About Monterey Area - Monterey Bay - Monterey County
Sea otters, dolphins, whales, seals and a rich mix of sea life call Monterey Bay home. Take our scenic drive to see Monterey Bay and all the delights to be found on the Monterey Peninsula where the towns of Monterey and Carmel attract travelers from all over the world. Many come to see the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, others head to the links or the shop whatever you do, dont miss a driving tour to see all the area offers.
The stretch between Monterey and Big Sur is one of the top destinations along the California coastline, much of it clustered along the edge of Monterey Bay, a deep underwater canyon. With so much to see and do, plan to spend some time here. Theres no need to rough it while enjoying incredible natural beauty as there are plenty of great places to stay, wonderful restaurants and diversions galore. This is an area visitors return to again and again.
The Monterey Area focuses on the coast around the Monterey Bay but inland and to the north and south, there are many interesting towns, attractions, sights and nartural areas. If you visit, consider exploring a bit beyond the area.
Other nearby places to explore:
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Researach Reserve, off Hwy 1 near Moss Landing. Trails through marsh and tidal flats; hundreds of bird species.
(831) 728-2822. Wed.-Sun.
Sunset State Beach, at the end of Beach St, west of Watsonville. Long, sandy beach with developed facilities.
San Juan Bautista. Old farming town adjoins historic park and mission.
Mission San Juan Bautista, on the Plaza, San Juan Bautista. Fine restored mission with large three-nave chapel and museum. Located next to San Andreas fault. (831) 623-4528.
San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, San Juan Bautista. Park and mission form harmonious complex around the plaza. Restored buildings with period furnishings include the Plaza Hotel.
Mission San Antonio de Padua. Remote mission location in an unchanged landscape. Site evokes the feeling of old California.
Pinnacles National Monument, east entrance on Hwy 146, 5 miles west of Hwy 25 and 30 miles south of Hollister, west entrance on Hwy 146, 14 miles east of Soledad. Excellent trails among eroded, dark red volcanic spires and fine wildflower display. Great birdwatching opportunities. Visitors center on east side.
Bear Gulch, Pinnacles National Monument. Popular trail through Bear Gulch follows a creek through caves. Flashlights needed. Bear Gulch may be closed May-Sept. due to bat nesting. Balconies caves remain open.
Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, on Fort Romie Rd, 1 mile west of Hwy 101. Restored chapel among the adobe ruins.
(831) 678-2586. Closed Tues.
Monterey Area Scenic Drives
SCENIC DRIVES: It doesnt matter if you are traveling north or south, the main road hugging the coast is Highway 1. This drive takes you as close to the ocean as possible, with side trips into the destination towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. If you stay on the direct route (1), youll miss everything! Instead, head into Monterey for a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and Fishermans Wharf. Those traveling with kids will want to stop at the Dennis the Menace playground near the Wharf. Youll see tour boats in the Bay, scuba divers and kayakers amid the kelp beds and beachcombers on the shoreline path.
In winter, ask in Pacific Grove to find out where to view the resting monarch butterflies (quietly, please).
Continuing along the Pacific Grove coast, stop to take in the views from Point Pinos lighthouse and Asilomar beach walk, keeping an eye out for otters near shore. The 17-Mile Drive starts nearby and continues amid amazing architectural grandeur with mansion after mansion facing the Pacific Ocean. Watch for the famous cypress tree clinging to a cliff above the sea. Pebble Beach, the unparalleled and exclusive golf course commands some of the best views, especially for sunsets.
Exit to explore quaint Carmel and its many shops, galleries and restaurants or loop back north to complete the 17-Mile Drive. From Carmel, head south to see the Mission or take a picnic and a camera to Point Lobos State Reserve for one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
SIDETRIP: Back on Highway 1, you may wish to explore inland, following Carmel Valley Road to scenic overlooks and wineries amid the mountains.
If you go south, youll be following the Big Sur coast, a stretch of road to savor by stopping near the Bixby Bridge and one or both of the State Parks. There are small beaches, inland waterfalls, a lighthouse, numerous trails but few services.