Magical Monterey is a jewel on the mid-California coastline that is overflowing with attractions. Just off the picture-perfect Pacific Coast Highway, and within easy reach of San Francisco and Big Sur, Monterey is an idyllic stop-off spot for road-trippers who are making their way along the West Coast.
While 24 hours won’t be enough to see and do it all, it will just about give you enough time to soak up the charm of this pretty town while saying at one of the Monterey hotels.
Arriving in Monterey
It’s best to book your hotel in advance as they can get full at certain times of the year. Use helpful travel sites to find and compare all available hotels in Monterey. The best way to arrive in Monterey is by car, but those traveling from further afield can fly into Monterey Regional Airport which is located just four miles southeast from Monterey. Five airlines offer cheap flights to Monterey from domestic cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Grab a map from your hotel lobby and take a stroll down to the ever-popular Cannery Row. Once the site of many sardine-canning factories, this area now houses an eclectic blend of trendy restaurants, art galleries, and boutique Monterey hotels.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
After exploring Cannery Row and perhaps picking up a souvenir or two, head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is located on the north-end of the Row. Founded in 1984, this enormous aquarium attracts nearly 2 million visitors annually who come to marvel at sharks, jellyfish, tuna, sunfish, stingrays, penguins, seahorses, and sea otters. Some of the funds from visitor admission fees help aquarium staff to conduct field research to better understand marine species and go towards funding a rehabilitation center for injured shorebirds.
Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail
Now it’s time to hop on a bike and cycle this scenic trail, which meanders its way along the shorefront from Cannery Row right round to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Fisherman’s Wharf with its cute candy-colored buildings, rickety wooden pier, and calm harbor front, should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in Monterey. Take to the waters on a glass-bottom boat tour or spot the otters frolicking from dry land. All this exploring will probably make you work up an appetite. For a heart-warming snack, grab a cup of steaming hot clam chowder or, if you fancy something more substantial, this is the place to sample freshly caught seafood while watching the sunset over the harbor.
A full day of sightseeing will be enough to tire anyone out, but if you’re a night owl then the Crown & Anchor on Franklin Street is a lovely spot to enjoy an ice-cold beer. With a little bit of planning, and a great Monterey hotel, you are sure to spend a memorable day in this charming coastal town.
What are your favorite Monterey attractions? Share your travel tips in the comments section below.
Alisha Smith is a writer with a serious case of wanderlust. She’s most likely to be found road tripping up the West Coast or sipping coconut water on a beach in Bali. She is currently working on the Hipmunk #citylove project.