Located on the coast of Central California, Monterey is a paradise for whale and dolphin lovers. Sightings of these sea mammals are so commonplace in this region that those who operate Monterey tours featuring whale and dolphin watching routinely advertise that guests who fail to see ocean wildlife are free to take another tour…
Top 14 Things to do in Monterey, California
From San Fran's fog-filled streets, head south and leave the city behind. Catch glimpses of the tech-savvy startups strewn throughout Silicon Valley and learn about the area's past as you reach Cannery Row. Once the site of a bustling fishing industry and the setting for several works by John Steinbeck, this salty detour is now filled with trendy cafes and fascinating museums.
Ride down Highway 1 and gaze out wide windows at the never-ending blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean. When you reach the winding lanes of 17-Mile Drive, get out your camera and start shooting. Snap photos of rugged headlands and mist-shrouded forests, and look for the Lone Cypress clutching wave-warped rocks near Pebble Beach.
Wrap up your coast-curated adventure with a chance to see the stone chapel of the Carmel Mission, the second mission established in California and an inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Read More close
Wind past the shops and cafes that pack Old Fisherman's Wharf as you make your way to the dock. When you arrive, meet your captain and crew and climb aboard the vessel, grabbing a comfortable seat just before the engine is fired up and you putter out of the marina's calm waters.
Watch as the sails lift and a gentle breeze pulls you out into open water. Chat with your guide about sailing in this area and get tips on where to look to spot resident sea lion populations and playful sea otters. Keep your camera close by as you work your way around the Bay, snapping photos of the restored buildings along Cannery Row, admiring the rocky headlands of Pacific Grove, and gazing at the Pacific Ocean's endless blue horizon before you come about and head back to shore. Read More close
Meet up with your guide at the end of the weathered boardwalk of Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. Hop aboard your craft for the evening and find a comfortable seat on the open-air deck while your crew tosses off the mooring lines and sets a course out of the marina.
Reach open water just as the sun begins to saturate the sky in vibrant hues of pink, purple, and red. Cruise by the rocky headlands of Pacific Grove and catch the sun's reflection as it glints off the windows of old fishing buildings scattered along Cannery Row. As the first stars begin to peek out of the increasingly dark sky, come about and return to the marina where you can part ways with your captain and head back into Monterey. Read More close
Meet up with your guide at the marina and get situated with the equipment, strapping the futuristic water-propelled device to your feet as your guide explains how the technology works. With your guide beside you in a jet ski, you rise up on columns of water sprayed out of high-pressure nozzles fed by the jet ski's engine. All you need to do is tilt, lean, and trust your balance, and you can be soaring through the sky and plunging beneath the water's surface at super speed in no time.
No experience is necessary to flyboard, and learning the basics just takes 20 minutes or so. Once you've got the hang of things, you can let a friend or family member take a turn as you watch, or ask your guide to help you master more complicated tricks and maneuvers. Spin, dive, and feel the exhilarating rush of flight against the backdrop of the lake's sparkling waters and rugged desert setting. Read More close
Make your way to the marina at Lake San Antonio for a quick introduction to your rental gear, and then get to know the vehicle that will be carrying you out on the water. A 3-seater craft is great if you have kids in your crew or want to cruise around with company, while single-rider, stand-up jet skis offer fun challenges and high-speed thrills if you want to tackle the waves on your own.
If you'd like a local to show you around, a half-day or full-day guided tour lets you get a lay of the land. Riding on their own jet ski in front of you, your guide offers driving tips and pointers in addition to showing you the best bays, coolest coves, and greatest beaches that Lake San Antonio has to offer. Read More close
Stop at historic Cannery Row—John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name takes place on this street during the Great Depression—for a visit to the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. See over 30,000 strange and colorful underwater creatures, from playful sea otters and turtles to powerful sharks and the rare and massive ocean sunfish.
Cruise along the scenic and celebrated 17-Mile Drive, home to the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Course. Admire the Lone Cypress—this postcard-worthy tree stands on a rugged granite outpost amid the waves—and scope out the area’s magnificent mansions with their sweeping coastal views. Stop along the way to snap photos of the seals basking in the sun on the aptly-named Seal Rock.
Finally, head to enchanting Carmel-by-the-Sea, whose charming downtown shopping district, beautiful beaches, and historic mission make this one of the most beloved destinations along the coast. Spend some time popping into unique boutiques and art galleries before returning to San Francisco via Silicon Valley. Read More close
Ride in a customized "theater-on-wheels" with comfortable high back seats named after stars from movies filmed in the area. In-vehicle movie clips and witty narration from your knowledgeable guide take you on a journey through the rich history of Monterey Peninsula. Scenes filmed in the area appear on the overhead projector and are perfectly timed so you can look out the window and see the very same sites as you drive by. Movies include National Velvet, A Summer Place, Turner & Hooch, Play Misty for Me, and Clash By Night.
Journey along 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach and appreciate unparalleled views and great photo opportunities. One of the stops is the Lone Cypress, an approximately 250-year-old tree and western icon, said to be one of the most photographed trees in North America.
