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Fun Things to Do in Monterey, California

Located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Monterey is a jewel of California's Central Coast. Monterey Bay attractions are varied, and appeal to nature lovers, adventurers, wine aficionados, history buffs almost anyone who is looking for a lovely location in which to relax or find recreation.

There are countless things to do in Monterey, California. A few of our Monterey Bay attractions include beautiful Pacific views, pine forests, rich local history, and a variety of cultural destinations. While you're here, explore the many vintners in Monterey County, or sample the area's beautiful golf courses.

Marine Life

Monterey is steeped in history and famed for the abundance and diversity of its marine life, which includes sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, bat rays, kelp (seaweed) forests, pelicans and dolphins. Monterey's geographic location gives scientists access to the deep sea within hours, and only a few miles offshore is Monterey Canyon, the largest and deepest (3.2 km) underwater canyon off the Pacific coast of North America. Sea life makes Monterey a popular destination for scuba divers of all abilities ranging from novice to expert. Scuba classes are held at San Carlos State Beach, which has been a favorite with divers since the 1960s.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest in North America, hosts several important marine science laboratories. It is definitely on the list of fun things to do in Monterey California! You may want to find out more about the hotel's Monterey aquarium package to help you make the most of your visit.

Local History and Culture

Monterey Bay whale watching is another popular activity year-round. Check out Mariposa Inn's Monterey whale watching package before you plan your next vacation.

Monterey has much to offer anyone who wants to dip into California's history, including several museums and more than thirty carefully preserved historic buildings. For example Colton Hall, built in 1849 by Walter Colton, was originally a public school and government meeting place. It also hosted California's first constitutional convention. Today it houses a museum, while adjacent buildings serve as the seat of local government. Larkin House, one of Monterey State Historic Park's National Historic Landmarks, built in the Mexican period by Thomas Oliver Larkin, is an early example of Monterey Colonial architecture. The old Custom House, the historic district and the Royal Presidio Chapel are also National Historic Landmarks.

To reach all of these Monterey bay attractions, you can take the free downtown trolley during the summer months and on major holidays. Call (831) 899-2555 for more information.

Cannery Row

Cannery Row is the waterfront street in the New Monterey section of Monterey, California, the site of a number of now-defunct sardine canning factories. The street name, formerly a nickname for Ocean View Avenue, is now official. The canneries failed after the collapse of the fishing industry in Monterey Bay in the mid-1950s. Before the collapse, the fishery was one of the most productive in the world due to the upwelling of cold, yet nutrient-rich water from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that is funneled to the surface via the vast underwater Monterey Canyon.

Today the area around Cannery Row is a marine sanctuary and is home to a large resurgent population of California sea lions. The street is now a tourist attraction with many restaurants and hotels, and a few historical attractions. A few privately owned and operated fishing companies still exist on Cannery Row, housed on piers located a short distance from the historic district frequented by tourists. In recent years, Cannery Row has become increasingly popular among sport fishermen due to extensive public fishing facilities (sinks, countertops, ice, docking).

17 Mile Drive

The 17 Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, California, United States, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses and mansions. It also serves as the main road through the gated community of Pebble Beach. Like the community, the majority of 17-Mile Drive is owned and operated by the Pebble Beach Corporation. Entry into Pebble Beach costs US$9.25 per automobile. Residents of Pebble Beach and their guests enter for free. Entry is also free for bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorcycles are prohibited from entering 17-Mile Drive. There are numerous turnouts along the road to stop, take pictures, or get out and stroll along the ocean or among the trees. Visitors receive a map that points out some of the more scenic spots.

Chief among these is the Lone Cypress Tree, the official symbol of Pebble Beach and a frequent fixture of television broadcasts from this area. The only services open to the public in Pebble Beach (gas stations, restrooms, restaurants) are at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay; there are plenty of comfortable and scenic spots to picnic. Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills golf courses also have restaurants open to the public.

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is an historic wharf in Monterey, California and one of our well-known Monterey Bay attractions. Used as an active wholesale fish market into the 1960s, the wharf eventually became a tourist attraction as commercial fishing tapered off in the area. Fisherman's Wharf is lined with seafood restaurants ranging from casual, open-air clam bars, to formal indoor dining with views of the bay. Along with Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf is one of the few areas in Monterey that sells souvenirs, so the restaurants are interspersed with gift shops, jewelry stores, art galleries, and candy shops. Monterey Bay whale watching tours and fishing trips leave from the wharf, and Sea Lions often sleep on the pilings, buoys, and moored boats in the bay.

Near the entrance to the wharf is a plaque marking the spot where the United States took Monterey from Mexico in 1846. Accessible almost exclusively by pedestrians, the wharf is located at the end of the Alvarado Mall, just west of the municipal wharf on Lighthouse Avenue.

Shopping & Dining

Monterey and the surrounding area offer delicious cuisines from around the world. For a complete listing of restaurants in Monterey County, please visit the Monterey Convention & Visitors Bureau. You can also find great shopping in Monterey for everything from upscale apparel to one-of-a-kind antiques.

From whale watching to the annual jazz festival, Monterey Bay is a vibrant area filled with fun and excitement. Find even more things to do in Monterey California at the local guide.