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Best Things To Do in Monterey

Whether it's your first or 10th time visiting the area, the stunning scenery along the 17-Mile Drive never disappoints. The beaches and coastal terrain  best found in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve  are also worth exploring. Follow one of the reserve's hiking trails and you're sure to encounter memorable views. Most everyone likes the aquatic displays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as well. And those who visit Monterey regularly continue to indulge in the luxury of Carmel-by-the-Sea and still go out of the way to get a glimpse of the unforgettable views from the Pebble Beach Golf Links.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Monterey

Free
Located south of Monterey and Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a humble seaside village with a few small shops and cafes -- at least that's the cover story. In truth, this pricey town has plenty of designer stores, gourmet eateries and upscale art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents (like Clint Eastwood). You'll find most shoppers and diners around picturesque Ocean Avenue, which leads to Carmel Beach.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Carmel-by-the-Sea
Located south of Monterey and Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a humble seaside village with a few small shops and cafes -- at least that's the cover story. In truth, this pricey town has plenty of designer stores, gourmet eateries and upscale art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents (like Clint Eastwood). You'll find most shoppers and diners around picturesque Ocean Avenue, which leads to Carmel Beach.
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#2

#2 in Monterey

Free
South of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve receives praise from almost everyone who visits. The dramatic rock formations rising from the ocean have most visitors gawking, while the cute creatures like pocket gopher and the southern sea otter keep the nature-lovers smiling. The reserve's 13 trails offer hikers both easy and challenging opportunities. The Cypress Grove Trail is especially popular due to its views of the rugged coast and the gnarled Monterey cypress trees that perch precariously on the seaside cliffs.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
South of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve receives praise from almost everyone who visits. The dramatic rock formations rising from the ocean have most visitors gawking, while the cute creatures like pocket gopher and the southern sea otter keep the nature-lovers smiling. The reserve's 13 trails offer hikers both easy and challenging opportunities. The Cypress Grove Trail is especially popular due to its views of the rugged coast and the gnarled Monterey cypress trees that perch precariously on the seaside cliffs.
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#3

#3 in Monterey

The Open Sea Exhibit best exemplifies how special the massive Monterey Bay Aquarium is. Sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish and schools of fish have thousands of gallons of water to explore while visitors watch in awe. With 45 interactive exhibits featuring reptiles, octopi, birds, fish and invertebrates, as well as a variety of tours (some of which allow guests to feed some of the sea life), there is no shortage of things to see and do for the young and old at the aquarium.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Open Sea Exhibit best exemplifies how special the massive Monterey Bay Aquarium is. Sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish and schools of fish have thousands of gallons of water to explore while visitors watch in awe. With 45 interactive exhibits featuring reptiles, octopi, birds, fish and invertebrates, as well as a variety of tours (some of which allow guests to feed some of the sea life), there is no shortage of things to see and do for the young and old at the aquarium.
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#4

#4 in Monterey

Golfers dream of playing at the Pebble Beach Golf Club, which is often considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. With experts encouraging booking over a year in advance, the course is not something to do when visiting Monterey, it's the reason to book a trip to Monterey in the first place. 
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Golf Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Golfers dream of playing at the Pebble Beach Golf Club, which is often considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. With experts encouraging booking over a year in advance, the course is not something to do when visiting Monterey, it's the reason to book a trip to Monterey in the first place. 
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#5

#5 in Monterey

Tracing the rugged Pacific coastline, the 17-Mile Drive isn't just a road. The route offers breathtaking views of the ocean, hugging the Pacific coastline as it weaves through the Del Monte Forest. You can experience the natural wonders of Monterey and marvel at the multi-million-dollar homes along the coast.
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Recreation Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
17-Mile Drive
Tracing the rugged Pacific coastline, the 17-Mile Drive isn't just a road. The route offers breathtaking views of the ocean, hugging the Pacific coastline as it weaves through the Del Monte Forest. You can experience the natural wonders of Monterey and marvel at the multi-million-dollar homes along the coast.
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#6

#6 in Monterey

Free
Near Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman's Wharf is not the smelly, salt water-stained place it once was. Costly restaurants and souvenir shops now characterize this touristy harborside neighborhood. However, this is the place to go if you're interested in a whale-watching tours or a kayaking excursion on the bay.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Old Fisherman's Wharf
Near Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman's Wharf is not the smelly, salt water-stained place it once was. Costly restaurants and souvenir shops now characterize this touristy harborside neighborhood. However, this is the place to go if you're interested in a whale-watching tours or a kayaking excursion on the bay.
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#7

#7 in Monterey

Free
Anchored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row is the epicenter of Monterey's tourism industry. Boutique hotels, shops and restaurants line this seaside avenue and attract thousands of travelers each year. But many recent visitors find the area overpriced and too touristy, noting that you can no longer detect the charms that John Steinbeck details in his 1945 novel Cannery Row.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Cannery Row
Anchored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row is the epicenter of Monterey's tourism industry. Boutique hotels, shops and restaurants line this seaside avenue and attract thousands of travelers each year. But many recent visitors find the area overpriced and too touristy, noting that you can no longer detect the charms that John Steinbeck details in his 1945 novel Cannery Row.
... more
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