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USA Travel: Monterey, California – Activity Recommendations

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This is a list of activity recommendations for Monterey, California, USA.

Continue your tour of California’s coast by stopping through Monterey, California, named one of Expedia’s “Most Scenic West Coast Cities” in 2018. Just two hours south of San Francisco, and five hours north of Los Angeles, the city’s National Marine Sanctuary, Spanish-era adobes and John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row are sure to delight visitors.

About Monterey


Travel to Monterey from Los Gatos, California or Santa Cruz, California.

Map from Los Gatos + Santa Cruz to Monterey

Connect this itinerary to others along the California coast

Map of a recommended walk around Monterey

This walk brings you from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Cannery Row Carmel onto Beach, onto the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, finishing at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

Monterey Favorites


  • Spindrift Inn

Do – Monterey Downtown

  • Monterey Bay Harbor (whale watching tours and kayak rentals available on the pier)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Cannery Row
  • Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail – 18 mile trail that hugs the water
  • Whale watching tour
  • Kayak

Do – Monterey Surrounds

  • Point Lobos State reserve
  • Point Pinos Lighthouse
  • 17-Mile Drive


  • Sakura Sushi
  • Chart House
  • Montrio Bistro
  • Heirloom Pizza
  • Tidal Coffee

Monterey Harbor

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The aquarium has a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean. Through its oceanside location, 80,000 plants and animals and 200 exhibits, visitors get a glimpse into the complexity and variability of the California coast’s ecosystem. The aquarium is a popular destination for school field trips; advanced ticket booking is recommended.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation founded The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBARI) and “has advocated for healthy oceans on the West Coast for two decades” that “encompass the entire ocean, from the surface waters to the deep seafloor, and from the coastal zone to the open sea” (MBARI, 2021)

Literary Connections: Cannery Row

John Steinbeck’s, Cannery Row, is a realistic portrayal of life during the Great Depression on Ocean View Avenue in Monterey, California. The story is loosely based off Steinbeck’s own childhood experiences around a street lined with sardine canneries. Monterey formally renamed this area as Cannery Row and since the book’s publoshing in 1945, the area has enjoyed visitors who come for the “actual history of the area and the fictionalized setting of John Steinbeck’s novels” (Cannery Row Conservation District Monterey, California, 2004).

Beyond its literary connections, Cannery Row also played a formative role in fishing communities within the Native American, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Portuguese and Italian, Genoese and Sicilian cultures over the past 150 years.

McAbee Beach

Located at the end of Cannery Row, Monterey’s smallest beach offers sweeping views of the space and a large green expanse for picnics, puppies and playdates.

Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

This 18-mile waterfront trail offers visitors views of “Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, beaches, parks, historic sites and Downtown Monterey” (City of Monterey, 2021).

Old Fisherman’s Wharf

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