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Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
From your hotel, get picked up in a spacious and comfortable private vehicle, grabbing a window seat as your driver and guide steer you toward the coast. Hook up with the Pacific Coast Highway and savor your first glimpses at crashing ocean waves. Wind around scenic bends and over rugged headlands as you work your way toward Monterey.
When you arrive, hop out and stretch your legs as you wander around Cannery Row's historic sights and landmarks. Hear stories about the fishing industry that once thrived here and learn how John Steinbeck immortalized the area with his books Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row.
Consider grabbing lunch at one of the many seafood-centric cafes, or use the extra time to duck inside the renowned Monterey Aquarium before continuing on to Carmel-by-the-Sea. On your way, make a detour past the legendary links of Pebble Beach golf course.
Wrap up your day digging your toes into Carmel's sandy shores or investigating the history of the Carmel Mission—the choice is yours. This private tour lets you customize your itinerary based on your personal interests. Make a few requests, get a few tips, and make the most of your day before it's time to head back to the City by the Bay. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
11 hours 30 minutes
Stretching across the Monterey Peninsula from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, 17-mile drive is a private road filled with dramatic coastal views, idyllic beaches, scenic points, and historic mansions. You’ll spend the day exploring the towns, attractions, and natural wonders of the area with your naturalist Escape Artist guide.
We’ll visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium home to more than 35,000 plants and animals including sharks, turtles, rays, otters, octopuses, and penguins. You’ll get a VIP experience, visiting exclusive behind-the-scenes areas and hearing in-depth insights on the animals and aquarium.
Your Escape Artist guide will also lead you on a walk along one of our favorite sections of the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. You will soak in the serene coastal views and watch for harbor seals, sea lions, and otters while learning more about the history, ecology, and culture of the peninsula.
The tour will end with free time in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The picturesque town was home to Native Americans and Spanish missionaries before becoming a haven for bohemians and artists in the early 1900s. It retains its charm and artistic inclinations today, and you’ll find endless diversions in its art galleries, boutiques, historic homes, wine tasting rooms, and cypress lined paths.
A chef’s lunch and small plate dinner are included in the tour. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Begin your experience at the wharf, where you walk past rows of luxurious boats to board the sailing yacht that takes you out for the evening. Meet your skipper and explore the vessel, getting a good glimpse of the facilities before setting off into the deeper waters of the bay.
Set sail from the harbor and along the coast of California, your captain pointing out major points of interest between picturesque forest environment and rugged landscapes. As the sun goes down, relax on deck and get some memorable pictures of the evening scene. After an unforgettable time, the tour ends as you sail back to port. Read More close
Hop on board a spacious yacht and begin your sail away from the wharf. Drift out onto the shimmering waters and marvel as the setting sun bathes the cityscape in its vibrant rays that lance through the puffy white clouds that are stretched across the sky. Catch glimpses of quaint communities on the waterfront, mixed in with rugged forest environment.
Feel the refreshing sea breeze and savor the sweet smell of the ocean as you start off with refreshments of brie and pear on stone-ground wheat crackers. View the pristine coastline between Cannery Row and Point Pinos as a fresh spinach salad arrives, followed by the main attraction, the Monterey Bay grilled salmon.
Take in a few more sights as the evening winds down and then make your way back to the dock, where your cruise ends. Read More close
Your adventure begins at the authentically styled 1880s Roaring Camp as you explore the Wild West town’s general store, logging camp, and steam sawmill. Next door, the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park offers a historic reenactment that brings the park’s great historical treasure to life.
Set off through the towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow gauge grade to the summit. Sit back and relax as your journey offers a scenic backdrop with a rich sense of California’s history.
A quick 15-minute stop at Bear Mountain’s peak gives you time to appreciate the refreshing shade from the enormous redwoods. Then, board the slowly moving steam engine and soak in panoramic views with endless photo opportunities. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
1 hour 15 minutes
Relive a piece of California’s history at the town of Roaring Camp—a re-creation of an 1880s logging town. This Wild West town offers a general store, logging camp, steam sawmill, and authentically dressed vendors. Enjoy a historic reenactment that brings the park's great treasure to life at the next door Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Soak in the sun on the open-air train down the Pacific Railway—opened in 1875 and one of the oldest lines in California—which offers a relaxing backdrop with rich sense of antiquity. Travel down the San Lorenzo River Gorge on the slowly moving train as you admire panoramic views full of endless photos opportunities.
Once you arrive at the Santa Cruz Beach, have a picnic on the beach, discover the wide variety of shops, or hang out with the sun-basking sea lions under the pier. Spend the afternoon exploring all that the boardwalk has to offer, and then board the bench-lined cars for your ride back to the redwoods. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Arrive at the pier where your glorious vessel awaits. After a warm welcome from the friendly crew, leave the shore behind and head into the open waters. Enjoy fantastic views of the waterfront and marvelous geographical formations as you cruise on the sparkling cerulean ocean.
Rest on the edge of the boat, looking around you to spot an abundance of wildlife swimming in the water and soaring above your head. Otters, sea lions, porpoise, and even dolphins can be seen playing alongside the boat, so be sure to keep your camera ready. Watch the sky as it takes on shades of orange, purple, and red as you are served a sumptuous 4-course dinner with fresh seafood and delicious desserts. Read More close