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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/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.

Pacific Coastal Highway Tour to Monterey & Carmel

4. 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: Electric Bike Rental with GPS Guided Tours

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

6. 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.

17 Mile Drive: Half-Day Electric Bike Rental

7. 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.

San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

8. San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour

Explore the Big Sur and Monterey areas of California at your own pace, and avoid the hassle of organized bus tours. Traveling by private car, enjoy the comfort of seeing the places you want to see without worrying about your departure or arrival time. Learn more about the famous landmarks with a reliable service, offering maximum security and, most of all, the best level of hospitality in the industry. Following a pick-up from your accommodation in San Francisco (pick-ups in other cities in the Bay Area are available on arrangement), get recommendations on the best places to stop to take pictures or explore further; you decide where you want to go. Take a scenic drive from San Francisco to Carmel and Big Sur via State Route 1, the north-south highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. Travel the forested road of 17-Mile Drive. Discover the Mission District and Monterey Bay Aquarium. See all the sights of Fisherman's Wharf. Drive down to the Big Sur Bixby Creek Bridge, and marvel at the flora and fauna of Poit Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel before your return to San Francisco.

From Los Angeles: 7-Day Golden Experience Tour

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

Day 1: Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - 17 Mile Drive/Carmel or Solvang/San Francisco Depart north from Los Angeles up the spectacular California coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish mission and learn how these religious outposts were key in the development of the entire region. Summer:Head north to the world-famous 17 mile drive (part of route #1), where you will get to see the spectacular California coast line up-close. After your visit, head to the town of Carmel, home to the actor Clint Eastwood. Enjoy some free time to stroll through the town before heading onto Silicon Valley for an overnight. Overnight: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport Winter:Continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse in the local shops. Enjoy the Danish-style architecture while browse in the local shops and restaurants. After our lunch break, we head north through Silicon Valley before departing to reach our hotel for overnight. Overnight: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport    Day 2: San Francisco - Bay Cruise - Golden Gate Bridge - Chinatown Today, understand why San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Start your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the notorious Alcatraz Island. Return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that will take in all the city’s famous landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, Chinatown and Nob Hill. Your tour will end with a night view of the city from the Bay Bridge. Overnight: Modesto – Best Western Palm Court Inn.   Day 3: Modesto - Yosemite Summer Route: Head east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. This 1,200 square mile wonderland of forests, lakes and waterfalls is located in the Sierra Nevada. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls and Half Dome to continue for a walk from the Yosemite Visitor Center to reach one of the highest waterfalls in North America (730 meters) Yosemite Falls. Winter Route: Start the day with a tour of Monterrey to include the wharf and Cannery Row. After your tour, depart to the south for a visit to the world-famous Hearst Castle. Built by the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, tour the famous house filled with antiques and see why the castle served as a playground for the rich and famous for the first half of the 20th-century. In the evening, drive south towards Las Vegas. Overnight at the Comfort Suites Stevenson Ranch. Day 4: Stevenson Ranch - Las Vegas Today’s route is east through the dessert and Death Valley to arrive at the gambling capital of the world: Las Vegas. Stop for lunch at the outlet mall in Barstow, which is filled with all the famous brand names like, Levi’s, Nike, Reebok, Timberland, Ralph Lauren and more. In the evening, take a tour of the strip to see some of the truly amazing hotels and fantasies that are built in the middle of the desert such as Caesar’s Palace, Luxor, Mirage, Paris, Venetian, Bellagio, New York New York, Treasure Island and more. Finish off the evening at one of the many shows or try your hand at one of the many casinos - who knows, maybe lady luck will be smiling on you tonight. Overnight: Linq Hotel. Day 5: Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Lake Powell  Start the day traveling southeast through the desert and through the Navajo Indian Reservation before you come to the South Bank of one of the seven wonders of the world - the Grand Canyon. Tour along the south bank and learn how throughout the years the Colorado River carved its way down to the sea and created the wonderland for geologists. After lunch, continue along the canyon east stopping at some of the many Indian market places to browse the handmade arts and crafts. Overnight – Quality Inn View of Lake Powell.   Day 6: Antelope Canyon - Bryce Canyon After breakfast, depart for 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 of the world. This tour will take you to see amazing rock and sand sculptures honed to perfection over thousands of years of rain, wind, and sunshine. Experience the unique changing of the colors during the sunset from one of the vista points in the park (may change due to changing sunset times).  After the visit, head towards the town of Kanab. Overnight: Days Inn. On certain departures, the tour will continue to Cedar City for an overnight at the Comfort Inn, Cedar City.  Day 7: Zion Park - Las Vegas After breakfast, head into Zion Park. This park got its name from the Mormons that settled in the area. They gave it this name after claiming that visiting the park is like a religious experience, the majesty of the mountains and silence of the wilderness make you feel like you have been transported to another place. Tour the park and enjoy a short walking trail along the Virgin River that runs through the park, before leaving this amazing area for an early evening arrival in Las Vegas. Option for a late night return to Los Angeles.  

Monterey: 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour

10. 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.

Frequently asked questions about Monterey

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The best day trips and excursions from Monterey are:

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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.