Monterey Bay Aquarium features nearly 200 exhibits and more than 700 species.
Monterey Bay Aquarium features nearly 200 exhibits and more than 700 species.

Indulge the senses one bite at a time on California’s coast

written by Ryn Pfeuffer | photography by

Perched along California’s picturesque central coast, Monterey beckons travelers with its rich tapestry of experiences. From its rugged coastline and world-renowned aquarium to its historic Cannery Row and award-winning wineries, this seaside gem promises something for every type of traveler.

For accommodations, consider booking a stay at Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Its breathtaking beauty and prime location make it perfect for families or a romantic escape. Indulge in ocean-facing rooms where you can watch playful otters or enjoy your morning coffee from the comfort of a penthouse-level room with a jacuzzi and stunning ocean views.

Explore the vibrant history of Cannery Row, a must-visit spot in Monterey. This iconic area holds deep significance, inspired by John Steinbeck’s renowned novel Cannery Row. Wander through its charming shops and cultured restaurants and feel the echoes of its bustling past as a sardine-canning district transformed into a lively waterfront community.

The John Steinbeck inspiration for Cannery Row.
The John Steinbeck inspiration for Cannery Row.

Take a scenic drive along 17-Mile Drive for breathtaking coastal views. Pause at Pebble Beach for top-notch golf and luxury resorts, Bird Rock for birdwatching, and snap a pic at the iconic Lone Cypress.

End your day at The Inn at Spanish Bay, enjoying a cocktail by the firepit with bagpipe tunes. Then head to Pacific Grove for relaxed fine dining at Passionfish, known for sustainable seafood and a great wine selection that pairs perfectly with dishes like seared scallops or California squid.

Dive into marine marvels at the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can explore giant kelp forests, watch playful sea otters and admire mesmerizing jellyfish displays. For an unforgettable adventure at sea, join a whale watching excursion with Monterey Bay Whale Watch. Encounter gray whales, humpbacks, orcas and more, guided by experts who’ll share intriguing insights. Keep an eye out for humpback whales from April to December, with peak sightings in the summer months, for an enriched experience connecting with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

For a taste of Monterey’s lively waterfront vibe, stroll along Old Fisherman’s Wharf and savor local seafood delights at Abalonetti Bar & Grill. Nearby, Hula’s Island Grill offers vibrant Hawaiian-inspired dishes and occasional live music, while Rosine’s Restaurant on Alvarado Street tempts with towering slices of cake. (The chocolate black forest is to die for.)

Hit Old Fisherman’s Wharf for fresh seafood.
Hit Old Fisherman’s Wharf for fresh seafood.

Outdoor enthusiasts can explore Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, just 15 miles south on Highway 1, for picturesque trails and stunning coastal vistas. Whether kayaking in Monterey Bay or hiking through Point Lobos, the beauty of nature awaits.

Get outdoors with a brisk kayak in Monterey Bay.
Get outdoors with a brisk kayak in Monterey Bay.

In addition to its natural wonders, Monterey also has a vibrant arts and culture scene. Visit the Monterey Museum of Art to explore its impressive American and early California art collection, or catch a performance at the Golden State Theatre, a historic landmark in downtown Monterey.

No trip to Monterey would be complete without exploring its wine country. Embark on a wine-tasting adventure along the River Road Wine Trail or explore the vineyards of Carmel Valley, known for their world-class wines and stunning scenery.



Abalonetti Bar & Grill

Hula’s Island Grill

The Inn at Spanish Bay

Monterey Wine Trail Tasting Rooms


Rosine’s Restaurant


Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa


17-Mile Drive

Cannery Row

Fisherman’s Wharf

Golden State Theatre

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Whale Watch

Monterey Museum of Art

Point Lobos Natural Preserve

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