic marine creatures. The aquarium is right next to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where seals, sea lions, whales and dolphins can all be spotted. Of particular note is the aquarium’s kelp forest and the surreal jellyfish exhibit.

For visitors who want to see the California coast’s signature crashing waves and oceanfront cliffs, head for Garrapata State Park. Follow hiking trails along steep coastal bluffs and through towering redwood forests. Point Lobos State Reserve is another good place to get back to nature. Rent a kayak and paddle through coves, looking for orcas, sea lions and seals. The 18-mile (29-kilometer) long Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is open to walkers and cyclists.

From San Francisco, reach Monterey by car in about 2.5 hours. Buses are also available from San Jose, while internal flights touch down at Monterey Regional Airport. In downtown Monterey, make use of the free trolley service; check the Monterey-Salinas Transit website for the schedule.

Guide to Exploring Monterey

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See all 240 Hotels in Monterey
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey
of 5, from 1,564 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

After undergoing a $60 million renovation, this 550-room hotel and conference center is situated on 22 acres next to the 18-hole championship Pebble Beach Resort's Del Monte Golf Course, 6 blocks from the beach and 1 mile from downtown Monterey.

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

Two Portola Plaza, Monterey
of 5, from 1,161 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Just 200 yards from Fisherman's Wharf, this resort borders Custom House Plaza, with the beach and sparkling bay just beyond; Cannery Row and the aquarium are a short walk away.

Cannery Row Inn

Cannery Row Inn

200 Foam St Monterey, Monterey
of 5, from 81 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Located in Lighthouse District, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of San Carlos Beach - The Breakwater, Fisherman's Wharf, and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Maritime Museum and Dennis the Menace Park are also within 2 mi (3 km).

Budget Inn Greenfield

Budget Inn Greenfield

452 El Camino Real, Greenfield
of 5, from 11 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Situated in a rural location, this motel is within 12 mi (20 km) of Ventana Vineyard, Mission Soledad, and Hahn Winery Tasting Room. Hahn Estate Visitor Center and Sycamore Cellars are also within 12 mi (20 km).

Mariposa Inn & Suites

Mariposa Inn & Suites

1386 Munras Avenue, Monterey
of 5, from 763 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Munras Avenue, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Del Monte Shopping Center, Fisherman's Wharf, and Dennis the Menace Park. Monterey Bay Aquarium and Maritime Museum are also within 3 mi (5 km).

Bayside Inn

Bayside Inn

2055 Fremont St, Monterey
of 5, from 33 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Located in North Fremont Street, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) from Monterey County Fairgrounds and within 3 mi (5 km) of Fisherman's Wharf and Dennis the Menace Park. Maritime Museum is 2.2 mi (3.5 km) away.

Good Nite Inn Salinas

Good Nite Inn Salinas

545 Work St, Salinas
of 5, from 505 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Salinas, this motel is within 2 mi (3 km) of National Steinbeck Center, Aguila Cultural Center, and First Mayor's House. Salinas Valley Model Railroad Museum and Steinbeck House are also within 2 mi (3 km).

Monterey Beach Dunes Inn

Monterey Beach Dunes Inn

3280 Dunes Drive, Marina
of 5, from 303 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Situated by the ocean, this motel is within a 10-minute walk of Marina State Beach and Marina Dunes Preserve. California State University Monterey Bay and Fort Ord Dunes State Park are also within 9 mi (15 km).

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