"Watching the Sunset in Monterey..." Top 5 Page for this destination Monterey by Ewingjr98

Monterey Travel Guide: 976 reviews and 2,994 photos

Founded by Spanish missionaries & soldiers, Monterey was the capital of the old Spanish then Mexican state of Alta California. The area was captured by the US in 1846, and Monterey became the new US territory's first capital. Under US rule, Monterey's fishing industry expanded & the area attracted a large number of Chinese and Italian immigrants. As the fishing industry declined in the 1950s, Steinbeck began writing about the area which attracted a whole new wave of people... tourists. Today these visitors to Monterey number in the millions each year.

Monterey is a wonderful place to live: great restaurants, outdoor activities, friendly people, & good running weather!

This Monterey page covers many of my travels on the Monterey Peninsula, but I have broken out my Santa Cruz, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Pebble Beach, Salinas, San Juan Bautista, Seaside, Moss Landing, Elkhorn, Castroville, and Pinnacles National Monument tips separately.

Also check out the Bay Area...San Francisco, San Jose, & Oakland. A little further, perhaps 5 hours away is beautiful Yosemite National Park.

My Top Things to Do in and around Monterey:

1. See the wildlife! Sea Lions, harbor seals, sea otters, pelicans and cormorants can be seen all along the three wharfs...walking distance from most anywhere in town. Land animals include large herds of wild deer in town, dozens of scavenging raccoons, ground squirrels, and even the rare mountain lion.

2. Better than 17-Mile Drive? It's definitely cheaper...try Ocean View Drive-Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove and Asilomar State Beach.

3. Fishermans Wharf & Cannery Row - Historic areas are now super touristy, but popular for restaurants, scenic views, sea lions, shops, & boat tours. Walk the fitness trail, rent a bike, visit the spa, check out Steinbeck's Monterey, see the Aquarium, check out the tiny beaches & parks.

4. Monterey Bay Sunsets - ... if weather permits...Asilomar Beach, and Sand City might be your best bets around town. Sunsets are fabulous from Carmel as well.

5. Old Monterey Path of History Walking Tour - Take a stroll through Old Monterey such as Colton Hall & the Customs House; while there visit some of the great restaurants downtown.

6. Visit Pacific Grove - Asilomar State Beach, Point Pinos Lighthouse, the butterflies, scenic Ocean View Drive, sea lions, seals & sea otters.

7. Drive Highway 1 - Take a drive along the shore! Big Sur starts just a few miles south and runs about 100 miles along some spectacular shoreline. To the north from Santa Cruz to San Francisco is almost as impressive.

8. Visit Carmel - beautiful beaches, historic old town, fancy inns and restaurants, the Carmel Mission, Point Lobos State Park.

9. Lower Presidio Historic Park - A "million-dollar view" over Monterey Bay.

10. Enjoy the local festivals! Gilroy Garlic Festival, Moss Landing's Antique Street Fair, Seaside's Japanese Obon Festival, California State Rodeo in Salinas, Fourth of July in Monterey, Monterey Turkish Heritage Festival, Monterey County Fair, the Castroville Artichoke Festival, just to name some of the summer events!

Monterey Restaurants, Nightlife & Hotels

Restaurants and nightlife in Monterey are clustered around a few key areas...Cannery Row, Old Town/Downtown, and North Fremont into Seaside are the largest concentrations. Also nearby are downtown Pacific Grove and downtown Carmel.

Cannery Row
New Monterey's most famous area is Cannery Row, which offers a wide variety of mostly expensive sit-down restaurants with just a few bars. The locals all go to the little restaurants, bars, and fast food joints along Lighthouse. The hotels here are mostly fancy resort-type places, but the area still maintains a little of its old, blue-collar feel.

Old Town
Old Town/Downtown has the best variety of restaurants from the touristy places on Fisherman's Wharf to a ton of pubs and restaurants downtown. Most of Monterey's clubs (like Doc Rickett's Lab) are also here. This area is centered along Calle Principal and Alvarado Street and contains most of Monterey's best hotels.

Stretching from the Naval Postgraduate School through Seaside is Fremont Street, a much more spread out area, that offers a variety of restaurants. Most of these tend to be lower class, cheaper places with a lot of fast food joints along the main road. There are a few good neighborhood bars, but nothing that people travel for miles to visit (except Point Joe's and the original Fishwife). As you get into Seaside toward the shopping centers things improve for both accommodations and restaurant options.

Pacific Grove
Pacific Grove along Lighthouse has more of a traditional Main Street feel than anywhere else in the area. It is also much more quiet, with very few bars, just a handful of restaurants, but plenty of history, Victorian mansions, and B&Bs.

Carmel is the place to go if you want to mingle with the rich and have cash to burn. It is home to the $10 hamburger (at an average bar). Maybe the coolest thing about Carmel are the tiny Inns and B&Bs sprinkled throughout town.

Language Capital of the World

Monterey hosts 25 percent of the nation's postsecondary non-English language instruction at the Defense Language Institute and Monterey Institute of International Studies, and the town is home to a company called Language Line Services, the largest provider of translation and interpretation services in the world. A 1995 study showed that Monterey led the world in hours spent on language instruction, interpretation and translation.

Monterey's own cheese

Monterey Jack cheese was invented here. Originally made by the Spanish monks at the local missions, it was later mass produced by a man named David Jacks, and is now the most-consumed American cheese (though the origin of the name is still open for debate: David Jacks or house jacks?)

America's second best chowder?

The west coast's clam chowder ranks a close second behind New England clam chowder. Sorry, Manhattan, but your red pseudo chowder just doesn't stack up.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Natural Beauty, Historic Sites, the Bay
  • Cons:Touristy & Expensive
  • In a nutshell:Great place to *live*, but I wouldn't want to *visit* here.
  • Last visit to Monterey: Aug 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (245)

Comments (36)

  • vichatherly's Profile Photo
    Oct 14, 2013 at 5:03 AM

    We only had a short time in Monterey, but the aquarium was fantastic

  • DEY's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    You have made me very nostalgic! I went to DLI 1991-92. I loved my time in Monterey!

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2009 at 2:27 PM

    I surmise you must live here-given you have 83 restaurant tips-or ate out a lot on a one week trip and ate 6 times a day. I was here 30 years ago and it was fun back then too. Great job of detail and pictures

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    May 4, 2009 at 6:36 AM

    Now THIS is a great tip. $9 to take a scenic drive that should belong to the people is terrible. Your other trips are good, and the photos great, but this one saves money!

  • Agraichen's Profile Photo
    Dec 14, 2008 at 8:12 PM

    Excellent photos and comment on Montery. I'll be there in Feb for a "car club ride" after a stay at the Quail Lodge and a tour of the Monterey aquarium.

  • joiwatani's Profile Photo
    Nov 18, 2008 at 8:00 PM

    Great pages on Monterrey!

  • MATIM's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2008 at 7:56 AM

    Your information is just fabulous. We will be in Monterey in August. I have to go now, but will be back for more info. Thanks!

  • a2lopes's Profile Photo
    Nov 8, 2008 at 4:25 AM

    Thanks for visiting my hometown page. Hope you can come to visit too. And you do have a great work here about Monterey. Hope to visit some day. Greetings from Lisbon

  • Oct 9, 2008 at 2:49 PM

    Excellent web site and full of information and full of full of pictures! I like very much the picture "Big Sur" landscape (one of the most beautiful landscapes that i ever seen in pictures.

  • Lhenne1's Profile Photo
    Jul 20, 2008 at 9:19 PM

    Spooky haunted Monterey picture. Nice raccoon picture...beady little eyes.


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