Photograph by Alan Copson, Alamy Stock photo
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People stroll down the Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey.
Photograph by Alan Copson, Alamy Stock photo

Everything to Know About Monterey

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to the "cradle of California."

Life revolves around the water in Monterey, California, creating an outdoorsy vibe focused on conservation.

When to Go

High season in Monterey can be busy, and in typical California coastal fashion, summer weather rarely feels like summer. Try spring when seal pups line the beaches, or fall and winter when the crowds are thin and sunny days are more likely.


The Monterey region is a hub of activity year-round. Pebble Beach Food & Wine features 60 celebrity chefs and more than 250 wineries every April. In March two jazz festivals bring music to Monterey, while in June it’s all about artichokes at the Artichoke Festival.

What to Eat

Seafood is the obvious choice while visiting Monterey. With restaurants following the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Restaurant Partner program, you can expect sustainable seafood on the menus. But the region is also an agricultural hub known for locally grown vegetables, including garlic and artichokes.

Souvenir to Take Home

Locally made products such as artichoke spreads and wine allow you to bring a taste of Monterey County home. You can’t go wrong with a souvenir from one of the four gift shops at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as proceeds support the aquarium’s mission of conservation. Looking for a unique item? Try the beautiful shops in nearby downtown Carmel.

Sustainable Travel Tip

With the bay designated as part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, environmental protection and sustainability, including sustainable seafood and water conservation, are ways of life here. To help the county reach its goal to reduce emissions, travelers can offset their travel footprint with the Offset Project, a local, award-winning nonprofit.

Instagram-Worthy View

There’s no shortage of beautiful views, but perhaps the most iconic shot in Monterey is actually indoors, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Have fun with the delicate shapes of the jellyfish or visitors’ silhouettes in front of the mesmerizing Open Sea Gallery. Back outdoors, don’t miss the classic views south of Monterey at the Lone Cypress, Bixby Bridge, and McWay Falls.