Things to do in
Monterey

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Our most recommended things to do in Monterey

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

2. Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

Travel along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. This full-day tour takes you along California’s stunning coast to experience the beauty of Highway 1. When you arrive at the Monterey peninsula, follow the 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach to visit the Lone Cypress, where your guide will stop for you to take photos of the rugged, beautiful coast. As your tour continues, visit Monterey city where you can walk down Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (for an additional cost). From Monterey, your tour continues to the coastal town Pacific Grove, which features charming Victorian-era buildings; and the artsy Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you will visit the historic mission established in 1770. On the way back to San Francisco, drive through Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the United States; and, as you circle round the north end of San Francisco, catch a glimpse of the Seal Rocks in the distance.

Monterey/Carmel: Wine Country Tour

3. Monterey/Carmel: Wine Country Tour

Take a wine tour of California's Monterey County, one of the largest premium grape producers in the state. Learn about local wine production and taste sample some wines. Get picked up from your hotel and listen to some interesting commentary on your way out to the vineyards. Admire the beautiful Californian landscape as you tour a local winery. Let your guide teach you about Monterey and its history of wine production. Enter the tasting room for your chance to try 2 or 3 different wines. Enjoy a convenient drop-off at your accommodations after the tour.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

4. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

Experience the ultimate scenic drive between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach on a self-guided tour in your vehicle. Take advantage of the flexibility to set your own pace, stopping to take in the many sights and views along the 17-Mile Drive. Start by downloading the app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one (download instructions received via email after booking), then begin your self-guided adventure. You'll embark on this scenic drive in downtown Monterey near the historic Fisherman's Wharf. Discover Cannery Row, the delightful waterfront street bordering Pacific Grove. Optionally, stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get an up-close look at a large variety of sea creatures (entry not included). Take in the views from Point Joe, the rocky southwestern end of Spanish Bay, also known as the Restless Sea. Journey to Bird Rock and Seal Rock, and try to spot seals, sea lions, and local birds. Next, you'll continue through Crocker Grove to the Lone Cypress, which stands dramatically at the edge of a cliff against crashing waves. End your tour at the world-famous Pebble Beach, a paradise of pristine white sand and sensational coastal cliffs. The audio tour is curated by local guides and creative writers and is narrated by professional voice artists. Along with written descriptions, most tour stops have animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or building interiors.

Monterey: Scenic Half-Day Self-Guided Electric Scooter Tour

5. Monterey: Scenic Half-Day Self-Guided Electric Scooter Tour

The experience begins with check-in at the local partner’s office in Monterey and a short video and demonstration on how to use the electric scooters safety. Once you’re kitted out with your riding gear, hop onboard and set out onto the streets of Monterey where adventure awaits. The tour allows you the flexibility to follow the route on the app or explore the area according to your interests, taking any detour that looks appealing to you. On your scooter, follow the GPS driven app on your phone to a selection of different locations. The tour starts on Wave Streets, traveling towards San Carlos Beach and onto Breakwater Cove Marina where sea otters and sea lions are frequently seen frolicking among the jetties and the kelp forest tops. Stop by Hopkins Marine Sanctuary next, which is home to harbor seals soaking up the sun on the beach or nesting their young. Continue the tour to Lover’s Point, followed by Perkins Park, then see the great tide-pools that dot the shoreline and offer epic scenic views. Soak up the tranquility at Asilomar Beach, then head to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary where you can admire clusters of butterflies in the pine trees above. At the end of an unforgettable day of exploring, return the scooter to the starting point.

Big Sur California: Pacific Coast Highway Self-Drive Tour

6. Big Sur California: Pacific Coast Highway Self-Drive Tour

Set off on an adventure along the California coastline, between Monterey and Pismo Beach. Explore at your own pace, with this self-guided experience. Simply download the app and begin your road trip. Stop to discover monuments and towns along the route, spending as much time as you like at each location. The app tracks your route and the audio guide plays automatically. Listen to stories and advice at every point of interest. Admire the landscapes of Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Canyon, McWay Falls, and Ragged Point. Drive over the famous Bixby Bridge and spot seals at San Simeon. Enjoy the freedom to skip ahead, take it slow, and snap as many photos as you like.

