The history and culture of Monterey, California is as interesting and diverse as the region itself. Rich in activities, leisure, entertainment and beauty, Monterey Bay is a destination that California tourists can count on again and again. Monterey has earned its claim to fame first as the state’s capital in 1777 and as the burial place for Father Junipero Serra, the founder of most missions in California. As time has passed, Monterey has also become famous for its fisheries, world-class aquarium, rich sea-life, marine sanctuary, breathtaking golf courses, and Cannery Row, a point of inspiration for author John Steinbeck.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
A trip to Monterey would be incomplete without a visit to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. See for yourself why this aquarium is rated #1 by the Zagat Survey U.S. Family Travel Guide. The Wild About Otters exhibit is one of the most popular, and be sure to take the kids to the newly renovated Splash Zone where they can experience the area's marine life first hand.
Old Fisherman’s Wharf, in Monterey is where you can immerse yourself in the unique maritime history of the area. Be sure to visit the Maritime Museum of Monterey, which offers glimpses of the whaling and fishing eras through its collection of almost 6,000 artifacts including a full-sized lighthouse fresnel lens. While there, visit the Monterey County Visitor Center. Here you will find all the information you will need to ensure your visit to Monterey is a memory to treasure. You can find information about where to stay, where to eat, what to do and more, using the interactive map and video display. Fisherman’s Wharf is also the place to begin the self-guided historical tour marked by the yellow and brown tile markers set in the sidewalks. A good starting point is right across the Custom House Plaza at the Pacific House, where you can also find guided tours as well.
Places to visit in Monterey Bay
Within the county of Monterey lies the butterfly capital of the world, Pacific Grove. Here the monarchs abound and grace this quaint Victorian style city. Gorgeous bed and breakfast inns make this town a charming and romantic getaway. Rich with character you will be able to sense what life must have been like in "The Good Old Days," a springtime celebration held every year in Pacific Grove.
>The city of Carmel is another gem in the crown of the Monterey Peninsula. This quaint shopping village hugs the gorgeous Pacific coastline and beckons visitors to explore the many unique boutiques, fine eateries and world class art galleries. Carmel’s Art festival, held each spring, has become one of California’s premier outdoor art competitions of its kind.
One of the Monterey Peninsula’s most famous attractions is the impressive 17 mile drive. Free to bicyclists and pedestrians, this nine dollar scenic drive takes you along one of the most beautiful stretches of the California coastline amidst the towering cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Here you will encounter the Lone Cypress Tree, possibly one of the most photographed locations in the county and serving as a symbol of steadfastness amidst change. Another famous attraction here is the Pebble Beach golf course. Famed as one of the most beautiful courses in the world, the absolutely breathtaking views and unique course layout will help you forget the $495 green fees!
Another spectacular drive along the cliffs is found on Highway 1. Just south of Carmel you can follow the coastline for hours as it winds it’s way to Big Sur. You will pass by Point Lobos State Reserve~ famous for where artist Francis McComas described Monterey as “the greatest meeting of land and sea.” After experiencing the ocean views, the hidden beaches, the crystal waters, you will understand and agree with thid famous artist.
Other beautiful areas to visit in Monterey County include Carmel Valley, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside and Soledad. For more information on any of these areas please visit the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.seemonterey.com.
If you were to survey folks from California with the question, "What is the best scenic drive in all of the state?" Highway One from Carmel to Big Sur would be your winner...
Here's California Travel Center's list of the top 10 things to do when visiting in Monterey...