Best Things To Do in Monterey, California

Are you looking for what to do in Monterey?


  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: 600 species of plants and animals including a kelp forest, octopi, sharks, turtles and jellyfish. 2 million annual visitors.
  • 17-Mile Drive: Famous for the artistic inspirations it sparked, there are many points to stop along this famous drive. Don’t miss the Lone Cypress.
  • Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail: A city project that replaced the old railway with 29 miles of family friendly walking area open only to pedestrians, following the course of the sea.
  • Cannery Row: A fishing industry giant that was reformed into pretty boutiques and a lit of history, and sparked John Steinbeck’s genius.
  • El Estero Park Complex: If only every city park had as much sense as to build a complete workout routine right INTO its jogging track. Check out the Dennis The Menace playground.

Below we have a list of things to do in Monterey and the places where you want to spend the best moments of your trip. At the same time, the city offers you the best neighborhoods to explore and new foods to try.

This list should help you in deciding and prioritizing what you should plan on your Monterey getaway. Find a mix of must-see tourist spots, underrated local hangouts, and maybe even a few new experiences you can try out.

Make the most of your trip to Monterey with confidence.

Tourist Attractions in Monterey

Here is the list of things to do in Monterey and tourist attractions in city.

  1. Monterey Bay Aquarium

    4.7 (4269 Votes)
    Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Museum, Aquarium, Educational Site, Food And Drinks

    Monterey Bay Aquarium is public aquarium in Monterey, California. This second largest aquarium in the world located in California's central coast, end of Cannery Row. Almost 2 million people visit this aquarium annually, and boy does it live up to the hype! The residents here are mostly sealife and include over 600 species of plants and animals. The main monterey bay aquarium exh...Read more
  2. Cannery Row

    Hotel, Walking Area, Restaurant, Specialty Shop

    “A poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream." That’s how John Steinbeck described Cannery Row. They used to call it the Ocean View Avenue, and then John Steinbeck went and wrote his novel, Cannery Row (named for the sardine canning that went on here till the 1970s, and that’s all it’s been called since). That fishing indus...Read more
  3. Carmel Mission Basilica

    4.5 (3080 Votes)
    Carmel Mission Basilica

    Church, Religious Site, Museum, Landmark

    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a U.S. National Historic Landmark, this was California’s second mission, and it played a significant role in California’s late 18th century power struggles. The church is today one the most authentically restored churches, with an original bell tower that survives to this day. As such, it’s more than a place of worship; th...Read more
  4. Coast Guard Pier And Old Fisherman's Wharf

    Trail, Walking Area, Pier, Dine In

    This is a Monterey not-so-hidden surprise! But we’ll get to that. So, extending 1700 feet out into the bay, this pier is super popular among fishermen. Publicly accessible during the day, it’s when you properly venture out onto the pier that you see who it really belongs to sea lions in the hundreds, basking on the rocks, flopped out and lazing in the sun. Also easily visible are ro...Read more
  5. Monterey State Historic Park

    4.5 (1679 Votes)
    Monterey State Historic Park

    Church, Garden, Historical Site, Monument

    The Monterey History and Art Association must be saluted for what they did for this place. It is nothing short of fantastic. Along a two mile path lie 55 historic buildings, this self-guided tour is marked by the yellow tiles set into the sidewalk. An informative and interactive map of the tour can be found online for those who want to do this by the book. Among the most important building here...Read more
  6. Garrapata Beach

    4.8 (1367 Votes)
    Garrapata Beach

    Beach, Wildlife Sanctuary , Park, View Point

    This is pretty much everyone’s favourite beach in Monterey. It’s a little way out, but completely removed from the crowds. The sand is white and the water is blue. The flowers blanket the area around the beach, and they dazzle in spring. The view is spectacular and the water dangerous; seriously, your kids may love this beach, but keep them away from all but the shallowest part of t...Read more
  7. Monterey Museum Of Art Pacific Street

