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Monterey Peninsula, California

Monterey-Peninsula

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

3

Total Stars:

8.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Broad appeal; all personality types like it

Did you know …?

  • Monterey was the first capital when California became a U.S. state (1849).
  • Bing Crosby launched winter golf tourneys (1947) with the Pebble Beach National Pro-Amateur event.
  • A permit is required to wear high-heeled shoes in Carmel.
  • Norma Jean Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe) was Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen (1948).
  • Pebble Beach green fees were $2 for men, $1.50 for women in 1919.

Of golf courses and cypress trees

Visitors and writers often find it difficult to describe the different kinds of beauty that encompass the Monterey Peninsula. Photographers can capture a small slice of it, but not the vistas that surround visitors almost everywhere.

Seascapes with cypress trees or weathered pines, cliffs that jut out at water’s edge, rolling hills in pastoral settings, vineyards that extend into distant corners, quaint villages with gingerbread-styled cottages and well-manicured golf courses — all this and more make the Monterey area a particularly appealing place.  Add art galleries, unique stores, world class restaurants and an active nightlife and you understand why the area ranks so high with visitors.

All types of travelers like the area because it offers choices for everyone, from the most venturesome individuals to families that want to make sure children of different ages have fun. Twenty-five golf courses, including the internationally known Links at Pebble Beach, challenge duffers’ skills.

The Monterey Aquarium draws the largest number of visitors with its stunning displays of sea creatures native to the area and jellyfish. The quaint community of Carmel-by-the-Sea has fairytale cottages and an art-themed downtown. Big Sur, Pacific Grove and Asilomar are great places for individual or corporate retreats because their quiet settings and oceanscapes invite personal reflection and introspection.

The area has two missions, both founded by Father Junipero Serra and both still active. Visitors can have a picnic and take a tour at either Carmel Mission (1770) or the Mission San Antonio de Padua (1771).

Also famous is the 17-Mile Drive, a winding private toll road that travels past five top golf courses, red-roofed homes priced sky-high and spectacular ocean views.

The area’s numerous museums, historic buildings and parks could require days to visit. And adventurous types can enjoy hang gliding, ocean kayaking, windsurfing and more.

Finally, who could forget Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name? It is now a tourist attraction featuring shops and restaurants on the original piers that maintain the character of its past.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Walk one of the challenging hiking trails and enjoy the magnificent scenery in the area’s parks. Jacks Peak Park in Monterey and Garland Park in Carmel Valley have dozens of trails and matchless views. Point Lobos State Reserve off picturesque Highway 1 is great for picnics. Go farther down the coast for Andrew Molera State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur.
  • Go camping in the Big Sur region; you can hike, bike or ride a horse to get a good look at this beautiful area. Big Sur, 90 miles south at the edge of San Luis Obispo County, has 3 million acres of untouched wilderness area and 300 miles of trails.
  • Get thee to the newest city on the peninsula, Marina, where you can take to the air in all sorts of ways: hang gliding, helicopter rides, hot-air balloon rides, skydiving and sailplane rides.
  • Visit in September in order to attend the three-day Monterey Jazz Festival featuring contemporary and classic jazz artists.
  • Check out the nightlife, some of it quirky, in downtown Monterey and at Cannery Row including comedy clubs, small live theaters, dancing, billiards and pool.
  • Scuba dive in Monterey Bay. Or, sightsee above water, in a kayak, or a sailboat or a yacht. Or, surf in the bay.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Time your visit to coincide with a festival that appeals to you. Consider the Cherries Jubilee, the Great Monterey Squid Festival, the Monterey Blues Festival (separate from the Monterey Jazz Festival) and the Monterey Wine Festival.
  • Take a whale-watching excursion. Trips are offered in Monterey and Pacific Grove, among other places.
  • Sip wine in tasting rooms at the Bernardus Chateau Julien, Talbott or Galante vineyards in Carmel, or go south to Riverland Vineyard, Smith & Hook/Hahn Estates or Chalone Vineyards.  Also, take cooking classes at the Culinary Center of Monterey.
  • Go to the auto and motorcycle races at nearby Laguna Seca Raceway.
  • Visit the Carmel Mission, and learn about the history of California’s 21 missions stretching most of the length of the state. The mission style of architecture has inspired designers of public buildings and private homes in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Hop aboard for the 90-minute tour on the Ghost Trolley of Old Monterey. It will take you past areas of frequent ghost sightings and ghost gardens, old burial grounds, sites of hangings and places of intrigue, murder, swindles and shipwrecks.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take a sunset stroll along the beach at Asilomar or Carmel Beach City Park. Or, hike the trails at beautiful Point Lobos State Reserve.
  • In Salinas, you can visit the National Steinbeck Center which features interactive exhibits that bring the author’s novels, including “Cannery Row,” “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath,” to life.
  • Follow the 17-Mile Drive by car. Have lunch at the Links at Pebble Beach.
  • Explore Monterey’s Cannery Row, once a thriving sardine-packing center. It is now a tourist center that has retained a bygone-era charm with shops in old cannery buildings, restaurants and galleries.
  • Watch a 19th century melodrama at the First Theater of California in Monterey. Built in 1844, it was indeed the state’s first theater and has been presenting 19th century melodramas since the 1930s.
  • Drive Highway 1 through Big Sur for one of the most beautiful drives you will have in your life.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.seemonterey.com