Places to visit
Carmel-by-the-Sea – Located south of Monterey and Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a humble seaside village with plenty of designer stores, gourmet eateries and upscale art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents (like Clint Eastwood).
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – South of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve receives praise from almost everyone who visits. The dramatic rock formations rising from the ocean have most visitors gawking, while the cute creatures like pocket gopher and the southern sea otter keep the nature-lovers smiling. The reserve’s 13 trails offer hikers both easy and challenging opportunities. The Cypress Grove Trail is especially popular due to its views of the rugged coast and the gnarled Monterey cypress trees that perch precariously on the seaside cliffs.
Monterey Bay Aquarium – The Open Sea Exhibit best exemplifies how special the massive Monterey Bay Aquarium is. Sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish and schools of fish have thousands of gallons of water to explore while visitors watch in awe. With 45 interactive exhibits featuring reptiles, octopi, birds, fish and invertebrates, as well as a variety of tours (some of which allow guests to feed some of the sea life), there is no shortage of things to see and do for the young and old at the aquarium.
17-Mile Drive – Tracing the rugged Pacific coastline, the 17-Mile Drive isn’t just a road. The route offers breathtaking views of the ocean, hugging the Pacific coastline as it weaves through the Del Monte Forest. You can experience the natural wonders of Monterey and marvel at the multi-million-dollar homes along the coast.
Old Fisherman’s Wharf – Near Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman’s Wharf is not the smelly, salt water-stained place it once was. Costly restaurants and souvenir shops now characterize this touristy harborside neighborhood. However, this is the place to go if you’re interested in a whale-watching tours or a kayaking excursion on the bay.
A quick stroll on Old Fisherman’s Wharf affords panoramic views of the bay, not to mention the seals that sunbathe on the nearby rocks and buoys. While here, be sure to taste the clam chowder. Many of the restaurants serving it offer samples to passersby, so you can have the equivalent of a small cup by simply making sample rounds. For more information, check out the Monterey County’s website.