Part of our California trip (Los Angeles – Death Valley – Yosemite Park – Monterey- Highway 1-Los Angeles) was on Scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1 from Monterey to Los Angeles. This article will focus on Pacific Coast Highway 1 so I’m going to talk only about this part of Scenic Highway 1.
After visiting Death Valley (Read an article “7 things to do in Death Valley in 1 day” and Yosemite National Park (Read an article “2 day visit of Yosemite park and some tips“) we traveled to city of Monterey where we stayed 2 nights and 2 full days. It was great to take a break from driving and explore this beautiful city, as well as the Monterey Peninsula.
If I could describe Monterey in one word it would be “serene”. With its warm coastal winds pushing waves onto its sandy beaches and the relaxed vibe we got from walking downtown it has to be one of the most beautiful coastal cities of California. We spent an amazing two days there and highly recommend visiting!
It was originally the state capital of California, and boasts more historic buildings in its downtown that any other city in California.
The Monterey Peninsula has the largest population of sea otters on the California coast. It’s this abundance of marine wildlife that makes it one of the primary attractions of the region. Seals, sea lions, and sea otters are visible year-round; migrating whales can be seen in the fall and spring months.
Where to stay in Monterey?
We stayed at Marriott Monterey hotel, the tallest structure in the city. On the rooftop you can catch the best view of the city; it’s also great to see the sunset as well as sunrise.
For overnight stay in Monterey – check <a href="https://www.airbnb.ca/c/olgav153?s=3&i=1" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'https://www achat cialis suisse.airbnb.ca/c/olgav153?s=3&i=1′, ‘Airbnb’);” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Airbnb, Booking or use a list of money saving travel resources.
Where to eat in Monterey?
I checked Trip Advisor for reviews and we had breakfast at Old Monterey Cafe as well as Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle. I prefer Loulou’s. It’s got a great view of the Wharf and the food was tasty with very reasonable prices.
We had dinner at Old Fisherman’s Grotto. It was good but the prices are high there. So if you are looking something with reasonable price, I would recommend to checking Domenico on the Wharf. If you stay at Marriott Monterey hotel – ask Concierge for idea’s on where to eat. They will have some very helpful suggestions and we also got a few cards for complimentary appetizer.
What to see in Monterey?
Today Monterey is best known for its beautiful coastline where you can see hundreds of sea lions sunbathing on nearby rocks, as well as its world-class aquarium. Entrance to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is 40USD.
Sea lions by the wharfs. If you don’t want to spend 40USD, you can visit two piers that provide excellent viewing of sea lions. They can be seen by Fisherman’s Wharf. A larger group just a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf can be found by a small fishing warehouse, for some reason many sea lions have made it their home.
Closer to Cannery Row near the coast guard station is a large breakwater (not accessible to foot traffic) where you can see tones of marine mammals as well. Sea otters can often be seen in the bay, we were able to get some really close pics of otters cracking sea shells on their stomachs. And harbour seals can be found west of the Stanford research station (west of the aquarium) or next to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Famous 17-Mile Drive. We decided to rent bikes so we could see the Monterey peninsula as well as the world-famous scenic 17-Mile Drive. The road will take you through Pebble Bech and Pacific Coast. While riding we were able to take pictures of the massive jagged rocks by the water while the Pacific winds gently pushed us along the path.
It sounds cliche but every curve in the road really does reveal another postcard vista. While there be sure to take a picture of the Lone Cypress tree! If you come by car – entrance fee is 10USD and for bikes – it’s free. it is often warm and sunny even when Monterey is socked in fog.
We rented our bikes at Adventures by the sea. Multi-passenger surrey bikes are particularly popular and available for rent as well.
I would definitely recommend going on 17-mile drive (by car or bike) and you can enjoy beautiful scenery as on pictures below and check some points like Lovers Point, Point Pinos Lighthouse, Point Joe, Cypress Point, Arrowhead Point and Bird Rock and Seal Rock.
We really enjoyed walking around the city, Old Fisherman’s Wharf as well as The American Tin Cannery. The wharf was built in 1946 for the many trading vessels bringing goods from around Cape Horn.
Shopping on Old Fisherman’s Wharf you can find that perfect Monterey postcard or souvenir. Or Visit The American Tin Cannery with outlet shops and restaurant. You can also buy the day’s latest catch fresh off the boat.
There are also a lot museums (if you like museums): Pacific House Museum, Maritime Museum of History, Presidio of Monterey Museum, Monterey Museum of Art, Museum of Monterey Recreation Trail.
Guided Tours are available in Larkin House, Stevenson House, Casa Soberanes and Cooper-Molera. Self-guided tours are available in the Pacific House, the Custom House, Colton Hall and many of Monterey’s other historic sites.
Walk to Recreation Trail to enjoy Monterey’s stunning view of Pacific Ocean.
What else? The area is particularly famous for sightings of gray whales and whale watching in general as they travel to warmer waters during the winter and early spring. Several companies offer year-round whale watching boat tours, departing daily from Fisherman’s Wharf (the price starts at 45USD per person).
1) I booked a whale watching excursion here departing from Moss Landing (20 miles north from Monterey). We paid $34.00 for both of us instead of 90USD. Use this link to get 10USD off for your first purchase. Parking costs 7USD per vehicle. Be ready for a bumpy, cold ride.
2) Parking is always a question in a foreign city. We parked our car in front of the hotel for free as we arrived after 6PM and in the morning we parked at parking lot (7USD per entry) instead of 25USD per day at Marriott hotel.
What else to see? I would recommend to check Marriott Monterey hotel’s website
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