San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

7. San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Tour

Begin your tour by traveling south on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, California Highway 1. Head to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. At your first rest stop in Davenport, you will have a chance to take a selfie with the whole Pacific as your backdrop.  At Monterey, you will have 2 hours on your own to explore. You can visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, rent a kayak or paddleboard, hike along the coast, or take a bike to roam. You can also stroll among the quaint boutiques and art shops along the historic Cannery Row. Grab a seafood lunch at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  Enjoy another eyeful of Pacific beauty along the scenic 17-Mile Drive through Del Monte Forest and take photographs of the hardy Lone Cyprus Tree. This famous road winds its way by magnificent homes and the spectacular coastline, between the greens and tees of world famous golf courses, and among the last remaining forest of a rare species of the Monterey Cypress.  Your scenic drive finishes at Pebble Beach Village. Upon arrival in the enchanted town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you can explore the boutique shops on Ocean Avenue and be dazzled by the white sandy beach. If there is time, you can visit the historic Carmel Mission. Then, it will be time to head back to San Francisco. 

Monterey: Guided Walking Food Tour with Tastings

8. Monterey: Guided Walking Food Tour with Tastings

Taste your way through Monterey’s restaurants and food spots along the side streets of downtown on this guided walking tour. Discover all the culture embedded here, from little bites to coffee on draft to Italian, Indian, and Greek food, just to name a few. Follow alongside your guide down Monterey’s lively streets and get filled in on local history and culture, including some things even the locals hardly know. Come to the tour hungry, as you’ll stop at 5 to 6 spots along the tour to taste a variety of foods and drinks, including wine and beer. You’ll quickly find there’s a lot more going on downtown than expected.

Monterey: Electric Bike Rental with GPS Guided Tours

9. Monterey: Electric Bike Rental with GPS Guided Tours

Discover the best of Monterey at your own pace and enjoy an eco-friendly way to sightsee with this electric bike rental. Choose from 2 different GPS-guided tours: a scenic or historic tour, or follow your own route and create your own adventure. Choose from electric-assist or full throttle modes to help you see more of the area. You could visit the Great Tide Pools and get a close-up view of creatures hiding among the rocks. Explore Lover's Point area and beach, and let the sand fill in between your toes. Stop at the various turnouts along the coast to catch a glimpse of whales during migration. You can also bike to Asilomar State Beach and watch the surfers find their perfect wave. Find your way into Pebble Beach and marvel at the golf courses, the coastal drive, and the famous 17-Mile Drive.

Monterey: Private Surfing Lessons

10. Monterey: Private Surfing Lessons

Learn to surf in Monterey with experienced instructors. Receive all necessary equipment including wetsuits, comfort-fit booties, and a range of boards suited for all experience levels.  Choose between the following options: Private Single Lesson Benefit from one-on-one instruction so you can quickly learn and apply the fundamentals of surfing. Discover optimal positioning, paddling, and pop up form. Enjoy a demonstration on the beach, followed by plenty of practice time on the water. Knowledge of surfer etiquette, board selection, reading surf reports, and oceanography will also be discussed. After completing their first lesson, you should be able to rent or purchase equipment and surf with confidence. Private Group Lesson (2-4 people) Choose this option to learn to surf as a group with your family or friends. Enjoy a similar lesson structure as the private single lesson, where you will cover all the basics. Watch a quick demonstration on the beach followed by some extended time on the waves with instructor guidance and supervision. Large Group (5+ people) The large group option is a wonderful way for large parties to experience surfing and also have access to additional equipment. Receive training with additional instructors involved to facilitate safety, guidance, and supervision at all times. Spend most of the lesson in the water so all participants have a chance to practice on the waves.

Other Sightseeing Options in Monterey

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What people are saying about Monterey

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 553 reviews

Was an excellent experience! The crew was knowledgeable and careful - we had an amazing experience - the whales were SO CLOSE to the boat, and we saw SO Many! The crew had such interesting facts and stories - really made the whole trip come alive. I highly recommend this! Our crew: Danny, Caila & Isaiah - were out of this world!

Just wow! We thoroughly enjoyed our whale watching experience. We were incredibly lucky to come across whales feeding; our guide estimates we saw 60 whales on our tour. The staff were all lovely and the boat was very comfortable. Would highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to see some whales!

Whale watching with Discovery Tours was a great experience. I have never done this before, the crew was knowledegable and gracious, the boat clean and acomodating. I recommend this tour wholeheartedly. Thank you for a great day!

Fantastic day. Saw lots of whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and a sea otter! Highly recommended

Great boat, whales everywhere, very friendly crew. we had a great time.