    Art Museum, Museum, Park, Educational Site

    The museum organisation has one simple purpose – To preserve the best of Californian art from the 19th century to present day, and to promote contemporary Californian art through exhibition. Through educational programs, lectures, workshops, curatorial tours and public events, this organisation does a good job of keeping up California’s artistic legacy. Among the prominent artists s...Read more
  8. Jacks Peak County Park

    4.6 (676 Votes)
    Jacks Peak County Park

    Beach, Trail, Park, Picnic Spot

    The local dog-walker’s favourite break-away is more than simple trails. There are fossils embedded in the shale here right from the Miocene epoch of prehistoric Earth, beautiful vistas of Monterey Bay, and pine trees that couldn’t smell more fresh. Heck, it even outfits picnic tables with grills. Altogether there are about 8.5 miles of trails, and you should walk the Coffeeberry Tra...Read more
  9. Museum Of Monterey

    4.3 (521 Votes)
    Museum Of Monterey

    Art And Culture, Museum, Beach, Historical Site

    Opened in 1992, this delightfully free attraction has thousands of Monterey related artefacts. It’s all about seeing the history of the city through the lens of it’s relationship with the bay. This cannot be helped, especially as its collections were started off the sailor Allen Kinight in the early 20th century. The exhibits are spread out over three floors: The ground floor has a ...Read more
  10. Colton Hall Museum

    4.6 (564 Votes)
    Colton Hall Museum

    Museum, Landmark, Historical Site, Entertainment

    Initially built to function as a school, in 1849, this building saw California’s first constitution drafted, which makes it one of the most important buildings in the state. In 934, it was registered as a Historical Landmark, and is still the important public office building in Monterey County still in continuous use. The museum, which covers these important events is on the second floor....Read more
  11. Monterey County Youth Museum

    Museum, Golf Course, Educational Site, Play

    These 8500 square feet full of hands on exhibits are a children’s favourite. There’s just something nice about a museum that will let your child run around, touching everything, and won’t hold her back. It’s a fantastic place to host your kid’s birthday, especially if they’ve got lots of friends coming along. Inexpensive, clean and safe, parent after parent h...Read more
  12. La Mirada Monterey Museum Of Art

    Art Museum, Garden, Educational Site, Performance

    The museum organisation has one simple purpose two preserve the best of Californian art from the 19th century to present day, and to promote contemporary Californian art through exhibition. Through educational programs, lectures, workshops, curatorial tours and public events, this organisation does a good job of keeping up California’s artistic legacy. Among the prominent artists showcase...Read more
  13. El Estero Park Complex

    4.3 (542 Votes)
    El Estero Park Complex

    Beach, Park, Bridge, Adventure

    Lake El Estro was once a brackish saltwater lagoon, until in 1874, the stream connecting the lagoon to the bay was cut off, and this became freshwater paradise. And what paradise! The lake hosts a thriving ecosystem. Over 300 species of birds call this park a home, including many migratory varieties. Turtles, fish and frogs also find home in this pretty pond. And you can enjoy this diversity fr...Read more
  14. Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail

    Beach, Trail, Park, Aquarium

    The South Pacific Railroad once ran the length of this trail. The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District saw this abandoned railroad and figured this is no way to waste the beautiful views of this 29-mile route. Along with the cities of Pacific Grove and Seaside, Monterey joined the park district in restoring this pride and joy. In 1986, they gifted this beautiful trail to the world to pedes...Read more
  15. Bixby Creek Bridge

    View Point, Bridge, Walking Area

    The Bixby Creek Bridge is on the Big Sur coast of California, and one of the most admired bridge of the country. It is amongst the highest bridges of its kind and the west coast’s reigning pride. This engineering wonder is around 280 feet tall, standing proudly overlooking the ocean. Famous for its aesthetic grandeur, the bridge is a must stop for all photographers. Gorgeous views of the ...Read more