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Things to do in

Monterey

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.

Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

2. Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

Enjoy the wildlife, then relax as you take in the beautiful sunset over Monterey Bay on a sightseeing cruise. Meet your guide at the wharf and climb aboard the boat to start your tour. Spot whales, dolphins, and a wide variety of marine wildlife in Monterey Bay. Whales are seen every day in this area. Listen to your marine biologist or naturalist guide as they share interesting information about the animals you see, the natural history of the local area, and conservation. Witness scientific research in action as marine biologists and naturalists collect sighting data to learn about the local wildlife. Then, sit back and relax as the sun sets, reflected in the water, providing lasting memories and incredible photo opportunities. Finally, return to the wharf and dry land.

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

3. Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour

Soak up the beautiful coast of Northern California on a guided e-bike tour through Pebble Beach on the famous 17 Mile Drive. Ride on powerful eBikes which make climbing the region’s hills and inclines a breeze. Watch for deer, sea lions, and flocks of sea birds as we roll past famous golf courses with fairways overlooking the ocean. Feel the soft, white sands at the Spanish Bay Beach and smell the sagebrush mixed with the sea air. Snap a photo of China Rock, Bird Rock, and the Lone Cypress Weave through the Del Monte Forest of 300-year old Cypress trees, and take a minute to imagine yourself in one of the luxurious mansions along the path. Stop for a quick break at the Pebble Beach Lodge where you can enjoy coffee and gelato while gazing over Carmel Bay and Point Lobos. Your local guides will share their knowledge of the area’s unique ocean wildlife and iconic landmarks throughout the tour.

Monterey/Carmel: Wine Country Tour

4. 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: 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.

From Monterey: Big Sur Guided Half-Day Tour

6. From Monterey: Big Sur Guided Half-Day Tour

The natural beauty of Big Sur is something that must be seen firsthand. This section of the coast, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean, is only a short drive from Monterey and is perfect for a half-day scenic tour. Enjoy several stops for sightseeing along the Big Sur Coast (Bixby Creek Bridge, Hurricane Point, Nepenthe, and Big Sur Lodge) and admire the beautiful scenery and marine wildlife. Immerse yourself in nature during a guided walk in the Redwood Forest. Learn more about the region as you hear about wine, agriculture, and the rich history of Big Sur and the Monterey Bay region from your guide.

Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

7. 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.

17 Mile Drive: Half-Day Electric Bike Rental

8. 17 Mile Drive: Half-Day Electric Bike Rental

Begin your adventure by picking up your powerful Pedego eBike at the Big Sur Adventures, 17 Mile Drive shop, just 100 yards from the 17 Mile Drive entrance to Pebble Beach. After a safety briefing hop on your bike and throttle up the hill to 17 Mile Drive. Turn right on 17 Mile Drive into Pebble Beach and take the bike path back down to the ocean. Scan the golf courses and yards for deer — you're sure to see a few along the ride. In Pebble Beach, ride past even more stunning vistas: Spanish Bay, Point Joe, Restless Sea, and China Rock. Make sure to stop at Bird Rock (public restrooms here) to watch the sea lions splash and sunbathe. Hop back on your e-bike and continue along the ocean to the Lone Cypress. To spot some sea otters, stop at Fanshell Beach Overlook and Cypress Point Lookout. Here the true mansions start. Follow the road that winds through 300-year-old Cypress Trees and some of the most expensive homes in Pebble Beach. Suddenly, break out into a clearing and see the Lone Cypress perched on its stony outcropping. Your next stop should be the Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point where a short walk brings you to a beautifully sculpted coastline. For a little "nurture," continue on just a little further to Pebble Beach Lodge for food, restrooms, amd shopping. From here, you can either ride back the same route, take a shortcut, or continue on to Carmel to explore its coastline and cottages.

Monterey: Guided Walking Food Tour with Tastings

9. 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.

From Los Angeles: 7-Day Golden Experience Tour

10. From Los Angeles: 7-Day Golden Experience Tour

Day 1: LOS ANGELES – SANTA BARBARA – 17 MILE DRIVE – CARMEL Depart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission and continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse in the local shops. Head north to the world-famous Route #1 where you'll get to see the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Visit the town of Carmel and enjoy some free time to stroll in town before departing to reach your hotel at the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Day 2: SAN FRANCISCO – BAY CRUISE – GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – CHINATOWN Start your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. See great views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island on your way to Sausalito. Return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Stay overnight in Modesto. Day 3: MODESTO – YOSEMITE Summer Route: Head east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and Half Dome. After a beautiful day in the park, head to Stevenson Ranch and stay the night at the Comfort Inn and Suites Stevenson Ranch. Day 4: STEVENSON RANCH – LAS VEGAS Head east through the desert and Death Valley to arrive at the gambling capital of the world: Las Vegas. Stop for lunch at the outlet mall in Barstow and in the evening, take a tour of the strip to see some amazing hotels such as Caesar’s Palace, Luxor, Mirage, Paris, Venetian, Bellagio, New York New York, Treasure Island, and more. Stay overnight at the Harrah’s Hotel. Day 5: LAS VEGAS – GRAND CANYON – PAGE Start the day traveling through the desert and through the Navajo Indian reservation before you arrive at the south bank of the Grand Canyon. After lunch, continue along the canyon east stopping at some of the Indian market places to browse the handmade arts and crafts. Then, head to the Page and Lake Powell area for the evening where you will stay at the Quality Inn View of Lake Powell. Day 6: ANTELOPE CANYON – BRYCE CANYON Tour the lower Antelope Canyon and visit the spectacular dunes created by the wind, water, and sand. Then head west to Bryce Canyon, home to the most amazing natural sculptures in the world. Experience the unique changing of the colors during the sunset from one of the vista points in the park (this may change due to changing sunset times). After the visit, head towards the town of Kanab, where you will stay overnight at the Days Inn Kanab. On certain departures, the tour will continue to Cedar City for the night. Day 7: ZION PARK – LAS VEGAS Head into Zion Park and enjoy a short walking trail along the Virgin River that runs through the park. Arrive in Las Vegas and head towards Los Angeles for a late night.

Frequently asked questions about Monterey

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The best day trips and excursions from Monterey are:

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Other Sightseeing Options in Monterey

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What people are saying about Monterey

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 800 reviews

Discovery Whale Watch was great! The captain and guide explained how they kept in close communication with other tour operators in the area, in order to let each other know where the best viewing experience was. While we were traveling to the best viewing spot, Isaiah, the on-board marine biologist, explained how all species were dependent on each other, from plankton to anchovies, to humans, and he helped guests understand how massive the humpback whales are that we saw. The entire experience, from ticket purchase to check-in, and boarding to completion, was top-notch. We would highly recommend Discovery Whale Watch for such an exciting experience!

The Monterey Food Tour was truly wonderful - relaxed but filled with information and LOTS of amazing food! Each stop was unique; our very helpful tour guide provided plenty of background before we arrived, so everyone knew about the venue's history and specialties. Perfect Monterey weather, too! We were especially pleased since the whole tour area was a part of Monterey we had never visited before - we will definitely be back again!

The tour was easy to schedule online. Excellent and detailed information to prepare and get to the tour. The tour was so much fun! The staff was knowledgable, kind, and fun. We saw several whales and sea lions. Would definitely recommend!!!

We saw 10 humpback whales on our trip. The biologist on board was very informative and also shared his pictures with us. It was an amazing trip and I will be going again.

It was amazing and the staff was excellent as well as informative.