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Monterey
Travel Guide

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.

Monterey Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Monterey

Top hotels in Monterey

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
The price is £205 per night from 17 Mar to 18 Mar

Located in the heart of Monterey, this luxury resort is within a 5-minute walk of Cannery Row and Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman's Wharf are ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (1,752 reviews)

"Food was amazing!! Views were fantastic! Friendly and humorous staff made our stay delightful. We were sad to leave, but look forward to being back soon."…"

Reviewed on 20 Feb 2021

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA
The price is £147 per night from 7 Mar to 8 Mar

Located in the heart of Monterey, this luxury resort is within a 15-minute walk of Lake El Estero and Monterey Bay. Monterey County Fairgrounds and Del Monte ...

3.9/5Very Good! (16 reviews)

"Great location, outside the busy part of town yet easily accessible. Staff was all very helpful and polite. Rooms were updated, clean and comfortable. Great stay overall."…"

Reviewed on 20 Feb 2021

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
Monterey Tides
Monterey Tides
3.5 out of 5
2600 Sand Dunes Dr, Monterey, CA
The price is £148 per night from 18 Mar to 19 Mar

Nestled on the beach, this Monterey hotel is just steps away from Monterey State Beach and Monterey Bay. Del Monte Beach and Monterey County Fairgrounds are ...

3.7/5Good! (1,744 reviews)

"Very nice property. We had a blast. The beach access was fantastic."…"

Reviewed on 24 Feb 2021

Monterey Tides
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top Holiday Rentals in Monterey

Private Carmel Woods, Dog Friendly, By Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur
Private Carmel Woods, Dog Friendly, By Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur
24275 San Pedro Lane, Carmel, CA

Located in Carmel Woods, this apartment building is 1.1 mi (1.7 km) from Cherry Center for the Arts and within 3 miles (5 km) of Carmel Beach and Carmel Mission ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (17 reviews)
Perfect Little Getaway

"Wonderful, quiet, central location, and perfect spot for a quick getaway. It’s hard to find a good spot to rent for a couple with dogs. This relaxing studio was more than we expected with an entry and kitchenette separate from the bedroom with fireplace and separate from a dressing room next to the ..."…"

Reviewed on 12 Feb 2021

Private Carmel Woods, Dog Friendly, By Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur
Charming Fifties-style Cottage
Charming Fifties-style Cottage
1986 Luxton St, Seaside, CA

Situated in Seaside, this holiday home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Fort Ord Dunes State Park and Monterey Bay. Del Monte Beach and Monterey County Fairgrounds are ...

4.9/5Exceptional! (51 reviews)
Perfect getaway

"Perfect location, the house was close to everything we wanted to do. Easy access to the highway. The house was charming and comfortable, loved cooking in the kitchen. But the big draw was the large, private backyard, beautifully landscaped with ample seating."…"

Reviewed on 4 Feb 2021

Charming Fifties-style Cottage
Im the Only Person That is Allowed on the Property. I do all the Cleaning
Im the Only Person That is Allowed on the Property. I do all the Cleaning
1726 Soto St, Seaside, CA
The price is £834 per night from 2 Mar to 3 Mar

Situated by the ocean, this holiday home is within 3 miles (5 km) of Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay and Del Monte Beach. Monterey County Fairgrounds ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (13 reviews)
Great space. Just as described. Great communication.

"Very close to everything! Super clean and host was extremely helpful and quick to reply to a need even very late a night. Would stay here again!"…"

Reviewed on 21 Dec 2020

Im the Only Person That is Allowed on the Property. I do all the Cleaning
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Monterey

Top things to do in Monterey

Reviews of Monterey

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
78
5 - Excellent 56.934306569343065%
4 - Good
51
4 - Good 37.22627737226277%
3 - Okay
7
3 - Okay 5.109489051094891%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 0.7299270072992701%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Peter

27 Jan 2020

I didn’t spend any time here

5/5 - Excellent

Ben

8 Jan 2020

Nice relax little town. Very beautiful

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

3 Jan 2020

I will go back to Monterey.

3/5 - Okay

Happyretired

2 Jan 2020

We only had one night and half-a-day there. We might go back if in the area.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

30 Nov 2019

Very nice city

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveller

22 Nov 2019

It is very quick to travel from Monterey to the preferred Carmel where shopping and restaurants is much more varied and much better. We found some really high quality places to eat and the ‘feel’ of the area was relaxed and enticing.

Cities near Monterey